A simple fine motor activity using construction paper for an art project for kids. Improve fine motor skills such as pencil grasp development, hand strength, in-hand manipulation skills, visual perceptual skills, and creativity!
I don’t like to waste… in my office closet and cabinets, I have several bins of items that most people would throw out.
But I don’t throw them out. As a pediatric OT, I see the value in saving the empty containers, random small toys, and scraps of paper!
My philosophy is that my collected items will eventually find a use for something. Or someone.
And they always do!
When students make a project, I even save the scraps! We find a way to re-use them in another fine motor activity.
This post is an example of how to creatively use the scraps! Recycle. Reuse!
Improve Fine Motor Skills Using Scraps of Construction Paper – an EASY Fine Motor Activity
Typically, tearing construction paper is a great activity for preschool and kindergarten. It’s a perfect pre-cutting activity that works on grasping skills and bilateral coordination.
The fingers that are involved in tearing are called the “skill fingers” – thumb, index and middle fingers. They are our working fingers that grasp and manipulate items while the other two curl into the palm for stabilization.
Tearing paper also encourages bilateral integration – each hand coordinates working together to complete a task. (Click the link for more bilateral coordination activities.)
I’ve used this fine motor activity with many students beyond kindergarten!
It continues to work on grasp development, fine motor strength, and in-hand manipulation skills. (For more information on in-hand manipulation skills, check out Dexterity in the Hands – 43 In-Hand Manipulation Activities and Games to Improve Handwriting.)
Furthermore, you can increase the challenge for older kiddos by having them create their own art project.
This helps improve visual perceptual skills such as visual imagery, visual discrimination, visual attention, and spatial relations.
Students find that tearing the paper can be relaxing. A project like this can serve as a mindful brain break for kids!
And more importantly, using scraps of paper to make an art project works on creativity!
Kids (and adults) sometimes become reliant on using templates and patterns. The focus tends to be on a perfect looking end product. One that looks similar to everyone else’s.
Using scraps of construction paper creates abstract, unique designs. With texture that I personally love!
Fine Motor Activity – Tearing Construction Paper Scraps to Create Unique Designs
For this simple art project, for each student, you need a plain piece of paper, a glue stick and construction paper scraps. No scissors needed!
Try to encourage students to create their picture without an outline behind it. If they feel they’d prefer one, have them draw it using simple shapes and lines.
First, have your students create an outline if they wish to have one.
Then, choose colors construction paper scraps to use. Tear into desired sizes and shapes.
The goal is creating texture on the edges of the paper during tearing. Grading of movements are needed for tearing various sizes of scraps.
For smaller details or for tearing long thin strips of paper, more precise finger movements are needed. The fingers need to shift the paper while also gently separating it.
Next, use the glue stick directly on the large plain paper for background pictures or larger parts of the picture.
When gluing small pieces or thin strips, it’s sometimes easier to pick up each piece and slide it over the top of the glue stick before placing it on the paper.
Example One: Fall Tree with Two Toned Leaves
If an outline is desired, draw a single straight line for the trunk and then add the branches. Tear paper for the tree trunk and the tree branches.
Choose colors for the leaves. Tear small leaves.
Start building the tree first from the bottom -> up. Glue the trunk and branches first. Place leaves on the tree as desired!
Add other elements to the picture’s background and foreground.
Example Two: Thanksgiving Turkey
For the outline (if needed), draw a larger circle in the center of the paper for the body.
Add a tall oval to the left, slightly overlapping the circle (see photo.)
Draw a circle to the top left of the oval for the turkey’s head.
Make straight lines down from the body for the legs and feet.
Tear paper for the body and feathers. If desired, the entire turkey can be multi-colored with smaller pieces of construction paper. (My son made this example. He chose to make a brown body and a fan of colorful feathers.)
Smaller, more detailed pieces of paper are required for the feet, beak, waddle and eye.
Glue the body, neck and head. Then add the feathers, feet, and other small details.
Depth can be added to the picture by only gluing the base of the feathers and curling the tips off the paper.
Add other elements as desired to the picture’s background and foreground.
Example Three: Simple Christmas Tree
The outline for the tree can be as simple as a large isosceles triangle. Or, you can have students draw the jagged edges of the tree.
Tear green strips of paper for the tree. Have students try to make some of the green pieces triangular in shape. Or, it would work to use more long thin pieces.
It’s easier to build the tree from the bottom -> up. Some students may prefer building from the top down.
Decorate the tree with torn pieces of paper.
Add other elements to the picture as desired!
Tips for Your Kiddos: Encourage Mindful Brain Breaks with Fine Motor Activities and Art Projects
There are additional ways to use this simple activity. (I’ve only shared a small sample of seasonal art projects.)
As shown in the top photo of the blog post, you can have kids make Valentine’s cards or St. Patrick’s Day cards. Make spring pictures or Mother’s Day cards!
OR, during learning, have students create a science lesson using torn paper. Have them create a story setting or make a photo of a person they’re learning about.
Torn paper can be used for math problems or sequencing letters for spelling.
And, just for fun, create a spring or summer scene, an animal, a sea creature, etc!
Pre-Cutting and Scissor Snipping Skills
As previously mentioned, this is a great pre-cutting activity for kids who aren’t ready for scissors.
When they are ready to use scissors, make sure you follow the developmental sequence. Check out How to Improve Scissor Skills PLUS Worksheets for Cutting Practice. Or head to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.
Cutting activities are a great way to work on fine motor, bilateral coordination and visual motor skills!
More Fine Motor Activities:
Art Projects for Kids – Support Reading, Writing and Math Skills -This post justifies and emphasizes the importance of art projects and crafts for kids. The skills addressed support skills needed for learning.
Simple DIY Math Manipulatives for Tactile and Kinesthetic Learning -Improve fine motor strength and dexterity during math using household items, toys and/or game pieces!
How to Make a Puffy Paint Snowman -Use a simple mixture to make this fun craft! A mindful brain break for kids.