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Using Play to Assess Motor Skills

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Childcare
Wordcount: 6604 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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EDE 282: Health and Physical Education in Early Childhood


Physical activity is a crucial part of the development of both gross and fine motor skills in students aged five to six. Reunamo et al. (as cited by Lu & Montague, 2016) identify that fine and gross motor skills in early childhood is traditionally regarded as being developed through physical activity. Within the classroom it is essential that educators take the opportunity to develop a range of activities which encourages the participation of all students regardless of their ability, this can aid in further enhancing students’ fine and gross motor skills whilst offering a cross curriculum approach. Physical activity should be adapted to suit the needs of all students. Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA] (n.d.-b) stipulates that all students are entitled to participate in school curriculum. There are a variety of resources which can aid educators with activities and modification to suit the learning needs of all students whilst they develop their fine and gross motor skills.



Detailed Description of the Skill

How would an educator assess a child’s competency in this skill?

5 Ideas for enhancing the skill in an early childhood setting

3 Ideas for integration with other learning areas e.g. literacy etc.

Fine motor skill 1:

Dynamic Tripod Grasp

Dynamic tripod grasp is a three-finger grasp using the thumb, index finger and middle finger, movement is generated through the fingers as opposed to the arm (Occupational Therapy for Children, n.d.).

Dynamic tripod grasp has the ring and pinkie finger curled into the palm, whilst the thumb and index finger pinch the instrument and the middle finger acts as a support (Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, n.d.).

Observation checklist:

  • index finger can flexi;
  • placement of fingers;
  • thumb and index finger are slightly separated;
  • placement of finger from tip of instrument; and
  • holding pencil at approximately 45-degree angle.

(Department of Education Tasmania, 2016).

  1. Tweezer games (Ockner, 2011). Students are to hold the tweezer using the dynamic tripod grasp and move the objects from one jar to another.
  2. Students hold a cotton ball in their palm by using their ring and pinkie finger (Annandale Public School, n.d.) to draw a picture as directed without using these fingers to hold their pencil.
  3. Utislie pinch and flip technique, students pinch the sharp end of the pencil, then the pencil is flipped back to rest on the webbing of the hand (Mama OT, 2012).
  4. Easel painting, children are to use the tripod grasp to paint their pictures.
  5. Zipper board, attach different types and sized zips to a board and have students open and close them.
  1. The Arts, ACAVAM107 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), use the grasp to hold the tools to model and detail a clay sculpture.
  2. Mathematics, ACMNA002 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), count objects one at a time, using tweezers to move the object as they have counted them.
  3. English, ACELY1651 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), students write a recount of their using dynamic tripod grasp to hold their pencil.

EYLF and/or Curriculum Links

  • Using correct pencil grip, draw some lower and upper case letters (ACARA, n.d.-a., ACELY1653).
  • Outcome 4, confident and involved learners (Department of Education and Training [DET], 2009).

Fine motor skill 2:

Pincer grasp

The pincer grasp starts developing early on but continues to develop as students grow, it uses only the index finger and the thumb to manipulate and hold smaller objects (School Sparks, n.d.). Pincer grasp allows for precise action (Thomas, 2013), these actions can include tying shoe laces and doing up buttons.

Formative observation assessment:

  • Have students undertake a variety of tasks:
  • Tying shoelaces
  • Threading beads
  • Picking up and placing small objects into containers.
  • Opening pegs.
  • The index and thumb were used to complete the skill.
  • Were other fingers involved in completing the activity.
  • Were one or two hands used.
  1. Thread beads onto a rope.
  2. Moving clothes pegs, hanging clothes.
  3. Cat’s cradle, in pairs using a piece of string, the string is to be transferred from one student’s hand to another using pincer grasp.
  4. Piggy bank, students are to pick up money lying flat and place in the money box (Isbell, 2010).
  5. Spray bottle gardening, students use a spray bottle and trigger fingers to water the garden.
  1. The Arts, ACAVAM107 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), vertical painting/drawing on an easel.
  2. English, ACELA1820 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), using pincer grasp thread letters onto pipe cleaner to create consonant-vowel- consonant words.
  3. Mathematics, sorting and classifying familiar objects, ACMNA005 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), thread different sized shapes and beads onto string in different classifications.

EYLF and/or Curriculum Links

  • Body movements, identify and describe in relation to different elements (ACARA, n.d.-a., ACPMP011).
  • Outcome 4, confident and involved learners (DET, 2009).

Fine motor skills 3:

Scissors Grasp

Scissor grasp has the thumb positioned upright in the top loop of the scissors and depending on the size of the bottom loop of the scissors both the index and middle fingers, alternatively the top loop will contain the thumb, the middle finger in the bottom loop and the index finger is used to stabilize the scissors (Can Child, 2013). Scissor grasp requires students to be able to use a grasp and release motion.

Formative observation assessment:

  • scissors grasp, one hand, with thumb positioned on top;
  • can open and close scissors using grasp and release motion;
  • snip paper;
  • cut straight line;
  • cut large shapes; and
  • cut small shapes.

(Isbell, 2010)

  1. Practice scissors grasp through using a spray bottle either for art or watering the class garden.
  2. Playdough, utilising the thumb and middle finger to mould and squash playdough.
  3. Snipping paper.
  4. Cutting playdough.
  5. Use scissors to cut nature/ lose parts to design artwork.
  1. The Arts, ACAVAM107 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), students will utilise scissors grasp to tear and cut paper up for their artwork.
  2. Humanities and Social Science, ACHASSK012 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), students will utilise this skill to develop wreaths to commemorate past events such as ANZAC day.
  3. English, ACELA1438 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), students will use scissor skills to cut words or letters from magazines.

EYLF and/or Curriculum Links

  • Recognise and highlight how bodies move regarding effort, objects, space and time (ACARA, n.d.-a., ACPMP011).
  • Outcome 4, confident and involved learners (DET, 2009).

Gross Motor Skills 1:

Static Balance

Static balance involves controlling the body whilst stationary (Landy & Burridge, 2011).  Static balance requires a stable centre of gravity to support the body, this type of balance is required for important activities including standing unaided and getting dressed (Department of Education, Western Australia [DET], 2013b).

Timed observation:

  • Students stand on one leg, timed, repeat for each leg.


  •  Foot of support leg flat on ground.
  • Lift leg bent and not resting on supportive leg.
  • Head and body upright and eyes focussed forward.
  • Balances on each leg.
  • Arms still, can be outright.

(Kiddo, n.d.-d.)

  1. Stepping stone, students to move to each stone and balance prior to moving on (Kid Sense, n.d.-a.).
  2. Simon says requesting different static balance actions (Sporting Schools, 2015).
  3. Musical statues, students must display static balance when the music stops.
  4. Balance bean bag on head, shoulder, elbow, knee whilst balancing.
  5. Balance boards, students practise balancing standing up and sitting down.
  1. The Arts, ACAMUM081 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), singing requires students to stand allowing them to implement correct techniques, including opening their diaphragms.
  2. Mathematics, ACMSP011 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), pose questions about timed balance activities and record students’ answers have them undertake the timed activity.
  3. Science, ACSHE013 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), undertake different static balance activities, students observe and describe the changes, example one leg, two legs.

EYLF and/or Curriculum Links

  • Body movements, identify and describe in relation to different elements (ACARA, n.d.-a., ACPMP011).
  • Outcome 3, children have a strong sense of physical and psychological wellbeing (DET, 2009).

Gross Motor Skills 2:

Object control –overarm throw

Object control is a skill where either by hand or foot objects or implements are controlled (DET, 2013a). Throwing overarm requires object control. Students should be developing the skill to step forward with the opposite leg to their throwing arm (DET, 2013a).

Observational, formal and informal:


  • Standing side on.


  • Arm follows through in a down and back movement.
  • Steps forward with opposite leg.


  • Elbow is bent as it moves over shoulder.


  • Controlled movement.
  • Throw is suitable for use in games.

(DET, 2013a)

  1. Boccia, students are to practice focusing on the target to get closest to the white ball.
  2. Goal shooting, a range of buckets are set up, students need to use and overarm throw to get the ball in the bucket (Health Promotion, n.d.).
  3. Throlf, target throwing circuit (Sporting Schools, 2015).
  4. Throw bean bags and balls through hoops.
  5. Students move around the obstacle course, at each point they are to demonstrate an overarm throw before progressing.
  1. Mathematics, ACMMG010 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), throw a ball against a target on the wall, count how many times they hit the target.
  2. English, ACELY1647 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), students are to experiment with overarm throwing then develop an oral presentation on their experience.
  3. Science, exploring physical science, ACSSU005 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), assessing how different object thrown using overarm move and why.

EYLF and/or Curriculum Links

  • Use different body parts to practice movement skills and sequences (ACARA, n.d.-a., ACPMP008).
  • With or without equipment participate in games (ACARA, n.d.-a., ACPMP009).

Gross Motor Skills 3:

Locomotor – jumping.

Locomotor gross motor skills is the skill which involves the movement of the body in any direction between different points, it can include jumping (DET, 2013a).

Observation checklist:

  • Eyes focussed
  • Bend ankles, knees and hips
  • Swing arms behind body, then forwards and upwards
  • Legs straighten in the air
  • On landing ankles, knees and hips bend
  • Controlled movement

(Kiddo, n.d.-a.)

  1. Follow the leader, using different locomotor skills and speeds (Holecko, 2018).
  2. Busy feet it’s warm up time (BusyfeetHME, 2012), is an interactive video where students can engage in locomotor movement as they sing the song.
  3. Fun on the spot, students are given different locomotor skills to do on the spot (Sporting Schools, 2015). Provides restless students with a break whilst learning different movements.
  4. Obstacle course, using different locomotor skills to get to each obstacle (DET, 2013b).
  5. Cross the line, students are to jump across the line at various speeds whilst staying steady.
  1. The Arts, ACADAM002 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), explore different locomotor movements to create a dance.
  2. Mathematics, ACMNA001 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), say a number and students jump on the mat with corresponding number.
  3. English, ACELA1439 (ACARA, n.d.-a.), students jump into hoop and must identify the number of syllables in the word.

EYLF and/or Curriculum Links

  • Use different body parts to practice movement skills and sequences (ACARA, n.d.-a., ACPMP008).
  • Outcome 3, children have a strong sense of physical and psychological wellbeing (DET, 2009).

Resource List


Sporting Schools website provides a vast range of resources for educators to aid in the development of students’ gross motor skills, the curriculum resources provide educational games which align with the Health and Physical Education curriculum (Sporting Schools, 2015).


Kiddo is an educational website developed by the University of Western Australia to aid in building fundamental skills in students, this website provides challenges for fundamental skills, videos, checklists, strategies and activities which educators can use to aid in the development of gross motor skills (Kiddo, n.d.-b.). https://www.kiddo.edu.au/

The Department of Education, Western Australia provides educators with two books which improves knowledge and understanding on fundamental movement skills, planning, teaching and assessing, they are practical guides which can be utilised in the classroom (DET, 2013a; DET, 2013b). http://det.wa.edu.au/stepsresources/detcms/navigation/fundamental-movement-skills/

Everyday Play : Fun Games to Develop the Fine Motor Skills Your Child Needs for School (Isbell, 2010), is a book which provides educators with a range of different fun activities which can be undertaken in the classroom to develop and refine students’ fine motor skills. The book contains practical ideas which are fun, engaging children in learning without their knowledge. https://catalogue.curtin.edu.au/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=CUR_ALMA51110721740001951&context=L&vid=CUR_ALMA&lang=en_US&search_scope=CurtinBlended&adaptor=Local%20Search%20Engine&tab=default_tab&query=any,contains,developing%20fine%20motor%20skills&offset=0

Kid Sense Child Development website, although developed by private provider it focuses on paediatric occupational therapy (Kid Sense, n.d.-b.). This website provides developmental checklists, charts, self-assessments and videos which can aid educators in assessing and implementing required strategies to develop age appropriate gross and fine motor skills. https://childdevelopment.com.au/resources/

Good Habitats for Life is a website created by ACT Government providing educators with fundamental movement skills information, videos, and activities and games to aid in developing fundamental movement skills (ACT Government, Health, n.d.). https://goodhabitsforlife.act.gov.au/kids-at-play/fundamental-movement-skills-fms-1




Part B

Activity Name

Explanation of how specific skills (social, emotional, physical) are developed during this activity

Description of activity modification


Here, where, there

Students move in the direction as instructed, here means move towards the educator, there is away, and where is moving on the spot. Include different locomotion movements within the activity.

(Landy & Burridge, 2011)


  • Participation, all ability levels can participate.
  • Students are required to listen in order to hear and follow directions.


  • Inclusive, all students can participate regardless of ability.
  • Independence, students work alone.


  • Fundamental movement skills [FMS] through implementation of locomotion movements.
  • Spacial awareness, students become aware of use of space.


Modification includes:

  • Clear boundaries and instructions.
  • Factoring in noise sensitivity.
  • Teach single elements, moving towards bring all elements together.

 (Landy & Burridge, 2011; Hodge, Lieberman, Murata, 2017)


Form a group

Students are to move around using different forms of locomotion. The educator will then call out a number and students are to form group of that amount.

(Sporting Schools, 2015)


  • Students work as a team.
  • The activity is adapted accordingly to encourage participation.


  • Adapting activity to all ability levels makes it inclusive.
  • Resilience, students learn to deal different outcomes.


  • Students practice different FMS skills as directed.

Sensory impairment – hearing

Modification include:

  • Visual signals instead of verbal, show the number rather than say.
  • Tapping students on the shoulder to gain attention.
  • Speak facing students.

(Aussie Deaf Kids, n.d.)



In small groups each player either rolls or throws the ball at the target area, once everyone has thrown the ball, the balls are collected, and the distance changed.

(Sporting Schools, 2015)


  • Participation, all students demonstrate participation.


  • Inclusion, all students are included.
  • Patience, students are required to take turns.


  • Throwing/rolling, repetition of the skill.

Mobility restriction

Modification for students with mobility restrictions include:

  • Explain instructions at eye level;
  • Have all students participate by sitting down; and
  • Ramps for rolling balls.

(Hodge, Lieberman, Murata, 2017; Sporting Schools, n.d.)


Obstacle course

Set up five obstacle courses, using different FMS focuses . Students in equal numbers line up behind the starting cone and move through each obstacle course. Waiting students undertake static exercises.

(Kiddo, n.d.-c)


  • Helping others through encouragement and assistance.
  • Staying on focussed on course.


  • Inclusivity through modification for ability levels.
  • Patience, students wait for their turn.


  • Balancing tasks assists in developing static and dynamic balance.

Delayed physical skills

Modifications include:

  • Individual coaching of the skill.
  • Adjust locomotion movement requirements to suit ability. 
  • Individual courses.
  • Varying levels of difficulty, ensuring students with delayed physical skills can still achieve success.

 (Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, n.d.)


Catching challenge

Either single, pairs or groups, in an open space, students catch the ball while doing challenges as instructed. Challenges can include clapping between catches and catching after one bounce.

(Sporting Schools, 2015)


  • Students need to listen to ensure they hear and follow directions. 
  • Cooperation with partner/group to complete the activity.


  • Inclusivity through encouragement.
  • Patience develops through turn taking.


  • Development of FMS through repetition.

Advanced physical skills

Challenge students by:

  • Changing the shape, weight of ball and locomotion skill.
  • Timed activity, how many catches in thirty seconds and how many claps between throws.

(Sporting Schools, 2015)


Reference List:


ACT Government, Health. (n.d.). Fundamental movement skills (FMS). Retrieved from https://goodhabitsforlife.act.gov.au/kids-at-play/fundamental-movement-skills-fms-1

Annandale Public School. (n.d.). Suggestions and activities to develop pencil grip: Developmental stages of pencil grip. Retrieved from https://annandale-p.schools.nsw.gov.au/content/dam/doe/sws/schools/a/annandale-p/localcontent/fine_motor_activitiesforwebsite.pdf


Aussie Deaf Kids. (n.d.). Sport modifications. Retrieved from https://www.aussiedeafkids.org.au/sport-modifications.html


Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (n.d.-a.). All learning areas, Foundation – Year 1, All curriculum elements. The Australian curriculum: Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/download?view=f10

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (n.d.-b.). Students with disability. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/resources/student-diversity/students-with-disability/

BusyfeetHME. (2012, November 24). Busy feet it’s warm up time. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MugzDjGDYjo

Can Child. (2013). Scissor activities and the JK/SK student – lunch & learn. Retrieved from https://www.canchild.ca/system/tenon/assets/attachments/000/000/597/original/dcd_scissor_skills_2013.pdf

Department of Education Tasmania. (2016). Handwriting. Retrieved from https://documentcentre.education.tas.gov.au/Documents/Handwriting.pdf

Department of Education Western Australia. (2013a). Fundamental movement skills: The tools for learning, teaching and assessment: Preparing children for an active and healthy lifestyle, book 1. Retrieved from http://det.wa.edu.au/stepsresources/detcms/navigation/fundamental-movement-skills/

Department of Education Western Australia. (2013b). Fundamental movement skills: The tools for learning, teaching and assessment: Preparing children for an active and healthy lifestyle, book 2. Retrieved from http://det.wa.edu.au/stepsresources/detcms/navigation/fundamental-movement-skills/

Department of Education and Training. (2009). Belonging, Being and Becoming - The Early Years Learning Framework Retrieved from https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/05_2015/belonging_being_and_becoming_the_early_years_learning_framework_for_australia.pdf

Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries. (n.d.). Quality coaching. Retrieved from https://www.dsr.wa.gov.au/clubs/juniors-and-youth/quality-coaching

Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. (n.d.). Writing grasps. Retrieved from https://ot.eku.edu/sites/ot.eku.edu/files/files/Writing%20Grasps.pdf

Health Promotion. (n.d.). Fun activities to do at home to practice fundamental movement skills. Retrieved from http://www.healthpromotion.com.au/Documents/FMS/Fun_Activities@home_to_practise_FMS.pdf

Hodge, S.R., Lieberman, L.J., & Murata, N.M. (2017). Essentials of teaching adapted physical education: Diversity, culture and inclusion. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/curtin/reader.action?docID=5065173#

Holecko, C. (2018). How to help kids develop locomotor skills. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfamily.com/locomotor-skills-1256925

Isbell, C. (2010). Everyday play: Fun games to develop the fine motor skills your child needs for school. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/curtin/reader.action?docID=515443&ppg=47

Kiddo. (n.d.-a.). Jumping. Retrieved from https://www.kiddo.edu.au/skills/jumping

Kiddo. (n.d.-b.). Improve your move. Retrieved from https://www.kiddo.edu.au/

Kiddo. (n.d.-c.). Obstacle Course (run, jump, hop, skip, dodge, balance). Retrieved from https://www.kiddo.edu.au/activities/obstacle-course-run-jump-hop-skip-dodge-balance

Kiddo. (n.d.-d.). Balance. Retrieved from https://www.kiddo.edu.au/sites/default/files/pdf/Skill%20PDF_Balance.pdf

Kid Sense. (n.d.-a.). Balance and coordination. Retrieved from https://childdevelopment.com.au/areas-of-concern/gross-motor-skills/balance-coordination/

Kid Sense. (n.d.-b.). Resources. Retrieved from https://childdevelopment.com.au/resources/

Landy, J., & Burridge, K. (2011). Kids with zip: A practical resource for promoting active children ages 3-12 (2nd ed). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education Australia.

Lu, C., & Montague, B. (2016). Move to learn, learn to move: Prioritizing physical activity in early childhood education programming. Early Childhood Education Journal, 44(5), 409-417. doi:http://dx.doi.org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1007/s10643-015-0730-5

Mama OT. (2012). 2 tricks to help kids learn to hold their pencil correctly. Retrieved from http://mamaot.com/3-tricks-to-help-kids-learn-to-hold-their-pencil-correctly/

Occupational Therapy for Children. (n.d.). Parent’s pencil grasp gripping guide. Retrieved from http://occupationaltherapychildren.com.au/parents-pencil-grasp-gripping-guide/

Ockner, S. (2011). Five strategies to improv pencil grasp for school-aged children. Retrieved from http://www.kidzoccupationaltherapy.com/2011/09/25/five-strategies-to-improve-pencil-grip-for-school-aged-children/

School Sparks. (n.d.). Fine motor development. Retrieved from http://www.schoolsparks.com/early-childhood-development/fine-motor

Sporting Schools. (n.d.). Inclusive practices. Retrieved from https://www.sportingschools.gov.au/resources-and-pd/schools/sports-ability/inclusive-practices

Sporting Schools. (2015). Playing for life resources. Retrieved from https://www.sportingschools.gov.au/resources-and-pd/schools/playing-for-life-resources/find-a-card/bands-of-learning

Thomas, L. (2013). Grasp posture modulates attentional prioritization of space near the hands. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 1-7. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00312


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