Inside: Working on a vertical surface is important for building toddler fine motor skills. An easy way to do this is rolling paint up and down paper using brayers. Toddlers love the rolling motion!
When my toddler classroom first got its easel, I was super excited.
Great! Now they have an new area to paint on!
I had no idea just how important working on a vertical surface was.
I mean, I knew it would help build toddler fine motor skills.
But I had no idea exactly how.
Until I had a child with motor delays and her therapist visited the classroom.
She took one look at our easel and asked if she could use it with the child.
After watching the therapist work with her at the easel, and then doing some further reading, I discovered just why this piece of classroom furniture is so important.
And it’s now an every day activity.
How to Build Toddler Fine Motor Skills by Using Brayers at the Easel
We all know how to put together fine motor activities on a flat surface.
It’s convenient, after all, with all the tables in our classrooms.
But here’s what I’ve learned.
Using a vertical surface gets the core muscles engaged.
It puts the wrist in a different position than when working on a flat surface, strengthening it for future writing.
It’s an important way to build toddler fine motor skills, but in a way that they love!
There are so many different ways to use the easel.
In fact, I have shared some of our favorites here:
But one of my very favorite ways to use the easel is with brayers.
My toddlers would agree!
First of all, it’s the whole rolling paint thing.
Toddlers love motion. They love pushing cars around, right?
This is a very similar idea.
We like to use brayers because of their sturdiness and size.
The handles fit nicely in toddler hands, allowing them to have more control.
Having more control makes the activity more successful.
You’ve seen toddlers get frustrated when a toy or tool they are using isn’t meant for their size.
I also love using brayers because of the simplicity.
Truly, all you need is paper, paint, and the brayer.
Our toddlers have no issues sharing space at the easel, so I make sure to put a couple of brayers on the tray.
I loved how these 2 two-year-olds managed to work around each other.
As one pushed his roller up, the other pulled her roller down.
The very beginnings of learning how to work together.
I’ve had readers ask, “What about using a paint roller, like you’d find in the paint department of the hardware store?”
You could, but they are quite a bit different than a brayer. Their handles are usually longer and heavier.
A good alternative to the brayer is a small plastic roller, like the type you get in a play dough accessory kit. They are meant for small hands and are lightweight.
But my favorite, hands down, is using an authentic brayer. It’s worth the extra cost because it will last a long time.
Some of ours are going on 19 years!
Watch the video of the process here:
More ways to work on a vertical surface:
- Magnets on the refrigerator.
- Drawing on a white board that is attached to the wall or on an easel.
- Placing felt pieces on an upright felt board.
- Using sidewalk chalk outside on a cement wall.
- Spraying windows with water.
- Using paintbrushes and water on the side of the building.
You also might be interested in these art tips for toddlers:
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