With a recent robot theme, I wanted to come up with something simple for our math/fine motor center. I have a random collection of nuts and bolts because of activities and crafts like this Father’s Day frame. Engineer was playing with them one day, and he had a blast! His enthusiasm for those simple pieces of hardware inspired me — that’s how this easy sorting and fine motor activity came to be!
Nuts & bolts make for a fun math and fine motor activity
Predictably, this didn’t take long at all to set up! First, I checked that each nut and bolt had a match. Then, I placed a selection of nuts into one container, with the bolt counterparts in another.
I didn’t give the children any instructions for the activity, as I wanted to see what they would do on their own. If they asked for help, I’d be there to prompt them with questions and suggestions. As it turns out, they didn’t need any assistance at all! I wasn’t really surprised about that, though.
The nuts and bolts were out for about a week during center time, as well as free choice time. During this time, the kiddos interacted with the materials in a variety of ways. Of course, some of the ways they used the nuts and bolts were a surprise to me! This is why I love doing “free exploration” with materials sometimes. Without the hindrance of my ideas, they choose to do so much more than expected!
I saw children sorting the nuts and bolts in a variety of ways. Some placed all the nuts in one pile and all the bolts in another pile. They sorted the nuts and bolts into many piles by size. Some of the kiddos even lined the nuts and bolts up from smallest to largest!
The children also explored which nuts fit with which bolts. They worked their little fingers hard attaching the nuts to the bolts. A few of the children were surprised to discover I had more nuts than bolts, so they worked to see how many could fit on one bolt.
What entertained me the most was watching the children building with the nuts and bolts! They stacked them on top of each other, trying to balance. A few of the students even used the nuts to attach multiple bolts to each other. Such creativity!
This oh-so-easy idea ended up touching on a variety of important preschool skills:
- Tons of fine motor work as they attached the nuts and bolts. Even picking up and sorting the hardware gave their fingers a workout.
- Lots of math skills – even more than I originally thought. They sorted, counted, and classified smallest to largest.
- Language skills as they discussed their findings and negotiated who was doing what. This ended up requiring a lot of back and forth!
- Creativity galore as they came up with new ways to create and play with the nuts and bolts.
- Sensory experiences as they touched the nuts and bolts, as they compared and contrasted them, and as they listened to the noises the hardware made.
For more nuts and bolts fun, check out the following ideas
- Filth Wizardy’s Giant Homemade Geoboard
- Spelling with Nuts & Bolts from No Time for Flash Cards
- How Wee Learn’s The Nuts and Bolts of Learning with Tools
- Printing with Nuts and Bolts and Screws from Picklebums
So, what do you think of this incredibly simple fine motor activity? Have your kids ever played with nuts and bolts?
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