Teaching and learning

Preschool activities with googly eyes

Developing fine motor skills in early education with googly eyes.
Preschool children playing at a childcare
September 21, 2023
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In a hurry? Here’s the quick run-down:

  • What to do with the hundreds of googly eyes you have (from Halloween activities to everyday activities)
  • You’ll learn how googly eyes are more than just an arts and crafts activity, but actually help children develop their fine motor skills
  • What are fine motor skills and why are they important?
  • How do googly eyes help develop fine motor skills?

Is it just me, or do you feel like the U.S. is always planning way far in advance for the next holiday?

Now that the “back to school” commotion has passed, you have probably noticed Halloween decorations in the stores, and costume stores popping up all around, and you are beginning to think about how to decorate your classroom. 

And this brings us to googly eyes…

Googly eyes are some of the best materials for Halloween themed learning activities for preschoolers. From pipe-cleaner spiders, to picture frames, to toilet paper monsters, and more - the googly eyed creations are endless. 

But, what you may not have known is that googly eyes are actually great for a child's development - specifically their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Googly eyes are not only a fun arts and crafts activity for preschoolers, but they are extremely beneficial to their overall development. So Halloween decorations aside, googly eyes are great materials for your lesson plans and activities. 

We'll explain more below.

What are fine motor skills?

As defined by Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, fine motor skills are movements that we do with our smaller muscles. 

They are “generally thought of as the movement and use of hands and upper extremities,” and include actions like “reaching, grasping and manipulating objects with your hands.” Further, it is not just the movements themselves, but the ability to control those movements. 

Visual-motor skills is also a type of fine motor skills, and is responsible for hand-eye coordination. 

The children in your classroom are probably already working on these skills in your classroom with activities like jigsaw puzzles, stacking construction blocks, using crayons and paint brushes, etc.  

The Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU also explains that in addition to fine motor skills, we also have gross motor skills. Gross motor skills "involves the large muscles in the arms, legs and torso. Gross motor activities are important to everyday physical activities like walking, running, throwing, lifting, kicking, etc."

But, now back to fine motor movements and googly eyes.

Why are fine motor skills so important in early childhood?

It is essential for little ones to engage in various activities that help them develop fine motor skills and motor control while their bodies and habits are still forming. 

This article by Tanja Mcilroy broke down the reasons why developing fine motor skills in our younger years is so critical to our development and our future. 

However, if you do not want to read that full post, it is actually very simple. 

Fine motor skills enable children to gain independence and help with overall self-care and daily tasks, such as:

  • Picking up their own food
  • Brushing their teeth
  • Putting on a seatbelt
  • Getting dressed in the morning
  • Turning pages of a book
  • And so much more.   

Additionally, their options of exploring creatively expands as they can interact with so many more objects and materials in their surroundings. This ability to engage and experiment more further enhances their learning skills and overall development, and provides an excellent foundation. As children develop their fine motor skills and gain more independence, they also gain more self-confidence. 

Googly eyes are a great, creative place to start when trying to teach preschoolers fine motor skills. 

How can you improve the fine motor skills in preschoolers with googly eyes?

From picking up, to pinching, to sticking, to placing, the hand-eye coordination required when playing with googly eyes, it is fun craft activity for preschoolers, that also improves their fine motor skills development. 

Here are some super simple examples of how googly eyes are great for development: 

  • Picking them up
    Those tiny googly eyes provide a challenge for small fingers to grasp. You could even increase the challenge more by adding some tools like tweezers. Why not challenge the children to collect a certain number within a time limit? 
  • Pinching them tightly
    Once you’ve got hold of your googly eye, you’d better hold it tight! That special pincer grasp, where children hold a small object between their thumb and index finger is the foundation for the tripod grasp, needed to hold a pencil correctly. 
  • Gluing googly eyes
    From pipe cleaners to picture frames to paper towel rolls, the materials that googly eyes can be glued to are endless. Keeping hands steady and placing the googly eye where the child wants it is a great way to develop fine motor skills. Hand-eye coordination is key here, whether the children are using gloopy, runny glue or a solid stick. Encourage the children to experiment with both to see which combinations work best.
  • Placing them down
    Once again, some good hand-eye coordination is needed here to get those googly eyes where you want them. Children could practice making a mark on their craftwork where they want to put the eyes, then carefully placing the eyes ‘on target’. Here’s a great opportunity to extend the activity by introducing some positional language, “Where should the eyes go? At the top, middle, or bottom? To the left or to the right?”  

Googly Eye Activities for your Preschool Classroom

If you have ever ordered googly eyes, you know that they are sold in packs of at least 500. Let’s be honest. No one needs that many. 

Once Halloween is over, you are still left with hundreds of googly eyes around the classroom. That’s why we gathered some fun activities for preschoolers that use googly eyes. These preschool activity ideas with googly eyes will be fun and support the child's fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. 

The big ideas

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Official Danish Government Reopening Advice

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UK Nursery Covid-19 Response Group Recommendations

The full recommendations from a working group of over 70 nursery chains in the UK.

Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

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