Ideas to Acquire Fine Motor Skills

English learners need Fine Motor Skills for Writing 

Create Opportunities to Develop Fine Motor Skills

fine motor skills
Provide opportunities for cutting and painting.

After your ELL students have developed gross-motor skills they are ready to work on fine motor skills. They need lots of opportunities to use their hands and fingers. The more often they grip a marker, pencil, or scissors, the better. Merging these activities into school activities is best. This helps develop the muscle control they need for early writing.

Use Play to Develop Fine Motor Skills

It is natural to keep all this merged with play to make it fun.  Try making illustrations on writing paper. Let them cut out pictures to illustrate stories.  You can help and guide ,your students but the way they get better at it is to do it themselves. Make sure you make a big fuss about what a great job they did. Even if the lines are not even and the cutting is jagged! It encourages them to try again! Remember to try creative and practical ways to build fine-motor skills.

  1. fine motor skills
    Students love to get ready for recess

    Glue things onto paper

  2. Clap hands to music
  3. Touch fingers when singing nursery rhymes
  4. Button and unbutton their jackets
  5. Work a zipper on a jacket
  6. Put on a hat
  7. Build forts with blocks
  8. Complete puzzles with five or more pieces
  9. Manipulate pencils and crayons well enough to color and draw
  10. Copy a circle or cross onto a piece of paper
  11. Cut out simple shapes with safety scissors

Connect fine motor skills with gross motor skills…….read more



It’s Your Turn:

Opportunities for fine motor skills

  • Color and draw
  • Cut with safety scissors
  • Button shirts and zip jackets
  • Develop muscle control

Play for fine motor skills

  • Play with puzzles and blocks
  • Use imagination for creative play
  • Clap to nursery rhymes and songs
  • Establish fine-motor control

Practical Guide to Teach Print Concepts

Teaching Print Concepts to ELL students

print concepts
Ell students love to listen to books.

Before children ever get to school, they should be listening to books read to them.  They enjoy hearing stories and it really helps them develop language critical to early literacy. English language learners may have heard stories read to them in their native language.  This will help with their  early literacy skills in L1 and eventually L2.  They do not even have to be reading when they learn  “print concepts.”

When you read to students all you have to do is use  “self-talk” as you are reading the books. These are basic things you automatically do when you are reading that children do not always notice. You have to make what you are doing explicit. They may pick this up just by watching but it is more effective if you use “self-talk.” There are “self-talk” words to use as you are reading. Be sure not to try teaching this all in one setting.

Practice Self-Talk

Just add one self-talk idea at a time and review from time to time.

  • Show them the front and back of the book and how we treat books (carefully!)
  • Tell them what the author does and what the illustrator does as you point to their names.
  • Mention which page you start on and which word you read first.
  • Talk about the direction you read words and what you do when you finish reading the first page.
  • Show them how you do a “return-sweep” with your finger when there is more than one line of text.
  • Occasionally, point to a line of text, word-by-word, and ask the students to repeat the sentence with you.
  • Tell them the difference between a word and a sentence.



print concepts
Check your students neighborhood for a Little Free Library or start one!

It’s Your Turn:

  • Read stories to your ELL students
  • Develop language
  • Teach early literacy skills
  • Develop print concepts

Practice Self-Talk

  • Use self-talk about how books work
  • Teach one idea at a time
  • Review ideas from time to time
  • Research for more print activities you can do 

For further ideas – check out the following…..





Super Tips to Read Environmental Print with ELL Students

How to Read Environmental Print 

Reading Environmental Print with ELL Students

environmental print
McDonalds – ELL’s  can read this logo.

The most often overlooked way of learning to read is environmental print. Books are not the only way that students  learn to read. Scores of early reading experiences happen even before school starts. 

Environmental print is familiar signs that a child recognizes in their life.  Even before they know what the word says, they know what it means.  How many children recognize the McDonald’s logo?  Nearly all of them! However, it is what you can do next that makes this learning exciting!

Print Logos from Internet

Once your student recognizes signs, print the logo from the Internet. Next, make a “read-it-yourself” book using the logo. Use a few simple words on each page when you tell the story about the time they saw that logo. You can even have your students  help you with the writing! Remember to use the child’s name in the book. Finally, read the book just like you read other books. This will quickly become their favorite!

environmental print
Some environmental print keeps you safe.

Which logos are important?  The ones that teach safety, or the ones that brings positive memories.  It can even be an event that started out to be a little stressful.  A trip to the hospital for a broken arm may seem stressful.  A book about that event after it is over will help them remember everything turned out fine. This print is really great for early reading experiences.

For more ideas go to…….


It’s Your Turn:

Read Environmental Print

  • Notice signs
  • Point to the sign when you see it
  • Name the sign
  • Read the sign

Print Environmental Print

  • Print environmental print logos from the Internet
  • Make a book with the logos
  • Keep the book and the memory forever
  • Reread the book often

Benefits of Storytelling

Storytelling with your ELL Student

Beginning Storytelling

storytelling about experieces
Tell stories about experiences – past and present.

Storytelling is an age-old experience handed down through generations. It is a great way to introduce beginning reading. In the beginning, storytelling does not have to include books.  At first, just tell stories that you have heard when you were a child.   Remember not to just summarize the event, i.e., “One time I went to the zoo Instead, tell all the details of the day, where you went, what was said and all the funny events. 

Feel free to “exaggerate” some of the details to make the stories more interesting.  Your students will love them!  Even events you think are not interesting become great stories if you add voices, actions and feelings. Oral storytelling helps students understand a “sense of story, “ or the way stories work.

What should your stories include?

Having a “sense of story” means knowing that stories have a beginning, middle, and an end. They often have a problem or two in the middle that the characters have to solve by the end. Understanding the “sense of story” is a skill stud can learn, even before they can read the words. The idea of storytelling is to tell the “gist” or the basic idea of the story. Use the illustrations on each page to talk about what the characters say and do. As you move to books, you do not have to always read the book exactly as written. Feel free to add your own expression and words. Wordless books are great to use with storytelling!

storytelling wordless picture books
Use wordless picture books for storytelling.

Guidelines for great storytelling…….



It’s Your Turn:

Beginning Story Telling

  • Tell personal stories
  • Feel free to “exaggerate”
  • Add wordless books or picture books
  • Develop “sense of story”

Include in Stories

  • Tell the “gist” of the story
  • Tell the beginning, middle, and end
  • Include a problem to solve
  • Modify text in books and be expressive

Strategic Ways to Use Nursery Rhymes … With Your ELL Students!

Many Students are Visual learners – They need to see print


nursery rhymes
Jump over the candlestick!!

          Jack be Nimble,

          Jack be Quick,

          Jack Jump Over the Candlestick!


What about the visual learner?  And, how does listening to nursery rhymes and dancing help them?  Seems like visual learners learn from seeing the words when they sing and dance. At first,  you can show a few words at a time to keep it simple. However, as children grow older, you can advance to longer nursery rhymes. Also, these rhymes can be printed like poetry and music. Furthermore, changing the types of music and dance you play helps all types of learners. So, search for rhymes and songs online or at your library.  Therefore, these rhymes and songs will help all types of learners.  They help auditory, visual and kinesthetic learners.

visual / kinesthetic
See the words and sing!

Also, try out some of the activities in this link:

Kinesthetic learners feel the rhythm

nursery rhymes
Feel the rhythm and hear the rhyme.

In addition to listening, kinesthetic learners enjoy movement!  Therefore, listening to music supports active movement.  Most noteworthy, a program called, “Jolly Phonics,” adds certain hand movements to each sound.  This is a program widely used in preschool and kinder classrooms.  In time, these movements are paired with letters.   So, students can connect sounds of letters with certain movements. These movements support sounds and language.  Thus, these learners enjoy repeating specific movements.   Finally, this repeating supports recall of sounds and words.



It’s Your Turn:

Visual Learners See Print

  • View words to nursery rhymes
  • Sing words to music
  • Dance and move
  • Match words with nursery rhymes and songs

Kinesthetic Learners Feel the Rhythm

  • Listen to music
  • Dance to music
  • Create special movements
  • Match movements with sounds