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Am J Occup Ther. 2003 Sep-Oct;57(5):550-7.

Fine motor activities in Head Start and kindergarten classrooms.

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  • 1Department of Occupational Therapy, Utica College of Syracuse University, 1600 Burrstone Road, Utica, New York 13502, USA.



The purpose of this study was to describe and compare the fine motor activities in Head Start and kindergarten classrooms in order to open a dialogue between the two contexts about the fine motor activities children in preschool will face in kindergarten.


Children in 10 Head Start and 10 kindergarten classrooms were observed for 1 day each. Time spent in activities was categorized into four groups: fine motor activities with no academic purpose, fine motor activities with academic purpose, academic activities with no fine motor component, and nonacademic activities with no fine motor component. Percentages of time were calculated and t tests were used for comparison between contexts.


Children in Head Start spent 27%-46% (mean of 37%) of the in-class day in all fine motor activities whereas children in kindergarten spent 36%-66% (mean of 46%). For children in kindergarten, 42% of total fine motor activity time involved paper and pencil activities. In contrast, children in Head Start spent 10% of total fine motor activity time in paper and pencil activities.


The higher mean percent of time spent in fine motor activities in kindergarten classrooms suggests a developmentally appropriate increase in fine motor demands. The percent of paper and pencil activity time the children engaged in substantially increased from Head Start to kindergarten. The findings describe a difference between the two environments, informing Head Start of the fine motor demands their graduates face in kindergarten.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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