Mr. Potato Head is a classic toy that promotes fine motor development in many different ways. Children as young as 12 months can begin to learn how to place the parts into the body. Children must use many different finger muscles to move the pieces around in their hands in order to hold the pieces the correct way (peg away from the palm of the hand) in order to place the object in the potato body. Hand-eye coordination is required and learned through practice when placing the pegs in the holes. A good deal of of strength is required to push the pieces all
the way in, as well as to pull them out. As your child gets older and is able, encourage them to use one hand to hold the potato steady while the other hand places the object in. This requires bi-lateral coordination (using 2 hands together to accomplish a task). With younger children, do not worry about placing the pieces in the correct spaces. This skill will come with age and body awareness. As your child gets older, you can begin talking about where parts go (eyes above the nose) and you can look in a mirror with your child to show them the parts on their own bodies.
~Sarah Eller, Occupational Therapist
Daily tips, activities, and suggestions on how to naturally embed speech, language, play, fine motor, gross motor, and cognitive skills into your child's day, often using the materials already found in your home environment.
Marena Mitchell is a speech-language pathologist