In the Gospels, Jesus is called a tekton, which is literally translated into someone who works with wood, or a carpenter. It’s a small detail that’s only mentioned twice in the New Testament once in Matthew 13:55 and once in Mark 6:3. Of all the things that Jesus is known for, it’s of no surprise to me that He is known for the work of His hands.
My nails are always uneven and my polish always chipped. My grip on things that aren’t mine to control is too tight, and often I drop everything that I am carrying. Books. Phone. Friendships. Appointments. That‘s the work of my hands.
And my son. He has recently become fascinated with clips, switches, wheels, and anything little that he can do with his hands. We spend lots of time turning on and off the switches of things, putting small pieces of toys into larger boxes, and then taking them out. His little fingers work only as fast as his brain can learn, which is at such a rapid pace. See, my mind, and heart, get stuck in a rut. I see things black and white and I don’t believe they can change. But not Chip. He sees possibilities. New outcomes. Actions and reactions.
And so to cultivate this curiosity and outlook on life, my husband made this beautiful fine motor skills board. In all honesty, it turned out so much better than I envisioned. Because, again, I don’t always see things in the vivid color that they can be. But my husband does. And Chip does. My husband added locks, a wheel, light switches, hooks, clips, ropes, and doors. All for the sake of cultivating his fine motors skills, yes, but also the curiosity, the perseverance, and the character that is built by learning to work through things. And to work with our hands.
Carpentry. Working with wood. But also just learning to work with our hands. As I watch my son’s little fingers move the locks and push the switches, I am reminded of the importance of getting our hands dirty, our polish chipped, and a few paper cuts here and there. And while this board is accomplishing what it’s intent is, and Chip’s fine motor skills are being sharpened, I hope that he also learns a few more things from this piece of carpentry as the years go by.
I hope he learns to persevere when he can’t get something the first time. That he sees that his actions have reactions. And consequences. Both good and bad. That wheels turn in all directions and can guide us back home or farther out to sea. That locks have their place, but that our home is a space where people are welcomed. And most of all, I hope that he learns to work with his hands. We all have moments when perseverance feels too hard, and the building of character is hardly the reward we’re looking for. My hope is that in those moments we can remember that a little dirt on our hands, compared to nails in His, is hardly anything.
DIY Fine Motor Skills Board
All of these pieces are merely guidelines. Watch the little one you are making this for and choose the appropriate pieces!
1 medium to large piece of wood
4 small squares or mounting blocks to place on the back of the board in order to mount it to the wall
paint - as many colors and designs as you'd like!
2 light switches
1 rope with hooks placed at the top of the board
3-4 clips which open different ways
1 wheel from your favorite toy manufacturer
2-3 different types of locks
1 spring door stop
Be sure to measure the distance that you'd like each item to be placed. Some of the locks you'll want to create a door for, and you don't want the open door to hit the other pieces! Also think about what you'd like in the door. A picture of you? A mirror? The child's favorite animal? The possibilities here are endless, and we found that it was very stimulating for Chip to not put all of the like pieces together, but instead spread them out so that as our son's attention wandered, he'd get interested in another object on the board.
He truly loves this board, and will play with it for long periods of time on end! It's so fun to see him learn all the hooks and switches!