Fine motor skills are those that involve use of small muscles in the hand, fingers, and thumb. With the development of fine motor skills, your child is able to complete more advanced tasks such as feeding, holding a writing utensil, and buttoning and unzipping clothes. Below is a list of fun fine motor activities that promotes refinement of small hand-coordination.
Lining. Draw squiggles, swirls, and lines and have your child line buttons, pompons, or cheerios on the lines. Step it up a notch and have them glue the objects onto the line.
Sticker fun. Help your child peel stickers and place them along lines on a paper.
Connect the stars. Encourage your child to peel and stick star stickers onto a sheet of paper. Using a crayon or marker, connect the stars.
Q-Tip dots. Have your child dip the q-tip into paint and create dots along lines in a picture.
More information: line work, sticker fun, connect the stars, and q-tip dots allows a child to work on the small muscles in the fingers with varying functional grasps, promotes bilateral hand skills (i.e., hand-eye coordination), postural control and stability, and upper extremity control. Lining, sticker fun, connect the stars, and q-tip dot play stimulates development of skilled finger movements for later activities such as writing, cutting, climbing, and brushing.
Feed the animal. Decorate a tennis ball into an animal and cut a slit for the mouth. Have your child squeeze the tennis ball to open the mouth and feed it with small pieces of paper.
More information: Finger strength is required for everyday self-care tasks including buttoning and zipping articles of clothing, cutting a steak at dinner, and flossing; it helps develop the endurance to complete tasks such as writing a full page; and helps with larger motor tasks including climbing play structures or holding rackets in racket sports.
Hole punch. Use a hole puncher to punch out different letters on a piece of paper.
More information: hole punching allows a child to work on the small muscles in the fingers and palms of their hands through continuous opening and closing of the hand. The same muscles are used for gripping things like writing and eating utensils, toothbrush, and putting on socks and pants.
Sorting buttons. Have your child sort different colored buttons into the corresponding colored bank (cut a small slit in colored plastic containers).
Find the top. Mix several bottles/containers and caps together and have your child match and screw the caps back on.
More information: sorting objects and colors and matching bottle tops targets perception and concepts, a subdomain of cognition (thinking skills), and offers practice with perceptual motor experiences. Perceptual motor deals with receiving information and motor deals with the outcome of the movement; sorting buttons and matching bottle tops helps a child develop body control and better bilateral hand coordination.
Paperclip train. Encourage your child to chain paperclips together.
More information: chaining paperclips take attention to detail (cognitive task), hand-eye coordination, and planning. In addition, this activity helps develop fine motor skills that are foundational to grasping and controlling writing utensils.
Lite Brite. Have your child create designs on the Lite Brite.
Colander and straws. Have your child stick straws into the colander’s holes.
Spicy toothpicks. Place toothpicks into a spice bottle (with small holes).
More information: Lite Brite, colander and straws, and spicy toothpick play not only helps with fine motor development, but helps with perceptual-motor activities that require hand-eye coordination. Placing small plastic pegs or toothpicks into a panel or spice bottle promotes the pincer grasp, bilateral coordination of the child’s hands, planning of what colors or designs to use (cognitive skill), and patience.
Spooning marbles. Use a spoon to spoon marbles into a bottle. Too difficult? Use a ladle and scoop soft air-filled pit balls into a large bucket.
Egg carton sorting. With tongs, have your child move colored pompons into an empty egg carton or a muffin pan.
More information: spooning marbles and egg carton encourages crossing midline (the invisible line in the middle of a child’s body) that is an important developmental milestone that contributes to higher level motor skills; offers an opportunity to use a tool that translates to using other every day tools (e.g., toothbrush, hair brush, etc.); promotes hand-eye or visual tracking coordination; and offers opportunities for a child to learn to grade the speed and force when transferring marbles.
Band the pool noodle! Have your child stretch rubber bands or hair ties over a pool noodle.
Geoboard. Use rubber bands to create designs on a geoboard.
More information: your child will use his hands and fingers to stretch the band. Placing the bands over the pool noodle or geoboard promotes bilateral hand skills and upper extremity control that support more advanced motor skills.
Collecting coupons! With your supervision, have your child cut out coupons of healthy snacks.
More information: cutting allows a child to work on the small muscles in the fingers and palms of their hands through continuous opening and closing of the hand. The same muscles are used for gripping things like writing and eating utensils, toothbrush, and putting on socks and pants.
Pom pom sorting: Fine motor skills activity. [image]. (2016). Retrieved from http://busytoddler.com/2016/05/pom-pom-sorting-fine-motor-skills-activity/