Fine Motor Skills Activities for Toddlers and Beyond

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Fine motor skills are critically important for early learners.

Children begin developing fine motor skills as toddlers but development continues through kindergarten and beyond. It’s important for children to master fine motor skills in order to do things like dress themselves and brush their teeth.

However, fine motor skills are needed at school too. Handwriting for instance, relies on strong fine motor skills development. Children must be able to properly hold a pencil and use it to make lines and shapes.

You might be wondering, won’t children just learn these things naturally?

Perhaps, but mastering fine motor skills with a certain level of proficiency will help your students to be more successful, so it’s a good idea to practice these skills at home and in the classroom too. Keep reading to learn more about fine motor skills activities you can practice  with your students this year.

Fine motor skills activities

What are Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills are skills that involve small movements of the wrists, hands, fingers, feet, and toes. These small or fine movements help us to do things like pick up objects between our thumb and fingers.

Activities commonly linked to fine motor skills include:

  • using pencils
  • controlling scissors
  • manipulating buttons and zippers and
  • building with small blocks

Mastering fine motor skills goes beyond whether or not a child can simply do the task. It takes into account the quality of the work and the speed with which it was performed.

Tasks involving fine motor skills include:

Academic Skills

As educators, we tend to focus mostly on academic skills that require fine motor abilities.

The two biggest educational tasks your students will need to complete proficiently are pencil skills and scissor skills. 

There are so many ways to have fun practicing these important academic fine motor skills with your students.

Preschool and kindergarten learners can practice pencil skills with directed drawing, pre-writing pages, and by learning to write their own name

Free name tracing worksheet to learn to write your name

Kids are always excited to use scissors. Time spent doing arts and crafts provides a great opportunity to extend your lessons. It also builds in time for practicing important early scissor skills to build fine motor skills proficiency with your preschoolers and kindergartners. 

Play Based Skills

Time spent in centers provides lots of opportunities for building fine motor skills through play.

Play based skills that help build fine motor proficiency include building with small blocks, playing with PlayDoh, dressing and manipulating dolls, and computer skills like manipulating a mouse or stylus.

Check out these great toys for building fine motor skills with kids of all ages:

  • Linzy Plush Educational Doll
    • This doll has a removable outfit. Dressing and undressing is a major bonus when it comes to fine motor work. It also has a zipper, buttons, and a removable strap so your preschoolers can work their fine motor skills. But that’s not all! You can even practice learning how to tie and velcro shoes.
  • Printable Zoo Clip Cards
    • This activity is great to work on beginning reading skills such as syllables as well as fine motor skills.
fine motor skills activities with clothes pins
  • Lego Duplo Bricks
  • Learning Resources Hoot the Owl
    • Your preschooler will build hand strength, coordination, scissor skills, and other fine motor essentials with this fine motor skills activity. It comes with 4 hands on fine motor activities and also teaches your child colors, shapes, and numbers!
  • Poke-a-dot Books from Melissa & Doug
    • 20-page interactive board book with buttons to press and “pop” on every page to encourage language development, counting, and fine motor skills.

Self Care

Practicing self care skills with your kids will also help them to develop fine motor skills.

Skills like:

  • dressing themselves (zippers and buttons)
  • feeding themselves (manipulating forks and spoons) and
  • various hygiene related tasks (brushing teeth and hair)

provide great opportunities for building fine motor skills with young children. In the classroom, these activities can often be simulated for extra fine motor skills practice.

fine motor skill building by buttoning shirts

Building Fine Motor Skills with Toddlers

Toddlers are beginning to develop early fine motor skills. While every child develops at their own pace, you can encourage your toddlers to practice fine motor skills development in all kinds of fun ways.

Children will continue developing these skills through preschool and kindergarten. Here are some important early fine motor skills to practice:

  • Pointing
  • Pincher Grasp
  • Palmer Arches
  • Wrist Stability

You can work on these skills through play and practicing everyday activities like hand washing and dressing. Here are some fun activities to try with your toddlers for fine motor skill building:

  • Enjoy finger foods. Set up a finger food buffet and let them have at it. Veggies and fruit trays are usually a big hit here.
  • Build a block tower. Manipulating and stacking blocks by hand is great for building fine motor skills and hand eye coordination.
  • Scribble on paper or use finger paint. Practicing holding crayons, pencils, or markers properly and using them to create some adorable toddler art is a great way to begin practicing fine motor skills with your toddlers.
  • Read a book together. Let your toddler turn the pages to build finger strength and coordination for excellent fine motor skills.
  • Make necklaces. Stringing beads, cereal, or dry pasta on yarn to build “necklaces” and “bracelets” with your toddlers is a fun way to get creative and build fine motor skills together.
Lacing activities for kids to build fine motor skills

Keep reading to discover more fun ways to build important early fine motor skills with preschoolers in the classroom and at home.

Preschool Fine Motor Skills Practice

Mastering fine motor skills will help your preschooler develop independence as well as important academic skills they’ll need later. You can practice fine motor skills at home or in the classroom in lots of fun ways.

Check out these fun activities to try:

At Home

  • Practice clapping hands together: Clapping games and learning to clap to the beat of music are excellent skills to practice with preschoolers.
  • Use finger plays to practice finger manipulation: The Itsy Bitsy Spider and Where is Thumbkin are big favorites with our preschoolers.
  • Practice buttoning and unbuttoning: Begin practicing this fine motor skills activity with extra clothing the kids are not wearing before trying to button shirts they have on.
  • Learn how to use zippers: Kids love playing with zippers! Give your preschoolers a zippered bag and lots of small items to put inside. Have them practice packing and unpacking while zipping and unzipping the bag.
  • Build towers with 10 or more blocks: Wooden blocks, Lego style bricks, and even blocks made from foam sponges work well for this. Using different textures adds a sensory element to this fine motor skills activity.
  • Complete puzzles with 5 of more pieces: Begin with wooden puzzles for ease and move to jigsaw style puzzle pieces. 

In the Classroom

  • Cutting Practice: Cutting out simple shapes like circles, squares, and triangles
  • Tracing Practice: Copy a circle, cross, lines, or other simple shapes on paper
  • Coloring Pages: Manipulate pencils or crayons for coloring and drawing
  • Making Collage Art: Paste things onto paper or create collage art
  • Complete puzzles with 5 or more pieces: I like to start with wooden peg puzzles and move to larger wooden puzzles before introducing floor puzzles and other  jigsaw puzzles with my preschoolers.
fine motor skills development

Practicing Fine Motor Skills in Kindergarten

By kindergarten, your students should have developed many fine motor skills like:

  • zipping
  • teeth brushing
  • grasping a pencil or crayon and
  • pasting

There are still many skills that need to be developed though. You can help by focusing on fine motor skills activities that are fun for kindergarteners.

Here are some ideas:

Fine Motor Skills Activities At Home

  • Wrap Presents: Help wrap gifts using scissors and tape. Focus on the process and don’t expect a perfectly wrapped finished product.
  • Play board games: Games with dice and small pieces are a great way to build finger strength and practice fine motor skills with kindergartners.
  • Use sidewalk chalk to practice pencil grip: Small pieces that are 2 inches or less in length are perfect for fine motor skills practice because kindergartners will naturally hold them with a proper pencil grip.
  • Play with squirt bottles: Squirt bottles like ketchup containers can help to build finger strength by squeezing so they make a fun fine motor skills activity. Fill them with water or washable paint. Then, go outside and have some fun!
Squirt bottle activity for fine motor skills

In the Classroom

  • Set up a sand writing station: This Montessori style fine motor skills activity for kindergartners is the perfect way to practice forming letters and numbers.
  • Use erasable markers to complete worksheets: Put worksheets in page protectors and give your kindergarten students erasable markers to use. Having kids erase the pages and complete them multiple times will create lots of fun opportunities to practice fine motor skills.
  • Paint a class mural: Holding paint brushes at a 90 degree angle is a fun way to build finger muscles and strength with kids.
  • Create a building station: Loose parts like nuts, bolts, and a tape measure inspire creativity and require children to use fine motor skills in a new and exciting way.
  • Create a bean mosaic: This art project with dried beans and glue is a fun fine motor skills activity that will help kids practice skills such as manipulating small objects, using a pincher grasp, and pasting.
  • Practice handwriting: Kindergarten is a good time to begin building fine motor skills by learning to write letters, numbers, and their own names. Encourage your students by having them create their own nametags and other fun handwriting activities.

When are Fine Motor Skills Fully Developed?

Children begin developing fine motor skills at birth and they continue honing these skills throughout childhood.

Young babies and toddlers begin by developing palmer arches that allow them to cup their palms.

In preschool, children develop other skills like buttoning, zipping, and grasping objects with finger muscles. Various fine motor skills activities are important at this age to help kids continue to develop fine motor skills properly.

Kids go on developing and mastering fine motor skills needed at school throughout their early elementary years. 

More Ways to Help Preschoolers Develop Fine Motor Skills in the Classroom

Helping kids develop fine motor skills in the classroom can be a lot of fun for everyone. I have put together lots of great activities for helping preschoolers build fine motor skills while having fun and learning throughout the year.

I’m so excited to share these themed activity bundles with you to help you practice fine motor skills with your students at home and in the classroom this year.

Here are a few of our favorites: 

Winter Activity for Preschoolers

This winter activity is a whole lot of fun for preschoolers.

winter preschool activity

Kids can create their own winter wonderland inside a snow globe! Plus, it’s an excellent way to practice fine motor skills and early numeracy skills like number sense, counting, and one to one correspondence.

Preschoolers will build fine motor skills as they work with tongs or use their fingers to grasp small “snowflakes.”

We really like using marshmallows for this activity because they make a fun snack at the end. However, you can use pom poms, small cotton balls, or even these miniature foam snowflake shapes.

When you download this winter activity set, you’ll get 15 different counting cards to help your preschoolers build early math skills and fine motor skills all winter long!

Valentine’s Themed Lessons

I just love Valentine’s Day lessons! You can use this themed preschool lesson pack to practice all kinds of important early learning skills with your preschoolers this year.

Preschool Valentines Day activities for math

Build fine motor skills with a fun Valentine’s Day themed roll and cover activity. Preschoolers can cut out and paste together the included die for this roll and cover activity page. Then, build fine motor skills by covering the objects on the included activity page with small chocolate chips, heart gems, or bingo markers.

Later, practice pre-writing skills and proper pencil grip with your preschoolers by tracing “love letters” with a fun Valentine’s Day worksheet activity.

valentines-letter-activity

It’s a great way to build the fine motor skills they’ll need for handwriting later. You know what else is a great for your preschoolers fine motor muscles? Tear art!

Fine motor activity tearing paper and gluing it

These are a favorite in my household, and for good reason!

Hand your toddler or preschooler a piece of construction paper and let them tear it into tiny squares. Then, create artwork by gluing the pieces of paper on a Valentines heart template.

Your little ones will be strengthening their fine motor skills with every tear of paper and squeeze of the glue bottle.

Santa Advent Calendar Craft and Activities

This activity is a fun and engaging way to create a Santa advent calendar craft with your preschooler.

Santa Advent Calendar fine motor skills

You can build fine motor skills with your kids while counting down the days until Christmas with this fun advent calendar craft.

Use scissors and a glue bottle to strengthen your little ones fine motor muscles. Then, use cotton balls with tweezers for extra fun and fine motor skills practice with your preschoolers.

In Conclusion

Practicing fine motor skills with fun activities inside the classroom and at home creates lots of opportunities for early learners to develop and perfect these important skills.

I hope these fine motor skills activities have given you lots of great ideas for how you can help your preschoolers practice proper pencil grip, handwriting, and develop finger strength while having fun this year.

Do you have a great way to practice fine motor skills in the classroom that I didn’t mention? Share your ideas in the comment section.

I can’t wait to read about how you’re building fine motor skills with your preschoolers and try it out with my own little learners!

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