25 Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers
Parents always hear about the importance of fine motor skills for their toddlers and preschoolers. But what exactly are fine motor skills? Fine motor skills involve small movements of the fingers, wrists, hands, feet, toes, tongue, and lips.Whether your preschool-age child is developing typically or has fine motor delays, it's great to practice a variety of fine motor skills.
Examples of fine motor skills include crossing midline, bilateral coordination, tool use, grasp, release, and finger isolation. Fine motor activities build hand strength, attention to detail, and eye-hand coordination that can improve handwriting, participation in physical activities, and problem-solving abilities.
Here are 25 fine motor activities you can do with your preschooler to target these skills:
- Parent uses a highlighter to draw shapes, write letters, or write words on paper. Give your child a darker pencil or marker to trace over your lines.
- Parent draws different types of lines, like straight, zig zag, and wavy lines on paper. Child cuts along all the different lines using small scissors with rounded ends.
- Parent cuts a straw into small segments and ties a knot at the end of a shoelace. Child strings small pieces of the straw on to the shoelace.
- Parent takes small objects, like coins, counting bears, or plastic bugs, and ‘buries’ them inside a container filled with play dough. Child will have to dig through the play dough to retrieve all of the objects. See this great homemade play dough recipe to make your own and save money. If you want to make it more challenging, use silly putty instead of play dough.
- Child uses tongs to grab pompoms and places each one in an opening in an ice cube tray.
- Child and parent form small balls out of play dough. Child uses a fondue fork to pierce the balls and move them into a dish.
- Parent breaks crayons into small pieces. Child uses these smaller pieces to color, which encourages the child to use a much better grasp.
- Parent takes a sheet of lined paper and traces every other line with lines of white glue and allows the glue to dry so that it creates raised lines. Child writes on the lined paper with a pencil. The hardened glue lines indicate where the child must stop when forming letters to work on appropriate sizing.
- Parent places a piece of regular paper over different textured surfaces (e.g. needlepoint canvas, sand paper, crinkly aluminum foil). Child writes on the paper and feels the different textured surfaces.
- Child uses different types of hole punches to make decorative paper.
- Child uses alternative writing tools to write in different materials. This can include writing in sand/dirt with a twig, writing with a cotton swab in shaving cream, or writing with a finger in frosting.
- Child and parent play a game of Connect Four together.
- Parent combines pieces from two to three different, similar-shaped puzzles. Child must visually scan all the pieces to sort the pieces and complete each puzzle.
- Parent creates a matching game by printing the child’s favorite items or characters (two of each item). Parent lays out all the picture cards face-up and the child visually scans to make matches. To make this more challenging, print pictures that are similar (e.g. Minnie Mouse pictures with similar bows, cats with different color fur).
- Child braids or knots several pieces of string/yarn to make friendship bracelets.
- Parent cuts a kitchen sponge into 1″ squares and pours paint into a plate. Child holds the small piece of sponge to paint on paper.
- Parent creates sewing cards by printing the child’s favorite photographs or characters on to card stock and punching holes around the perimeter of the item in the picture. Child uses shoe laces to sew.
- Child sorts cereal pieces (e.g. Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops) or candy (e.g. M & M’s, Reese’s Pieces) into separate cups.
- Child is given a bucket of water and a large paint brush. Child uses the water to ‘paint’ on the driveway or sidewalk.
- Parent and child play dress up together. Child can practice closing fasteners, such as buttons, snaps, and ties.
- Parent and child garden together. Child is given the opportunity to dig holes and place seeds in each hole.
- Parent instructs child to press small buttons on household appliances, such as the microwave, washer/dryer, telephone, or TV remote.
- Parent and child collect different flat items from outside (e.g. pieces of bark, leaves, flat stones). Child uses the side of a crayon to make rubbings on paper.
- Child chooses different objects from around the house and traces the outline of the objects on paper.
- Parent purchases several wind-up toys. Child practices winding each toy and watching them go.
What fun ideas do you have for fine motor activities?