52 Fine Motor Development Skills and Activities for Kids
Why are fine motor skills are so important when it come to a child’s development?
When a pre k child or young child engages in an activity which encourages the use of their fine motor abilities, they are utilizing their brain, hands, and eyes to develop hand-eye coordination to help them manipulate objects.
This is very important for learning self-help skills, becoming ready for many academic tasks in the future, as well as becoming proficient in writing skills.
It is a good idea to provide a variety of fine motor skills and fine motor activities for children to practice.
Some motor activities may require more effort on the part of some pre k children, where other fine motor activities can be mastered with only minimal effort, but they are all important in the growth and development of young children during their early years.
Below are 52 fine motor activities to keep you going for the entire year, plus 6 bonus activities to mix things up when you need it.
These activities are a combination of art materials, manipulative toys, and more to give the preschoolers and young children a variety of fine motor activities at various difficulty levels.
You can use these fine motor activities however you like with the pre k children in your care.
We recommend providing one fine motor skills activity per week so preschoolers & toddlers have time to master that skill.
Some pre k children and toddlers may need longer, some children may need less time. It is important to make sure each child gets the time they need to practice before moving onto the next activity.
If you feel some preschoolers or young children are ready to move on but some need a bit more time, you can have both fine motor skills activities out at the same time.
52 Fine Motor Activities for the Classroom (plus 6 bonus activities)
- Molding and rolling play dough into large round balls using the palms of hands.
- Using large tweezers to pick up various sized objects (pom poms, cotton balls, etc.)
- Providing finger puppets for playing games or action songs.
- Placing a hole punch on the art shelf with construction paper.
- Using chop-sticks to pick up small objects. (The children don’t have to master the proper use of the chopsticks but the practice is great for fine motor development.)
- Create a make-shift clothes line and have the children use clothes pegs to hang up dolls clothing and blankets.
- Cutting a variety of paper using child safe scissors. (Calendars, card stock, construction paper, magazines paper, etc.)
- Stretching rubber bands around different sized bottles and containers.
- Put objects in a bowl and have the children move the objects to another bowl using a spoon.
- Stringing beads on shoelaces, string, or pipe cleaners.
- Using different sized chalk on chalk boards or construction paper.
- Ripping up news paper into pieces. Crumple up the pieces into balls.
- Using stickers or self sticking shapes in the art center to make art work.
- Providing paper maze activities for the children to follow with crayons, markers, or chalk.
- Making a structure using tooth picks and large and small marshmallows.
- Mixing colored water to create new colors by using an eye dropper to move the water from one container to another.
- Using Popsicle sticks, pegs, and/or toothpicks while playing with play dough.
- Place hair gel and glitter in a seal-able baggie. Tape the top closed for extra reinforcement. Place that baggie into another seal-able baggie (squish the air out) and reinforce that baggie with tape. Allow the children to squish and manipulate the baggie to move the gel and sparkles around.
- Do the same type of activity as #18 only this time use oil, colored water, and small beads.
- Put a bunch of staples into card board and have the children remove the staples using a staple remover.
- Cut or die-press the shapes of letters out of thick sand paper and have the children trace around the letters using small pencils or pencil crayons.
- During small group time play a variety of clapping games/finger plays. (You can find a variety of these kids finger plays on this web site, you can also go to the home page and click on the yellow Pre K Songs graphic for even more.)
- Providing a substance like sticky tack or putty and encouraging the children to pull small pieces using their fingers and thumb.
- Ripping small little sections into the edges of construction paper to create a fringe.
- Using child safe scissors to cut play dough.
- Have the children use their finger tips to make creations in goop, paint, sand, or shaving cream.
- Glue different sized buttons onto some card board and have children wrap string around the buttons.
- Draw different lines (straight, curved, wavy, etc.) on a large piece of paper and provide small toy cars for the children follow on the lines with.
- Provide purses and small pouches with zippers and pockets. Put small items in each compartment and allow the children to move the objects around the different pouches and zip and unzip the pockets.
- Find some pictures of people and animals. Cut them out and place magnets on the back. (You can find magnet sheets at the dollar store with self adhesive backing which can be cut easily with scissors.) Place the pictures into a large coffee can with a plastic lid. Have the children take the lid off, reach in and pull out each picture placing it on the outside of the can.
- On a large piece of paper draw large shapes and a variety of styles of lines. Provide small toy cars and encourage the children to drive the cars around following the lines.
- Encourage the children to make floral arrangements by providing artificial flowers, green floral foam, and plastic flower boxes or vases.
- Provide dolls with hair and encourage the children to brush the dolls hair and decorate with clips, barrettes, bobby-pins, hair elastics, etc.
- Provide metal or plastic nuts and bolts and have the children screw them together.
- Practice putting paper clips on and off one or two pieces of paper.
- Provide pencil sharpeners, pencils, and pencil crayons and have the children practice sharpening them.
- Crumple up pieces of paper of different sizes into tiny tight balls and practice flicking them with their fingers and thumb.
- Provide small kids shoes, jackets, pants etc. with a variety of snaps and fasteners. Have the children practice doing up and undoing the snaps, fasteners, zippers, etc. (This is a great activity to get ready for winter dressing.)
- Provide table top games which encourage the children to use their fingers and hands such as Operation, Hungry Hippos, Buckaroo, Lite Brite, Bed Bugs, Connect Four, etc.
- Provide some keys and locks. Have the children practice putting the keys into the locks and turning the key to find out which key will work unlock which lock.
- Draw a variety of styles of lines on a piece of paper. Photocopy the paper so you have enough for the class or to put on the art shelf and encourage the children to cut with child safe scissors following the drawn lines.
- Provide table top toys such as, Etch-a-Sketch, Magic Slate, and/or Magna Doodle to provide a different kind of drawing experience with different tools and different erase features to figure out and do using their fingers.
- Practice rolling play dough into pea sized balls using their fingers instead of the palms of their hands.
- Provide small screw drivers, screws, and wood (construction toys can be used if you don’t feel safe using real tools) and have the children screw the screws into the wood.
- Trace around different objects including blocks, feet, hands, bottles, jars, etc.
- Use a turkey baster to pick up and drop light objects such as cotton balls, small Styrofoam balls, etc.
- Encourage the children to flatten out a piece of play dough into a disc shake. Have them use a plastic knife or plastic pizza wheel to experiment with different ways to hold an object and cut the play dough.
- Provide child sized squirt bottles to spray indoor/outdoor plants. Fill the bottles with colored water in the winter and have the children spray the snow.
- Have the children rip of tiny pieces of tissue paper and roll then into tiny balls. Once they done a substantial amount of these, have the children pick them up and place them into a basket. Place the basket on the art shelf where the children can use these to make art work creations.
- Play throw and catch games outside with different sizes of balls. Start with larger balls and move up to smaller balls.
- Play a clapping game. Clap really loud and then really soft. You can make up your own clapping games or clap along to different styles of music.
- Provide different styles of puzzles. These could include puzzles with small pieces, large pieces, wooden puzzles, puzzles with pegs, maze puzzles, puzzles with hinged doors, etc.
6 Bonus Fine Motor Skills Activities
- Blow bubbles outside and have the children catch and pop them in different ways. (Clapping, pinching, grabbing, etc.)
- Have the children try to do the crab walk, or if they are older, partner up and do the wheelbarrow walk.
- Use child safe scissors to cut different materials such as straws, shredded paper, fabric, etc.
- Collect different sizes of jars with screw top lids. Have the children screw the lids on and unscrew them finding out which lid fits on which jar.
- Fill some empty water bottles of various sizes part way with different materials such as popcorn kernels, dry beans, beads, small pebbles, sand, water, etc. Place a towel on the table and have the children shake the bottles and bang them on the towel to listen to different sounds.
- Provide a variety of books in the library which have different styles of pages to turn. You can add board books, regular paper backs, books bound with spiral binding, picture books, binders, etc.
Any of the fine motor activities above can be modified to fit the age and developmental stage of the pre k children and toddlers in your classroom. The most important thing is to have fun and don’t worry if they don’t get some of the motor skills activities the first time.
Make note of what needs to be worked on and put them back into the rotation for a second time. Make this learning experience as stress free and as fun as possible.