In this article you will discover 16 fun and simple activities that encourage fine motor development at home.The activities are easy to set up and require materials that you usually use around the house.
Why Are Motor Skills Important?
Motor skills are important because they provide a strong basis for social and cognitive behaviour. Environments with sufficient stimuli and learning opportunities can have a positive effect on motor development and movement or manipulation tasks.
In other words, offering toys, books, enough space, events, and stimulation from family can all help not only in a child’s cognitive development but also with his motor skills development.
A study conducted on 286 infants and toddlers in Iran analyzed the impact of: inside space, outside space, variation of stimulation, fine motor skills toys, and gross motor skills toys and how these influenced a child’s motor skills development.
It showed that a rich environment (kindergarten and home) helped improve gross motor skills!
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Activities that Make Fine Motor Fun
1. Break spaghetti into pieces
While you cook, bring your little one in the kitchen with me. Give him/her some spaghetti and see what he/she wants to do with them. Once they start braking them, observe their reaction.
They might enjoy the sound, the fact that the pieces fly around, that they can’t tell which way they are flying. This activity exercises fine motor skills in a fun and simple way. Give it a go as part of the activities that combine fun and engagement.
2.Rip kitchen paper towel/toilet paper/paper
Try to attach a kitchen paper towel to your child’s high-chair using the seat belts. We sat on the floor in front of the paper roll and started pulling it.
We had to pull really hard sometimes when it got stuck, but some other times we simply ripped small pieces of paper from it.
Once you get enough paper on the floor, throw them in the air to make it rain. Invite your children to do the same. All of the pulling and ripping and throwing in the air will exercise your little one’s fine motor skills.
3.Stick magnets on the fridge/on magnetic board
Do you play with fridge magnets with your children? If you do, you might like our magnet sensory activity. To make this a teaching activity, try using magnetic letters and a metal surface. Model for your little one by grabbing hold of the letters and sticking them on another surface.
He/she can also learn the letters if you choose to name them, but he also practice fine and gross motor skills.
Of course, you can do this with any other magnetic toy or fridge magnet. The idea is to find something small enough his/her little hands can manipulate and make motor fun.
If you have cardboard boxes that you intend to recycle, try some cardboard box crafts first. The quicker and simplest cardboard craft is however darts.
Cut out a circle, draw some animals on it, and hang it somewhere on the wall.
Make some small balls out of paper and play darts together. I played with my 3-year-old and basically tried to aim for the animals. Not a lot of luck at first, but practice makes better! And makes motor development fun!
Try to draw the animals closer together, so that your little one has more chances of aiming something.
5.Do the dishes
Children love water, mostly spilling it! So, while you’re in the kitchen, give your child something to do to keep hm busy. Like doing the dishes!
Not the actual dishes, no! Give him a sponge and some plastic containers and let him splash in the water.
I leave the water running, and he mostly rubs the sink clean and fills his little containers. This activity will help your little ones develop fine motor skills by using the sponge, but it is also a sensory activity which makes it even more enjoyable.
DISCOVER GREAT GROSS MOTOR SKILLS ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
Children love to try new things. Especially challenging things. And busy boards are among the best fine motor skills activities for little children.
Below you can find an example of a great busy board my friend made for her toddler. It was amazing!
It had a light switch, a spinner, a calculator, wheels, so many things that can exercise your child’s fine motor skills. And it is so much fun, it never gets boring!
Because there are so many combinations you can use on a busy board! And you can always add more! Or change some that the child doesn’t like!
7.Objects in a jar
Putting objects in a jar or a bottle, exercises fine motor skills such as picking, grabbing, squeezing, depending on what type of objects the child manipulates. And it also improves hand-eye coordination.
Not to mention that it is a sensory experience as well.
You can use pom-poms, small toys he needs to grab with the kitchen tongs, soft toys he/she needs to push inside the bottler/jar, beans he/she needs to pick up one by one, laminated pictures stuck with velcro, so many possibilities.
8. Make a tower
Using wooden blocks to build something is one of the fun fine motor skills activities for little learners. It involves the wrists, the hands, and the fingers, so it works many muscles.
You can build a high tower and watch it collapse, build by imitation, or simply stack the blocks.
Any of these activities will involve fine motor skills. You could also line them up to create a long trail of blocks from one room to another.
This activity will also exercise gross motor skills, apart from fine motor skills.
I love tracing, but not with a pencil. I avoided using a pencil for tracing because children under 3 don’t really have the ability to trace using a pencil. but you could use fun activities to build on that skill.
Try using shaving foam, spread it on the table, and make a shape. Ask your child to trace your shape.
Tracing can also be done in the garden with a stick/finger. Place a heavy object on the ground, remove it and play with the trace it left in the dirt.
Why not trace using finger paint on a plate? You create a shape and your child gets to make it more fun by tracing it with paint.
10.Get the lid in the bottle
This is a gross, as well as a fine motor skill game. My friend tried it with her son: cut a plastic bottle in half. Make a hole at the bottom of the bottle and one in the lid.
Using a string, connect these two. Give your child the bottle and tell him to shake it so that the lid gets inside the bottle.
You can see exactly how in the video above. First, demonstrate so that your child knows exactly what to do. Then, ask him/her to hold the bottle tightly placing both hands on the sides of the bottle.
And now simply throw and shake it so that you get the lid inside the bottle.
Gentle moves work best!
11.Fish for letters/toys
Children love splashing so I thought of fishing activities for toddlers. When my toddler gets bored or when I need an engaging activity, I fill the bathtub and throw some toys inside( not necessarily bathing toys).
I make sure there is enough water in the tub so that he doesn’t have to lean over to get the toys. He tries to grab the toys, puts them in a toy shopping basket, and then throws them back in.
I used this with foam letters and numbers so that he can also learn while playing the game.
Get your day organised and stress-free with a Visual Schedule for Toddlers.
I found a lovely ukulele in a charity shop when my son was about 1. He loved the idea of touching the strings, but also the sounds he could make. Try any other musical instrument to practice fine motor skills, anything that involves using fingers and lips exercises fine motor skills. You can use: flute, drums, xylophone, or any other percussion instrument.
This is a great fine motor skills activity, as well as a sensory one. And little ones will love the sounds they make!
13.Chop and cook
Buying cooking toys is a great idea because they grow with the child and his/her abilities. At first, little ones can simply touch them, grab them, put them in and take them out of the basket.
Later, when the child is older you can use them in various games to learn the names of the food (English is not our first language so I use any opportunity I have to teach him English), or in pretend games.
When the child is able to manipulate the toy knife well enough, you can start chopping the food, mixing it according to a recipe, and serving everyone a bowl of delicious homemade wooden food!
While teaching small children I used a lot of hand and finger puppets. They help connect easily with the child, make learning more fun, build a relationship and so it seemed only normal to use them with my son too.
You can give your finger puppets names, use them to start a short conversation. Or goof around.
It is a wonderful idea to build fine motor skills because the child needs to put it on and take it off, and also move his finger while using it, hold each finger up, so there is a lot of muscle exercise there.
15.Look for bugs
While out and about, bring a magnifying glass along. Stop from time to time. Use your magnifier and torch and try to discover the hidden underworld.
Children might use their fingers to dig in the dirt looking for ants, use a stick to search through holes, scratch the tree bark hoping to find a spider. I personally DO NOT like bugs, but what can you do?
No Bug is too big, no Fright is too small! (as Ryder might say) But all this digging is great for motor development.
17.Wipe the furniture
When you clean the house, give your little one something to do. Give him/her some wet tissues while you start dusting. Kids will imitate grown ups, so your child might start wiping along. My 3-year-old wipes everything: the sofa, the windows, the wall, absolutely everything.
Talk about finger and wrist muscle work. And the end result is a sparkling house! Way to go!
These activities give you the possibility to combine muscle development activities with learning.
For more learning activities, make sure to read these articles as well:
I am very grateful to my mom friends who offered some ideas for activities for little ones and allowed me to use their pictures.
We are very eager to hear what activities you tried with your children so we can add them to the list above and help parents further.
We Share All Of Our Ideas On Our Facebook Group Learning Activities For Kids.
Hi. I am Monica, an experienced ESL teacher and early years student, mother to a preschooler and passionate reader.