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10 Simple Activities to Build Fine Motor Skills

Preschooler building their fine motor skills by playing with blocks

When we think about fitness skills, we often think about big body movement activities like walking, crawling, running, jumping, hopping, skipping, and other large motor development skills. An equally important fitness skill is the development of fine motor skills.

What are Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills are the small movements involving hands and fingers. Movements such as grasping and pinching are foundational skills for everyday tasks such as zipping a coat, grasping a crayon, cutting with scissors, using utensils, and so much more.

Preschool children practicing drawing and their fine motor skills

Building Fine Motor Skills

Research tells us that fine motor skills should be practiced every day. The daycare teachers at New Horizon Academy incorporate the development of fine motor skills into daily classroom lesson plans, as they understand the importance of the development of fine motor skills. We asked them to share simple activities you can do at home to build the fine motor skills of your toddler and preschooler. Here are a few activities that our toddler and preschooler teachers recommended:

Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

1. Draw, Color, or Write

Provide crayons, markers, pencils, and chalk for your toddler and preschooler and encourage them to get creative. The simple act of drawing, coloring, or writing (even scribbling) helps develop fine motor skills.

2. Play with Play Dough

Encourage your toddler and preschooler to roll, squeeze, pinch, pat, pound, and use rolling pins, cookie cutters, and other utensils as they play with play dough. Play dough is a powerful tool that aids in the development of fine motor skills. Go the extra mile, and make your own play dough using our 5 Squishy Recipes Your Child Will Love.

3. Finger Paint

Finger painting looks easy, but it is a wonderful way to help build both fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination. So, give your child paper and finger paint and watch them grow and develop.

Child practicing their fine motor skills by finger painting

4. Build with Blocks

Every child loves building with blocks, so provide your child with time to play with blocks. Stacking and building blocks provides fine motor development opportunities for your toddler and preschooler—not to mention, the development of imagination and scientific skills. There are so many benefits from building with blocks.

5. Play with Legos and Duplos

Legos and Duplos support the development of fine motor skills, early math skills, perseverance, problem-solving, color and shape knowledge, hand and eye coordination, and creative thinking, and they promotes the development of attention skills. Pull out a basket of Legos or Duplos and watch the learning happen.

Child playing with legos for fine motor activity

6. Plan String Activities

Use dry noodles, Cheerios, or beads and loop them onto yarn or string. Your child can make a noodle necklace for a family member or a backyard bird feeder. Use our Backyard Cereal Bird Feeder instructions to create a fun bird feeder that helps build fine motor skills.

7. Play with Containers

Encourage your toddler or preschooler to open and close empty containers with lids. This is a great activity to do while you are cooking. Your child can join you in the kitchen, and while you cook, your child can develop their fine motor skills.

8. Practice with Buttons and Zippers

Provide your toddler and preschooler with an opportunity to practice with buttons and zippers. While this may require extra patience on your part, by offering your child time to practice with buttons and zippers, you are helping your toddler and preschooler to enhance their fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and their self-help skills.

Child practicing with zippers for fine motor activity

9. Peel and Place Stickers

Give your child stickers and have them peel the sticker from the sticker sheet and place on paper. The act of peeling a sticker and placing it onto paper develops the pincer grasp. This skill is critical for buttoning clothes, and it helps with eye-hand coordination, too.

10. Play with Tongs, Clothespins, or Chopsticks

Use tongs, clothespins, or chopsticks to pick up and sort materials like cotton balls or pom-poms.

Child practicing fine motor skills by picking up toys with play tongs

Implementing these activities using materials around your home will help your child develop their fine motor skills and build a solid foundation for critical lifelong skills.

New Horizon Academy is a nationally recognized early learning provider with over 90 schools in Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, and Kansas. Through play-based curriculum and high-quality daycare, New Horizon Academy schools nurture and prepare children to succeed in school and life.

Schedule a tour to learn more about our highly trained teachers, safe and secure facilities, and commitment to providing the highest quality care. Contact a New Horizon Academy childcare center near you today.

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