10 Fine Motor Control Activities For Kids

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I will never forget the first time I watched Arlo trying to lift a few Rice Krispies into his mouth from his high chair table. He was struggling to grasp them and getting frustrated in the process. I realised that while we had focused on traditional learning skills, such as nursery rhymes, counting songs and encouraging him to walk, we hadn’t taken much time to specifically work on those fine motor control skills. There is often a belief that these skills will just develop over time, and that is true, but there are still so many things we can do to make the journey easier for our little ones.

Fine motor control is an important skill for kids because it allows them to do complete everyday activities like eating, writing, drawing, and using scissors. Luckily, you don’t have to go far for activities that help build fine motor skills – there are plenty of fun and easy options right in your home!

Why is fine motor control important?

For most of us, fine motor control is something we take for granted; we never really stop to consider the importance of it, but it’s actually an essential part of everyday life that impacts our ability to do simple tasks such as threading a needle or writing. In preschool or nursery, children will need these skills for picking up toys, flipping through books or mark making.

Having good fine motor control involves coordination between small muscles in the hands, wrists and fingers. This skill allows us to complete tasks that require dexterity, like buttoning up a shirt or picking up small objects. It also helps with more complicated activities such as learning how to play an instrument or typing quickly on a keyboard. Without this important skill, it would be difficult to carry out many real-world activities. This is why you’ll see educational professionals refer to it so often – without good fine motor control, everything else a child does is impacted.

So, without further ado, here are 10 amazing fine motor activities to help support fine motor development at home!

1) Transfer Activities

A great place to start with developing fine motor skills is simple transfer activities. The idea is to use the pincer grip (using your first finger and thumb to grab objects) to move small items, such as beads, buttons, chickpeas or pom poms, from one container to another.

This activity is great because it is so easy to set up and can be done with whatever you have around the home. If your baby is too young to use small objects like beads, a great alternative would be cereal such as cheerios. This means it’s great for little hands and there is no danger if your child puts some of the objects in their mouth.

2) Threading Activities

Threading activities are a great way to keep kids entertained and help them develop their fine motor skills. Not only are they fun, but threading activities also teach children about math concepts like sorting, counting, geometry and pattern recognition.

One popular activity is lacing cards – these are basically cards with different shapes (such as animals or letters) that have holes around the edges where strings can be threaded through.

Another idea is using beads – this activity helps kids practice hand-eye coordination as they move their hands in coordination while manipulating the beads on a string. You could even create patterns by mixing up different coloured beads for an extra challenge!

For younger children, you could place a single piece of dry spaghetti on a table using a piece of playdough to make it stand up. Then, give your child cheerios to place onto the spaghetti. This is a really complex skill for young children as they have to get the hole in just the right place.

3) Using various tools for play

Tools like tweezers and tongs can be used to practice picking up small objects and placing them in the correct spot. They also help develop hand-eye coordination while strengthening the muscles in your hands and fingers. You could use them for the transfer activities mentioned previously, or you could add them in to different activities such as playdough play.

This collection of tools is perfect for every fine motor activity. They are plastic, so great for any play involving water, too. We have used them time and time again, both in my home and school setting.

 
 
 
 

Another tool that gets used most days is a pair of wooden tongs. The action of squeezing them together is great for building muscles!

 

4) Cutting activities

Arlo loves to use a pair of scissors and they are perfect for fine motor control development. The easiest way to do this is draw a line across a piece of paper and ask your child to follow it, this works on their scissor skills, too.

If your child struggles to hold scissors correctly, I would highly recommend grabbing a pair of these scissors. I purchased a pair for Arlo some time ago and they were a great first introduction to scissor work!

As your child progresses, you can introduce some zig zag or curved lines to make the activity more challenging. Alternatively, if you are a Little Learning Hub member, you will find some ready made cutting cards in your member’s area.

5) Building with blocks

This one is great because it develops hand eye coordination, too. Toddlers and preschoolers often love nothing more than to build a block tower just so they can smash it down again and why not? It is great fun! You could introduce something like large kitchen tongs to build hand strength and make the game a bit more fun, too!

6) Egg carton colour slot

When Arlo was younger, he absolutely loved this activity, but the best part is – it costs absolutely nothing to make! All you need to do is cut some slots into an egg carton and colour each segment using different felt tip pens or paints. Then, give your child some cotton buds or lollipop sticks of matching colours and get them to slot the correct colour into the egg carton.

This is great because your child is working on colour recognition skills, while also working hard on fine motor control to get those small sticks or cotton buds into small holes in the egg box.

An alternative version of this would be to use one of these season shakers and post small wooden sticks or cotton buds through the holes.

7) Stickers galore

What child doesn’t love stickers? Peeling off stickers is a great way to work on pincer grip and is a great fine motor activity, too. One simple activity is to draw a shape outline onto a piece of paper and use stickers to follow the outline. This will also create some beautiful art work!

The best resource for this activity is to simply grab a set of plain coloured stickers. These are much better for children as they aren’t unusual shapes and have gaps around the circles, so they are much easier to peel. I would highly recommend them! Because they come in different colours, you can also use them to decorate any outline you choose. For example, a heart with red stickers for Valentine’s day, a brown rabbit for Easter, green Christmas tree and so on.

8) Using a pencil for mark making

The most simple way to work on fine motor control is encouraging mark making. This could be using a pencil, crayons or paint brush. It doesn’t matter what they draw, but holding the pencil in their hands will help to strengthen those hand muscles.

If your child is reluctant to mark make, you can help by taking your activity outside and using a stick to mark make in the mud. Alternatively, use icing to mark make on biscuits and cakes which your little ones are sure to love!

One of the first ways I got Arlo to mark make, as he was always a little reluctant, was through the use of water pads. Kids love to see the water appearing on the mat! They can also be used again and again which was great for us and made them great value for money.

9) Get involved in household chores

There are so many ways to build fine motor skills around the home while developing those crucial life skills. This could be squeezing a cloth or sponge dry after their bath, using tongs to pick up food or helping to hang the washing out by pinching pegs. Kids will learn a whole host of skills while helping around the house and it makes them feel like part of the family, too!

Not just that, but household chores can make excellent sensory play, so a simple activity like washing up, can be both great for fine motor control and a great way to introduce a sensory component to your child’s day. Kids love to join in with adults and learn the most effectively when they are having fun!

 
 

10) Play dough

Play dough is always a hit in our house. It is simple to set up, there are so many ways to play and it’s the perfect easy fine motor activity! You could give your child simple tasks to complete, for example building a playdough pizza or create a new flower. These help with children’s coordination skills, all while your little monster has the time of their life!

If you are a Little Learning Hub member, there are plenty of playdough activity cards to choose from inside your members area.

So, there you have it! 10 fine motor skills activities that you can use with your children! By supporting their fine motor journey, you are giving them a great start to all the other skills they will face as they grow. Don’t forget, kids learn best when they are having fun, so take the time to choose a practical and fun activity for your little ones!

Have a fine motor control question? Reach out on Instagram (@LittleLearningHub) or send an email to contactus@thelittlelearninghub.com.

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