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Fine Motor Skills

Definition: Small movements of the hands that allow us to manipulate materials like pencils, clothing buttons, and containers. 

What fine motor skills do these activities help the child to develop?

  • Pencil grasp
  • Strengthen pinch and grip
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Precision of their fingers – e.g., isolating fingers
  • Builds the foundation for other activities that they enjoy  
  • Coordination of both hands

Fine motor activities to complete for toddler/ preschool (1-4 years old)

  • Use spoons to transfer small objects from one dish to another
  • Use sidewalk chalk to draw on the playground and on walls
  • Tear up recycled paper to make confetti
  • Create a water bin – spray bottle, plastic cups, small sponges
  • Stringing together beads / macaroni
  • Build a tower of 10 blocks
  • Making snips on cardboard paper or stiffer paper
  • Tracing sand with a stick

Fine motor activities to complete for school age (5+ years old)

  • Paint picture using Q-Tips or fingerpaint
  • Make a lacing card with cardboard and with a hole punch
  • Cutting different shapes, lines
  • Complete puzzles
  • Drawing and colouring using broken crayons
  • Spreading margarine with a knife
  • Self-care skills – tie own shoelace, button shirt, zippers and snaps, opening and closing containers
  • Scrunch up newspaper and toss them in the bin 
  • Create a water bin – include syringes, eye droppers, buckets

What to look for

  • Include these fine motor skills during day to day activities – play, transition between activities
  • Incorporate a variety of materials for the children to use e.g., paper clips, tweezers, stencil tracing, pom poms, clothespins so that it is more fun for them!
  • Use different sizes for the children for example small, medium and large beads 
  • Work on different surfaces to support the development of pencil grasp e.g., chalkboard, slanted surface (use a 3 inch binder)

Links to developmental milestones and implications

Written by: Stephanie Wong (Student Occupational Therapist)


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