Fun ways to help develop fine motor skills

Fine motor skills are important for little ones to develop during the early years. Learn why and what you can do to help your child with these skills.

What are fine motor skills?

Fine motor skills involve the use of the small muscles that control the hand, fingers and thumb. They require a degree of control and precision and play an important part in a child’s development during the early years. 

Why are these skills important?

During the early years, young children use these skills to do things like holding small items, grasping toys, feeding themselves, buttoning and zipping clothes and more. As they grow these muscles are important during schooling and continue to help with writing, drawing and lots more. 

So what can we do to help?

We can help children develop these skills simply by giving them lots of opportunity to play and explore!

Below we’ve listed some of our favourite play ideas that you can do with your child to help encourage the development of fine motor skills.  

  • Playdough
    Embrace the mess of playdough! Manipulating and shaping dough strengthens little hands. 
  • Blocks
    Playing with blocks is a great way to encourage toddlers to develop not just their fine motor skills, but their thinking skills as well.  
  • Puzzles
    Manipulating puzzle pieces and stabilizing the puzzle board helps little ones develop their fine motor skills.  
  • Finger puppets
    Finger puppets help children develop dexterity (moving fingers separately and with control) and through these actions they learn to control which finger they need to wriggle to make the puppets move. 
  • Dressing dolls / doll play
    Dressing skills like managing buttons and zips are often easier when children can practice on their dolls 
  • Painting
    Not only does painting allow kids to get creative (and be able to display their masterpieces for everyone to see!) but they’re also refining their hand grasping skills when using a paintbrush.  
  • Mark Making
    Little ones love to explore their world and make their mark in lots of playful ways! As coordination increases they will begin to create more precise work and have more fun with it. 
  • Making books
    Put that junk mail to use – tearing or cutting out pictures helps to develop fine motor skills and rubbing glue on the back of a picture helps develop finger coordination.  
  • Making Music
    Repeating finger actions when singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” hones fine motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination.  
  • Box Construction
    Boxes provide unlimited options for play ideas! Manipulating small boxes, drawing or glueing items on or sticking boxes together is great for developing fine motor skills.  

Remember, it’s always good to keep the activities fun and change them up so that your child stays interested. The more they play – the more they will learn and develop these amazing new skills!