Exposing your child to a wide range of fine motor activities can increase their skills and confidence. But for preschoolers who aren’t motivated to do typical fine motor skill builders (like art, lacing, beading, writing) finding fun activities can be a challenge.
What are fine motor skills?
These are the skills that involve the use of the small muscles of the wrist, hands and fingers, as well as hand-eye coordination.
Fine motor skills develop along a continuum from infancy onward.
From the very first time a baby puts their fingers in their mouth, to a kindergartner cutting a construction paper snowflake, fine motor skills are involved and continuing to develop.
Once your infant and toddler has mastered early fine motor skills, your preschooler typically continues to develop these skills through natural play.
However, most fine motor skill activities offered to preschoolers are things like arts and crafts, beading and lacing. But what if your child shows no interest in these activities?
Below are non-art based fine motor activity ideas that might appeal to your preschooler.
Things you might already have at home:
- Large nuts and bolts. You could build something but for most preschoolers it would be fun if you just dumped a bunch of them in a box to figure out which go together. If you don’t have these at home, you can get them at any hardware store. Make sure your child is at least four years old if providing them with smaller nuts and bolts (to avoid a choking hazard).
- Colored eggs. It doesn’t have to be Easter to make dyed eggs. Variation on a traditional Easter egg is to use eye droppers to drip different colors onto the hard boiled egg shell. Using the eyedropper is the part that is a fine motor skill. (this idea from https://www.messforless.net/liquid-watercolor-decorated-eggs/ )
- Berry ice cubes. Put berries in a bowl. Using a tweezers, place one berry in each section of an ice cube tray. Fill a plastic measuring cup with water and slowly pour water into each ice cube section. Freeze for a treat in your beverage!
- “Cleaning.” Fill a small spray bottle with water. Give your child a sponge and spray bottle. They can “wash” the house! Cleaning isn’t the motivator, but using a spray bottle is really fun (and a great way to build finger strength).
- Help with meal prep. Stirring uses fine motor skills. Cutting softer foods with a plastic knife (for preschool age children) does too: for example: soft cheeses, crusts off sandwich bread, cookie dough. Also, setting the table.
- Build a family rubber band ball. Keep a big bowl filled with tons of rubber bands somewhere central in the house. Start by wadding about 10 rubber bands together. Start wrapping rubber bands around this center. You’ll need to create a few layers before turning it over to younger children but once it’s going you can see how big a ball your family can make!
- Gingerbread house building. You can use graham crackers if you don’t have a kit for this. Fine motor skills are needed for all the decorations like attaching gumdrops, mints, small hard candies, chocolate chips, etc.
- Find the penny game. Hide pennies around the house. Everyone gets a piggy bank. Collect the pennies and put them in the piggy bank slot! [variation: if you already have a jar filled with mixed coins, your preschooler can help sort them. Older children can practice fine motor skills and money denomination recognition by rolling coins. You can get coin wrappers at your bank.]
- Marshmallow/toothpick buildings. Just google search on “marshmallow toothpick” and you’ll see tons of suggestions!
- Old fashioned clothespins and hanging socks. Set up a clothesline and have your child help hang socks (or washcloths, or napkins, etc.) with clothespins.
Things you can purchase:
Note: some of the links below take you to Amazon.com Parent Trust is an Amazon.com Associate. If you follow these links, anything you buy from amazon.com will earn a referral fee for Parent Trust.