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Playful Activities for Fine Motor Skill Development

Sep 30, 2021    |   Movement & Motor Skills

The skills that children develop during early childhood set the foundation for lifelong skill development. One skill set that is important to develop early is fine motor development, which allows children to use small muscles in their hands and fingers to accomplish tasks like writing with a pencil, cutting with scissors, fastening buttons, feeding themselves with utensils, and more. In this article, you’ll find ideas and activities that support fine motor skill development that can be easily incorporated into your classroom’s curriculum, with materials that you likely already have on hand.

More About Fine Motor Skills

If you are interested in learning more about fine motor skills, and how they develop throughout early childhood, you might enjoy this article from the G2K archives: Supporting Fine Motor Skill Development (also available in Spanish here). This article offers a detailed description of specific fine motor skills and explains the fine motor developmental milestones to observe from infancy through pre-k.

Playful Learning & Skill-Building

Children learn through play. So, as we consider how to incorporate fine motor skill practice into our curriculum, it is best to think of ways that children can practice these skills in fun, engaging activities. Consider activities the children in your care already enjoy, and think about how you might build in elements like scissor use or small object manipulation that will strengthen small muscles. Here are a few quick and easy ideas…

  • If the children in your care especially enjoy dramatic play, you might consider incorporating a few clothing items or accessories with buttons, zippers, or other small fasteners that encourage children to use small muscles to put on and take off clothing as they dress up in different outfits.

  • If your group enjoys play-dough, you can add tools such as child-friendly (and not too sharp) plastic knives or scissors so children have an opportunity to practice holding and working with smaller utensils.

  • Finally, if you work with children that enjoy art projects, think about incorporating stickers that require children to peel and stick with small muscles in their fingers and hands. Another idea is to provide large sheets of paper that require children to tear and cut them into small pieces. For projects using paint, offer q-tips instead of paintbrushes to encourage children to practice gripping and working with a smaller grip.

Specific Activities for Curriculum-Planning

image & activity from Hello Wonderful


Kitchen Whisk & Pom-Poms: This activity incorporates fine motor skill-building as well as a fun sensory experience. Using a simple kitchen whisk, children can practice removing pom-poms using their hands and fingers. This activity is especially great for infants and toddlers who enjoy exploring different textures. If you do not have pom-poms available, the activity can also be done with other soft items such as ribbons, yarn, or small pieces of fabric. 

Click here to find more details about setting up this activity. 

images & activity from Just Reed

Practicing Fine Motor Skills with Straws: Basic plastic straws provide several opportunities for practicing fine motor skills. For example, straw pieces can be thread onto string or yarn to make necklaces. Encourage children to cut their own straw pieces for added hand-strengthening as they use small muscles to hold scissors and to cut the straw into small pieces. Providing uncooked pasta that can be thread over the straw pieces allows children to practice precision. 

Click here to find more details about setting up this activity, along with more fun ideas for practicing fine motor skills. 

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