Fine Motor Play Activities

You’ll sometimes hear us talking about fine motor and gross motor skills. What does that mean? Fine motor skills are those little movements that allow us to do more detailed physical tasks, such as picking up a small object with our fingers. Gross motor skills are those big movements that allow us to do motions with our entire leg, arm, or torso, such as walking or kicking a ball. In preschool, children are often developing both kinds of skills, and as is the case with many things, children develop these skills at different times and at different paces.


Today we wanted to share with you some fun, small activities that promote fine motor skills. These are activities your preschooler might enjoy doing at the kitchen table while you’re preparing dinner, or activities you might do with your child on a rainy afternoon for a change of pace.


Some tips:

Think process, not product. Some of the skills that will benefit your child in school will be the ability to cut, arrange, and glue – so a simple activity of cutting construction paper and gluing it in a pattern will promote that skill.

Just play. Your child will naturally experiment with materials and strategies – this promotes thinking and problem-solving. If your child doesn’t do one of these activities just like you pictured, that’s okay! Have fun with it.

Try a variety of materials. Some children prefer the sensory input of materials that are hard, squishy, or textured and naturally gravitate to those items. Try something new from time to time – Play-Doh, finger paint, ridged pasta, textured blocks, natural items such as pinecones or wood, beads of many shapes and sizes. Feeling and interacting with a variety of materials gives your child a variety of sensory inputs.


An article to read:

This article from Parents magazine lists some fine motor activities your child might do in school during the preschool or early elementary years, including:

  • paste things onto paper
  • clap hands
  • touch fingers
  • button and unbutton
  • work a zipper
  • build a tower of 10 blocks
  • complete puzzles with five or more pieces
  • manipulate pencils and crayons well enough to color and draw
  • copy a circle or cross onto a piece of paper
  • cut out simple shapes with safety scissors

See if you can incorporate these activities into playing with your child. Just drawing together, or asking your child to help you with the zipper on a coat, or building a tall tower of blocks promotes these skills.


Two videos to watch:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”- Jeremiah 29:11

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