10 Fun Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers
Fine motor skill development is an essential part growing up. Naturally, the only way to develop these skills is through practice.
There’s only one problem…
Ever tried to make a preschool aged child sit down and do something that they find boring? It doesn’t go well!
Kids are easily distracted and activities need to be fun if you want them to actually do them. So to help you come up with some ideas, here are 10- fun fine motor activities.
What are Fine Motor Skills?
Fine motor skills allow us to make precise, controlled movements with our hands and wrists. Given we use our hands for most manual tasks in our lives, developing them properly is incredibly important!
As an adult, using these skills is automatic – you don’t even think about them. But when you were a child, just picking something up was difficult. That’s because fine motor skills aren’t just physical, they are also determined by your brain’s ability to translate what you want to do into your hands actually doing it.
Repetition helps your brain learn how to do this better and better over time. So keeping your child occupied with fine motor skill activities is in their best interests.
Playdough is great because it’s super easy and super effective. There’s just something magical about playdough in the eyes of a toddler that adults have forgotten. They can squish it, form different shapes, pull it apart over and over…the possibilities are endless.
All of these possibilities keep your child’s mind stimulated, and pulling the playdough apart builds strength in their hands and fingers. Plus, playdough doesn’t need to be set up or cleaned up, When they are done with it, simply put it back in the container!
2. Cake Decorating
This activity has the perk of being fun and delicious! Why not bake a treat for your family and teach your child valuable skills at the same time? You can literally have your cake and eat it too.
Asking your child to decorate a cake incorporates a lot of valuable fine motor skills. From spreading icing with a spoon, to sprinkling 100’s and 1000’s, your child will need to use their fingers in different ways depending on the action.
Then, once they are done, they get to enjoy their freshly decorated cake, Talk about positive reinforcement!
3. Paper Folding & Tearing
Paper is perfect for fine motor skill development. It is easily foldable, which helps with finger dexterity, but it can also be torn, which helps develop muscle control and grip.
It’s also useful for different ages. For an infant, simply handing them a piece of paper and letting them explore how it moves will keep them occupied. But as kids get older, you can still entertain them with folding exercises like origami, or challenges like seeing how many times they can tear a square in half.
4. Using Scissors
Cutting out shapes or between the lines should always be a supervised activity, because scissors can obviously be dangerous. With that said, using scissors is one of the best fine motor activities because it engages so many actions.
Not only does the child need to maintain a steady speed, grip and direction, they also need to watch what they are doing carefully and anticipate any changes in direction. Try throwing in some literal curveballs by introducing circles. Having to constantly angle the scissors is a great way to challenge them after they master straight lines.
For a bonus challenge, once they have some more practice, try getting them to cut away from a table while holding the paper. This adds the extra challenge of needing to hold the paper straight and keep it balanced.
5. Tong Transfers
Tong transfers, using a pair of tongs to move a small object from one place to another, sounds boring but can be really fun! The trick is to introduce some kind of game element. Try timing your child, and if they can move a certain number of objects before the time runs out they can have a reward.
Holding an object steady with a pair of tongs requires the brain to continually tell the hands how much grip is required. Once you introduce movement, this becomes much harder. So while this activity might seem a little silly, don’t underestimate its results.
6. Painting & Drawing
Painting and drawing are great ways to increase finger dexterity and grip, but they double as useful activities for later in life.
Even though people increasingly write on laptops and other devices, learning how to write with a pen and paper is still an essential life skill. Painting and drawing are great precursor skills to give your child a head start on getting their pen licence (do they still do those?).
Drawing and painting also have another advantage – they are really fun! Kids love being able to express themselves visually, especially when they are still learning language skills. Not to mention, you can put their works of ‘art’ on the fridge or their bedroom wall. This will keep them excited for the next time.
Stickers combine two fine motor skills that are very difficult for preschool aged children. First they have to peel the sticker, which takes very precise movement and patience. Second, they have to lay the sticker flat without wrinkling it, which takes dexterity and an understanding of using a light touch.
Stickers are also really engaging because they are visually stimulating. Your child will love choosing different stickers and deciding where to put them.
This is an activity that you might enjoy participating in too! Puzzles are mentally and physically challenging for young children, which makes them perfect activities for their fine motor skill development.
Your child will have to rotate shapes to test whether they will fit the puzzle or not. Then, if they get it right, they need the dexterity to lock it into place.
Just remember, don’t pick too hard of a puzzle. If it’s impossible, your child will lose interest, and if it’s too hard for you…well that will just be really embarrassing.
Threading doesn’t have to be done with a literal thread, anything that can be slipped through something else is fine. Try a good old macaroni necklace, or even pipe cleaners through the holes in your strainer from the kitchen.
Threading is a complicated activity because it forces both hands to do different actions simultaneously. While one hand holds the thread and has to nimbly manoeuvre it, the other has to hold the threaded object steady. This is a fantastic test for fine motor skill development, plus you might get some nice new ‘jewellery’ out of it too!
10. Everyday Skills
This one is kind of cheating. No one enjoys zipping up a jacket, brushing their teeth or tying their shoes. But these are all vital life skills that double as brilliant fine motor activities.
The trick is making them fun. Try incorporating some kind of reward system. If your child can tie their shoes by themselves every day for a week they get a treat at the end. Or if they can brush their teeth for three minutes they can have a treat of their choice to celebrate (okay – maybe not the best idea).
Childcare Centres Specialise in Fine Motor Skill Development
While all of these great fine motor activities are designed to be done at home, have you considered enrolling your child in a childcare centre?
Childcare centres teach children fundamental life skills, not just fine motor skills. From social behaviour to early language and writing, childcare centres are the best way to give your child a headstart on life.
Little Miracles have centres all across Western Sydney, the Central Coast and Newcastle. They are passionate about early development and would love to welcome another Little Miracle to the family.
We have preschool centres throughout NSW, explore our centres below: