Fine motor development in children is very important! Fine motor skills are basically the ability to make movements using the small muscles in our hands and wrists. While these movements come naturally to adults and are preformed without any thought, children need to practice and develop these skills. While fine motor skills seems simple, they are quite complex and involve coordinated efforts between our brains and our muscles.
So, why is fine motor development so important for young infants and toddlers? Fine motor skills impact many areas of our lives – from day to day tasks like getting dressed, using utensils, and picking up items – to larger, learning related activities – using scissors, writing, stacking blocks, drawing pictures, etc.
Now it is important to note that children develop at different rates and it is important not to compare our child to another child. However, it is also important to follow the general development milestones and work towards helping our children achieve those as best we can. There are lots of easy activities that promote fine motor development that we can do with children in our own homes.
Below I list some easy, budget friendly activities great for toddlers. These activities could work for other ages too but are aimed mainly at the 1-3 year range. Before we jump in I want to say again that all children are different, and that just because one child may interact great with an activity, it doesn’t mean every child will. We all learn in our own way! Never push activities on your child. Letting them play and explore as they please is the best way to encourage learning!
1 | Posting Activity – Chips or Coins into a Bank
Using a small coin bank and some rainbow chips, this easy posting activity promotes fine motor skill development through using the fingers to pinch and grasp the chips and then positioning them so they fit through the slot. You can use any kind of container for this activity by simply cutting a slot into the top. The rainbow chips I used in the photo below can be purchased HERE. They are actually magnetic chips and come with a magnetic wand as well!
2 | Cutting with a Play Knife
We have an awesome play food set where all the food pieces can be cut into two pieces. It is a great fine motor activity and also a toy that is open ended and provides lots of other play options. You can shop the set HERE.
If you are not looking to buy or purchase any new toys, another great option is to use a plastic knife and some play dough! Your child is still using the same small muscles and cutting action to develop their fine motor skills by cutting the play dough, and it is budget friendly!
3 | Threading Wooden Rings
For this activity I used a mug holder and some small wooden rings. It is a great activity for fine motor skills as well as hand eye coordination. You can also use larger wooden rings to start with to make it a bit easier.
4 | Craft Stick Push
A great activity for those little hands! All you need is an old egg carton and some craft sticks. The activity would be great for fine motor development by simply pushing the sticks into the carton, but you can add additional learning by painting or coloring the bottom and using rainbow craft sticks to push into the corresponding color. Fine motor development while also learning colors!
5 | Pipe Cleaner Threading
A super simple activity to throw together, but such a great fine motor activity! I found these mini wiffle balls at a local dollar store and then just cut some pipe cleaners in half. This is a great activity for travel as well!
6 | Lining Up Small Objects
A great way to develop fine motor skills is by lining up objects. One way to do this is by using tape or markers to create a line or “base” to set the objects on. You could use blocks, animals, cars, coins, etc.
7 | Threading Beads
Threading activities are always a bit hit in our house, so I set them up often. Most of the time I use a grilling skewer and stick them in play dough so they stand vertically, and then we thread beads onto the skewers. I have also used spaghetti noodles when I had no skewers, as well as Cheerios when I’ve had no beads! Great for fine motor development as well as hand and eye coordination.
8 | Peeling and Sticking
A great (and easy) fine motor activity is simply having your child peel and stick stickers. You can also make it a bit more challenging by adding a target for sticking the stickers. In the activity below I added colored dots for my 2 year old to stick the colored stickers to. She used fine motor skills and also practiced her color matching and identification.
9 | Posting With a Spice Jar
Another super easy activity to set up. Use an old spice jar and some cut up straws, toothpicks, or q-tips, and have your child post them into the holes of the spice jar. This is a great activity to keep in your purse for restaurants or long car rides when you need something to entertain your kiddo.
So there you have it! 9 super easy fine motor activities to try with your little one. Remember, activities don’t have to be complicated or elaborate. Sometimes the it is the simple activities that are the most well recieved. Also, children are constantly learning. We don’t have to be setting up activities everyday to have our children develop their fine motor skills. They are constantly using their little hands in their everyday interactions which helps to develop these skills. However, these activities are simply tools that assist in your childs development while also providing some fun!