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Fine Motor Skills Activities for Preschoolers

Fine motor skills activities for preschoolers are things they can do with their hands – finger, thumb, wrist. These are the skills children need to cut with scissors, write their names, and zip up their jackets.

Cartoon picture of 6 preschoolers using fine motor skills

The importance of developing fine motor skills is that they will help your child become more independent in taking care of themselves – but this takes practice. Lots of practice. To help develop these skills you can help your child work on two areas:

1) building strength in their hands

2) practice hand-eye coordination

Fine Motor Skills Activities for Preschoolers

Below you’ll find a collection of activity ideas you can use as you help your little one practice so they can develop and build these fine motor skills.

Preschool girl coloring with colored pencils.

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Developing Fine Motor Skills

To build hand strength your child has to use their little finger muscles. This starts around 9 -12 months when they are starting to hold toys or pick up finger foods.

As with any muscle in the body, you have to use it to strengthen it. While the idea of building muscles usually makes us think of weight lifting or working out at a gym that’s not the case here. Everyday activities, like pouring water from one container to another, are great hand strengthening activities to help build fine motor skills for toddlers and preschoolers.

As children start working on these skills, parents tend to become anxious to determine if their child is right or left-handed. Usually, children begin to show definite patterns around 3 or 4 yrs old. (Others a little earlier or later)

But for now, I just want to point out that as your child works on these skills, chances are you are going to see items shifting from one hand to another. This is because their hands get tired and they aren’t done doing whatever they working on. This is the way God made them. It’s important that as they are developing in this area, adults don’t try getting them to use one hand over the other. It’s not a choice the child is going to make – it’s something their brain has already decided (along with a little genetics).

Parents can best help their little ones by providing plenty of opportunities to build these fine motor skills muscles.

Practice Fine Motor Skills at Playtime

A child's hands squshing playdough.

Here are some fine motor activity ideas that your child can practice as they play:

  • picking up small items with their pincer fingers (thumb and index finger)
  • tearing paper
  • folding paper
  • squirt with spray bottles or turkey basters
  • pulling legos apart
  • peeling stickers
  • pop bubble wrap
  • Play-Doh
  • kinetic sand ( definitely a favorite for kids and adults!)
  • finger paint
  • make a necklace out of large pasta noodles or fruit loops
  • string bead or noodles onto a pipe cleaner
  • rescue plastic animals from hair bands or tape
  • tossing balls or bean bags
  • squeezing a washcloth
  • pushing buttons on toys
  • puppets
  • finger paint
  • puzzles
  • pegboards
  • scribble ‘draw’ with crayons, marker, and colored pencils
  • dot markers

Real Life Fine Motor Skills Activities at Home

A mom with a preschool boy watering plants with a spraybottle.

Here are some real-life, fine motor activities for building fine motor skills at home. Be patient, these will take time for your little one to learn and develop.

  • brushing their teeth
  • using a fork or spoon to eat
  • brushing their hair
  • cutting a sandwich
  • spreading icing on a cake
  • opening and closing lids
  • turning pages in a book
  • scooping or spooning items to help with cooking
  • washing their hands
  • opening containers
  • washing the car with a sponge they can wring out
  • using a spray bottle to water plants

For more great ideas and thoughts on real-life practice check out 11 Effective Tips on How to Teach Self Help Skills for Toddlers by Christina over at What Does Mama Say.

Practice With Songs And Fingerplays

Cartoon preschoolers acting out finger play songs.

Be sure to check out more motor skill topics:

Debbie Brown Tothood 101

Hi! I’m Debbie Brown. I created Tothood 101 because I’m passionate about sharing preschool activity ideas, and resources I’ve gleaned from 20+ years of experience teaching preschoolers at home and in the classroom. My goal is to encourage, guide, and help inspire you to make learning SUPER FUN for your preschooler at home! Check out the ABOUT page to learn more.


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