play-doh fine motor tools

26 FUN Fine Motor Activities For Kids (2020)

Do you want your child to learn how to button their clothes, zip their jackets, and write their name?

 

I’m guessing all of you answered yes to this question.

 

If you want your kids to do these everyday tasks, you need to focus on fine motor skills! Fine motor skills involve using the small muscles in your hand to do activities with your fingers and thumb.

 

Today’s post is designed to help you incorporate my 26 SIMPLE and FUN fine motor activities at home. Let’s get started!

 


Activity #1. Pasta Straining

 

Want to know the EASIEST activity to pull off that your child will love?

 

Putting dried spaghetti noodles into a strainer! I had no clue that my little guy was going to be so enthralled with this activity.

 

pasta straining fine motor activity

 

I appreciate the activities that I can pull off with things that I have in my pantry. It makes it convenient, and I don’t have to spend a lot of money.

 

Directions:

 

1. Get a strainer and some spaghetti noodles out.

 

2. Flip the stainer upside down and demonstrate how to put the noodles through the small holes.

 

3. Explain to your child that they don’t have to push down hard because then the noodles will break off. This happened several times with my son until I showed him how to do this correctly!

 


Activity #2: Golf Tee Hammering

 

Want to hit it big with your kids?

 

Golf tee hammering is easy to pull off!

 

You will need a styrofoam block, golf tees, fine motor kid-friendly tweezers, marbles (if you want), and a toy hammer.

 

fine motor hammering golf tees kids activity

 

Directions:

 

1. Place the styrofoam block on the floor and demonstrate how to use the toy hammer to tap the golf tee into the styrofoam block.

 

2. When using the hammer, explain that they shouldn’t hit the golf tee as that hard or the golf tee will go through the block. You want to go about halfway through!

 

3. Have your kids put as many golf tees are they want or can fit on the block, and when they are all done, have them either place marbles on top of the golf tees with their hands or have them use kid-friendly tweezers for fine motor development.

 


Activity #3: Fruit Loop Color Sort

 

An activity that involves food will get kids’ attention right away!

 

The Fruit Loop Color Sort activity involves color recognition skills, counting, and fine motor skills.

 

fruit loop color sorting fine motor activity

 

Directions:

 

1. Place Play-Doh down on an art tray and push several dried spaghetti noodles into it.

 

2. Demonstrate how to put the fruit loops on the noodles and explain that they should separate them by color (I started by putting 2 Fruit Loops of each color on the noodles, so they understood what they were supposed to do.) 

 

3. Younger ones can focus on just sorting by color while older ones can count and discuss which color had the most, least or if any are the same.

 


Activity #4: Bouncy Ball Pick Up

 

Your kids will be bouncing off the walls (in a good way) to try this activity!

 

fine motor 12 frame math activity

 

Scoop scissors are a blast for kids and adults to use! I enjoyed using them for this activity, and the kids love using them during sensory play (water marbles or pom-pom bins).

 

Directions:

 

1. You’ll need an egg carton, ping pong balls, and scoop scissors for this activity.

 

2. Set out the supplies and have your child try to use the scoop scissors to pick up ping pong balls and place them into the tray.

 

3. Simple as that! A fabulous fine motor activity with 2 steps! Have fun!

 

4. Looking to extend this activity? Add in some addition and subtraction problems with the older kids like this!

 

addition and subtraction ball game

 

5. Write down some addition or subtraction problems down, have your child say the question out loud, and place the correct amount of bouncy balls in the egg carton. Add the balls together to find the solution!

 


Activity #5: Bead Threading

 

Finding an activity that kids will like and can learn from is the best!

 

This bead color sorting activity works on color recognition, number recognition, counting, sorting, and fine motor skills! That’s pretty amazing.

 

bead threading fine motor activity

 

To do this activity, you need the following items: pipe cleanersmulti-colored beads, paper, and markers to write the numbers at the top, tape, and a flat surface.

 

If you guys don’t have an art tray, they are honestly the best. I use them for everything! I’m sure you saw throughout this whole article.

 

art trays for kids crafts

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Directions:

a. Write each number out on a piece of paper and cut them out and tape them down. We only had room for 8 on our tray, but you can do as many as you want!

 

b. Tape down the different colored pipe cleaners that you want to use at the top.

 

c. Show your child how to string each color on the pipe cleaner. Depending on how old they are, you can do this activity together, working on counting out loud, or you can have them do it on their own to see how they do and talk about it afterward!

 


Activity #6: Pool Noodles

 

Pool noodles can be used for so many great activities! Plus, they are cheap, so I love using them for learning activities.

 

I have two fine motor activities to share that we have done with cut-up pool noodles.

 

A. Pool Noodle Donuts

 

When kids hear the word DONUT, they will come running over to see what this activity is all about!

 

They won’t even care that these donuts aren’t real because they will have so much fun pretending they are making donuts.

 

 

Directions:

 

1. Using a kitchen knife cut a large pool noodle in small sections.

 

2. Dump out some different color pom’s for your kids to stuff inside or place on top each little pool noodle.

 

3. You can pretend like they are making donuts and ask them about what color each donut is and what kind of “jelly” or “cream filling” is inside the donuts (they will love this!). 

 

4. Have your kids use fine motor tweezers to place the pom’s inside to work on developing those small muscles in their hands.

 

B.Rubber bands around the noodles

 

Learning to count and number recognition is both simple and fun with this activity.

 

cut pool noodle fine motor math activity

 

Directions:

 

1. Cut a large pool noodle into small sections by using a kitchen knife.

 

2. Get some rubber bands and manipulative numbers (puzzle pieces, blocks, magnetic numbers, etc.) to show your kids how many rubber bands they should place on each pool noodle.

 

3. Show your children how to stretch a rubber band and place it over the pool noodle, so they know what to do.

 

4. If you have younger children, you may have to help them stretch the rubber bands. Work on counting the correct number out and show them the number, so make sure they understand how many go on each pool noodle.

 

5. Older ones can try to do this independently!

 


Activity #7: DIY Cutting Sheets

 

Learning how to use scissors and cut can be a difficult skill for some kids, that’s why it’s essential to provide some practice at home before school begins.

 

If you want to make your own cutting strips, they are SIMPLE and quick to make.

 

construction paper scissor skills practice sheets

 

Get a few pieces of construction paper and make vertical, horizontal, zig-zag, curvy, and little lines! You’ll also need a pair of safe scissors for kids.

 

For younger children, start with the vertical, horizontal, and little line cuts. They could even practice ripping the paper if they can’t hold scissors yet.

 

The older ones can try to do each of the lines, practicing how to hold the scissors correctly and manipulating the piece of paper with the scissors to be able to cut where the lines go!

 

Don’t have the supplies to make your own? Check out Melissa and Doug’s Scissor Skills Workbook!

 

Scissors Skills Practice Workbook

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My daughter enjoyed this book! The scissors come with it as well, which is a plus!

 

Make sure you have a glue stick because there are many activities where objects should be glued together to create something fun!

 


Activity #8: Magnet Block Sorting Boxes 

 

Magnet blocks are amazing because they are an open-ended toy that can be used to build different structures and designs each time that you play with them.

 

Why is this so important?

 

Who wants to waste money on a toy that will be used once, and your kids will be done with it? No one!

 

Open-ended toys are the best to buy because children will be excited to use their imaginations to create something different each time they play with it.

 

magnet block color sorting with tweezers

 

Directions:

 

1. Create as many different boxes as you want for your kids to sort by color. I chose 5 different colors!

 

2. Use toy tweezers to pick up pom-poms or other small manipulatives and place them in the correct color bin.

 

3. To extend this activity, have your kids count how many poms there are of each color. Ask them what color has the most, least and if any are the same.

 

magnet blocks for children learning

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Activity #9: Pasta Cutting Sensory Bin

 

One thing that you need to know about me is that I LOVE PASTA.

 

It’s also fabulous for sensory play and fine motor skill development. By adding in child scissors, a fork, tweezers, and a little pot, your kids will be ready to become a chef!

 

pasta cutting sensory bin fine motor activity

 

Directions:

 

1. Cook pasta noodles and let them cool or add some cold water to the noodles if you are in a hurry to get this activity going!

 

2. Add in some fun tools (tweezers, forks, scissors, small plates, pots, spoons, etc.) These utensils work on fine motor development of cutting, grabbing and twisting, and scooping.

 

3. Show your child how to hold the scissors if they don’t know how to. If they know how to, have them work on cutting some pasta noodles. With my younger son, who is 2, I held up the pasta for him, and he cut it so that they can join in the fun too!

 


Activity #10: Taped Toys

 

Sometimes activities don’t need to be fancy to get kids’ attention.

 

taped toys fine motor game

 

This activity can turn into pretend play by telling your kids they are superheroes trying to set their toys free! You may even want to grab your kid’s superhero capes and masks!

 

Directions:

 

1. Get a roll of painter’s tape and gather up some of your kid’s favorite toys.

 

2. Tape the toys to a flat surface (the wall, a door, or an art tray).

 

3. For younger kids, I would use only one or two pieces of tape, so it is not too hard for them to peel off. To challenge older kids, place several pieces of tape on the toy to see how long it takes for them to save their toys.

 


Activity #11: Fine Motor Boards

These fine motor boards are amazing because they work on essential life skills that kids will be expected to know how to do before school starts.

 

life skills set for fine motor skills

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Work on lacing, buttoning, zipping, buckling, tying, and snapping with these boards. I especially like these because they are small and be taken on the go since they are small.

 

Suggestions:

 

1. For young kids, start with the zipping and snapping boards; I just got these, and my son is two, and those are the boards we are working on now.

 

2. Preschoolers can try all of the boards! The tying and the lacing activities will be challenging, make sure to encourage them to keep trying and don’t get frustrated.

 

3. Research shows that 5-6 is when most kids learn how to tie their shoes! I work in a school, and most kindergartners don’t know how to tie their shoes, but almost all the first graders do.

 


Activity #12: Hole Punch Number Counting

 

I love trying new materials out for activities; I especially enjoy it when the new material turns out to be a huge hit!

 

hole punching counting fine motor activity

 

To do this activity, you will need a hole puncher and paper! I don’t know about you, but I love it when not that many materials are required for an AWESOME activity.

 

hole puncher kids activity

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Directions:

 

1. Print and cut out your FREE Number Cards Here! I suggest using cardstock paper because the numbers will hold up better, but regular printer paper is fine too.

 

2. Show each number to your child and ask them which number it is to work on number recognition.

 

3. Show them how to use the hole puncher and count along with them, so they know how many holes to make in each number.

 


Activity #13: Hole Punching Shapes

 

Since we are on the topic of hole punching, let’s add in another hole punching activity that works on shape recognition as well as lacing technique.

 

My friend Jessica is the creator of The Primary Parade, and she came up with this fantastic holiday-themed fine motor lesson.

lacing shapes fine motor activity

 

I mean, how cute are these? I’m writing this article in January, so it’s almost Valentine’s Day. But, this activity can be done at any time of the year!

 

Directions:

 

1. The ones you see in this picture were bought from Dollar Tree, so if you have one near you, stop in to see if they have some!

 

2. If you don’t want to run to the store, you can DIY! Draw the shape that you wish on cardstock paper or a piece of felt.

 

3. Use a hole puncher and create holes that are close together (like you see above) all around the shape.

 

4. Grab some threading laces for your little ones to thread the string through the holes. They may need help with this part, so guide their hands in the right direction if they are struggling.

5. The goal is to try to lace the entire shape. You can make a tie at the bottom to hold it all in place, so then they can play with it if they want!

 

Check out The Primary Parade for some more great preschool lessons and activities!

 


Activity #14: Trapped Toy Box

 

I was astounded on how concentrated both my kids were when doing this fine motor activity.

 

trapped toys bin

 

To do this activity, you need a bin with holes in it, yarn, toy tweezers, and big/small toys.

 

You could do a specific theme for your bin. We have a ton of toy dinosaurs, so that worked well for us!

 

I’ve seen spiders, bugs, mini-erasers, and many more. It’s up to you what you want to use! What’s important is knowing how to set the bin up.

 

How to set up a trapped toy bin

 

a.  Place the toys you want at the bottom of your container.

 

b. Thread the pieces of yarn through the holes and tie them at the bottom of the bin.

 

c. Create your bin by adding as many pieces of thread as you want! The more, the harder it will be for them to try to pull the toys out.

 

d. Add in fine motor tools if you have them or have them use their hands to try to yank them out!

 

e. Make this more challenging by seeing if your child can pull some out without hitting the pieces of yarn.

 


Activity #15: Ripping A Rainbow

 

A lot of times, I set up my activities for the kids to do, and they go to town and have a blast with them.

 

This time, I wanted to help my daughter complete the art project! It was a blast working with her, we talked and laughed while doing the craft, and it came out beautifully.

 

ripping a rainbow fine motor kids activity

 

For this activity, we used a large piece of butcher paper, different colored construction paper, glue, and cotton balls to make clouds at the bottom.

 

You don’t need to have butcher paper; I just thought it would be fun to do this on a larger piece of paper. White paper works just great!

 

Directions:

 

1. Rip a bunch of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple pieces of construction paper into small pieces. Since we used a big piece of paper, I helped my daughter with this, since it would take a while to do it alone. Ripping is the fine motor activity for this project!

 

2. Draw a rainbow on the piece of paper and have your child place a dot of glue and place the specific colors in place to make a rainbow! Remember to stress, “A little dot is a lot” when working with glue!

 

3. When the construction paper is in place, add in the cotton balls at the bottom by adding a little glue and sticking them on top!

 


Activity #16: 2D Shape Mini Eraser Mats

 

So I’ve recently developed a problem.

 

I have an obsession with mini-erasers! Sure, okay, I am exaggerating a bit, but every time I am at Target or a craft store, I am looking for new mini erasers because they work as such great manipulatives, rewards for students, and they are just so darn cute.

 

fine motor shape mat worksheets

 

So this activity focuses on mini erasers, but there are several different ways that these mats can be used for learning purposes!

 

Directions:

 

1. Download and print your Shape Mats HERE!

 

2. Get out your mini erasers, do-a-dot markers, play-doh, crayons, candy, or pom poms (there’s probably even more options, but I’ll stop there).

 

3. Ask your child what the shape is and talk about how many sides it has! This will help with shape recognition.

 

4. Have your child use their fingers to pick up the material of your choice and place them on the circles of shape. To enhance this activity more, have your child use child-friendly tweezers to pick up the object and put them in the circles.

 

kid friendly fine motor tweezers

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5. To extend the learning more, you can have your child count how many mini-erasers that they placed on the shape!

 


Activity #17: Sticker Lines

 

Peeling stickers and using small muscles in your fingers to place them in a specific spot is an excellent fine motor activity!

 

sticker line fine motor activity

 

Plus, how colorful and fun does this activity look? We didn’t even finish the lines, so I could show you how to draw each of the lines, and it looks terrific!

 

Directions:

 

1. On a piece of paper, draw several different types of lines ( zig-zag, curvy, straight, castle, and loopy).

 

2. Get some circle stickers and do-a-dot markers out to have some fun completing this activity!

 

3. Have your child place whatever sticker they want on the lines and tell them to try to get them close to each other to follow the entire line or as close to it as possible.

 

4. For older kids, start the line for them and create a pattern or colors that you want them to follow.

 

5. In the castle line, you can see I just did the edges, that’s a way to mix things up a little bit!

 


Activity #18: Q-Tip Sight Word Tracing

 

What I have learned about teaching sight words to kids is that you MUST create fun activities to keep them interested in learning.

 

When you bring paint and Q-tips into play, that’ll get their attention right away.

 

Q-Tip fine motor activity sight words

 

The best part about this activity is that kids also get practice with their handwriting skills because they are working on building each letter!

 

Directions:

 

1. Gather up several Q-tips, washable paint, and an art tray.

 

2. Write several words that you would like to work on with your child on a piece of paper.

 

3. Have them dab the Q-tip just a little bit in some paint, you don’t want them to have a huge glob of paint, or it will just smear on the letters. Demonstrate the first letter or two on how they should do this.

 

4. Allow your kids to switch colors and get as creative as they want with creating sight words. Have them say each sight word before painting it.

 


Activity #19: Stringing Pipe Cleaners

 

Stringing pipe cleaners is a colorful and challenging fine motor activity! My kids pretended like they were making aliens, which made this activity last even longer than I anticipated!

stringing pipe cleaners

 

On her own, my daughter came up with the activity in the first picture. She’s trying hard to learn how to tie a bow, so she was doing the first step with the pipe cleaners all around the Wiffle ball!

 

You never know what kids are going to come up with, show you, or learn throughout an activity. That’s why I love trying all these activities with them. Some ideas are a flop, I’m not going to lie but some turn out WAY better than expected and this was one of them.

 

Directions:

 

1. Place a bunch of pipe cleaners and a few Wiffle balls out for the kids to work with.

 

2. Demonstrate how to put the pipe cleaner in one of the holes and pull it through another hole in the ball.

 

3. Once there are several pipe cleaners in the ball, it starts to become more complicated, make sure to work with your child to help guide and encourage them!

 

4. Check out the designs above that we did (crisscrossing, straight through, and curly).

 


Activity #20: Play-Doh Play

 

Rolling, cutting, peeling, slicing, and molding are all the fine motor skills that are being used when playing with Play-Doh.

 

play-doh fine motor tools

This set-up is an example of some of the fantastic tools that can be used to improve fine motor skills.

 

I’ve collected these different tools through a variety of different Play-Doh sets that we have bought. Below are two different sets of tools that have many of the things that you see in the above photo!

 

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Alphabet play doh cutters for kids alphabet learning

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Directions:

 

1. Set out the Play-Doh for your child to start working with. Give them some ideas if they are struggling with some structures they can make with their hands (snakes, balls, circles, etc.).

 

2. Assist your child with using the cutters and demonstrate for them how to peel the access dough from the cut-outs to create the desired shape!

 

3. Show them how to use the fine motor tools and see if they can do it on their own!

 


Activity #21: Pasta Necklaces

 

Does anyone remember doing this activity as a kid? I think we all did this activity in preschool!

 

But, it’s been around for that long for a reason. It’s simple, kids get to be creative with paint, and they enjoy stringing the noodles on a piece of string.

 

noodle necklaces

 

Directions:

 

1. Gather up the following materials: string, rigatoni noodles, washable kids paint, a paintbrush, water cup, and a paper towel to dab the brush with to not blend the colors.

 

2. Have your child paint a bunch of noodles! When they are finished with painting them, set them off to the side to start drying.

 

3. Let the pasta noodles dry for 2-3 hours before stringing them.

 

4. Let your child try holding the string and put the noodles through the necklace, so they are using both of their hands!

 


Activity #22: Construction Counting 

 

Sometimes all it takes is including a toy that your child loves to make an activity a major hit! In our case, my son loves construction vehicles, so I wanted to plan something for him that he would be able to do and excited about.

 

construction counting fine motor activity

 

In my experience, whenever I add rocks into learning activities, my kids can’t even wait for me to be done setting up the activity for them to begin to play!

 

Directions:

 

1. In a container, place kinetic sand and rocks from outside.

 

2. For this activity, I wanted to use something different, so I added a chip clip for him to use to pick up the rocks and place them in the dump truck.

 

3. I encouraged him to squeeze the two sides together to open up the clip to pick up the rocks and then to let go when he got to the truck. As he dropped the rocks into the truck, we would count how many we had!

 

4. The best part about this bin is that they have to search through the sand to find the rocks! They also will enjoy dumping the stones back into the container.

 


Activity #23: Pouring Bin

 

Practical life activities are essential to children’s development because they focus on real-life skills that they need to know how to do.

 

pouring practical life and fine motor activity

 

I suggest using a deeper container so your kiddo can play and explore while not getting your entire floor messy.

 

Directions:

 

1. Place measuring cups, plastic kids bowls, scoops, spoons, kid-friendly tweezers, a whisk, and a bigger measuring cup in the bin.

 

2. Want to add in some extra sensory fun, I added in some water marbles and colored rice that I made previously so they could pour and mix some things (yes, they did end up combining everything, and yes it was messy, but it was all in the bin, so it was easy to clean).

 

3. Encourage your child to pour the water into different cups, trying not to spill the water during the transfer and while they are pouring. Show them how to use the scoops to pick up different sensory items and scoop them in the different containers.

 

4. Let them enjoy, play, and learn with this bin on their own after you demonstrate a few things for them! This encourages independence.

 


Activity #24: How Many Drops To Fill The Dot?

 

STEAM/STEM activities are my 5 year-olds favorite lessons right now. When she gets the chance to be creative and use her imagination, she is immediately hooked into the activity.

 

fill the dot fine motor activity

 

I do all of these activities; this is important to me to make sure I am giving you all the best content that I can to make sure these things work. 

 

This was one of my daughter’s favorites for the fine motor series!

 

Directions:

 

1. For this activity, you need a piece of paper, a marker, plastic bowls, a reusable folder, food coloring, and a dropper.

 

2. Draw different sized circles on a piece of white paper and place it in a reusable folder or make sure you have an art tray underneath the paper.

 

3. Put some water and 2-3 drops of food coloring in several bowls and mix together with the dropper.

 

4. Have your child use the dropper to squeeze the liquid from the bowl. They should transfer to a circle and squeeze a few drops depending on how big the circle is on a specific circle. Part of the fine motor activity is to control how much is squeezed out.

 

5. To extend this activity, have your child try to count how many times they squeezed the eyedropper to fill the circle. They can write the number underneath with a dry erase marker to compare with the others.

 


Activity #25: Tracing Lines

 

So at the end of all of this fine motor business, we get to the reason why we are working so hard to improve these skills.

 

Handwriting and being able to hold a pencil correctly are CRITICAL fine motor skills that your child will use in their everyday life in school.

 

Tracing lines is a great beginning to learn how to hold a writing utensil the right way.

 

tracing lines fine motor activity

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What I love about this book is that it has activities to learn how to draw shapes, do mazes, play matching games, and trace lines. This is the first step in learning how to make lines and shapes to create letters and numbers.

 

There are no specific directions for this book. This book is a dry-erase book, which is fabulous because you can erase the lines and try them again a different day, which is better than having to print off worksheet after worksheet.

 

The one piece of advice that I have is to work on this skill at least once a week. It can only be one page, but as long as they get some exposure to it once a week, their skills will get better over time.

 

If you are interested in learning a little bit more about pencil grip and how to help your child develop the correct technique, take a look at the site following site.

 

Typical Pencil Grasp Development

 


Activity #26: Handwriting Practice

 

So, my mom just showed me some of my old school work from when I was a kid and man my handwriting needed some work!

 

Handwriting can be tough for kids. Some kids can memorize the ABC’s, numbers, how to spell their name, sight words, but when it comes to handwriting, there’s nothing you can memorize. It all comes down to your ability to write letters correctly.

 

 

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This handwriting toy is fantastic. It’s the next step to take with kids before they start writing on lines. I love that it demonstrates how to make the letter, and then the kids can copy the example, but they still have to make it themselves using the pen.

 

One thing I wanted to mention about this toy is that it doesn’t have the technology to know how your child wrote the letter on the pad.

 

Providing positive and corrective feedback by the parent is CRITICAL in handwriting activities. Also, being encouraging to your kids is imperative to how they feel about actually doing the work.

 


Final Thoughts and Conclusion

 

Fine motor skills are essential for kids’ development, self-esteem, and success in their school work.

 

That makes fine motor skills kind of a big deal, huh?

 

The good news is, is that huge strides can be made to increase fine motor skills by doing fun activities that they will enjoy doing. All you need to do is start implementing these lessons at home!

 

If you have any fine motor activities that have worked for you and your family, please share them with our community by commenting below!

 

Happy Learning!

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