Let’s start out by talking about the importance of fine motor skills. Just imagine if you had limited use of your hands, that every time you tried to use them they just did not cooperate or were not strong enough to accomplish the task. In our hand and forearm there are more than 30 muscles. And not only do they need to be strong individually, but they also need to coordinate together in order to achieve our daily tasks. That can be a tall order for lots of little ones who struggle with fine motor coordination. The only way for improving fine motor skills is through practice, practice, practice. These 11 craft activities to develop fine motor skills in children of all ages.
Fine Motor Skills Definition: Refers to activities requiring the use of the small muscles of the hands, fingers and wrists, such as playing with legos, holding a pencil correctly, picking up little items like beads, cutting with scissors, etc.
Each of these activities for developing find motor skills require a kiddo to use a mature pinch to complete the task efficiently. That is not to say that they can’t figure out a way to do it less efficiently, but you can keep encouraging them gently to “pinch, pinch, pinch” and demonstrate how the fingers should look. Even go as far (if your child tolerates it well) as moving their fingers for them a few times, called hand over hand assistance, so that they can actually feel how their fingers should be moving. And, as always, give lots of praise, even for just trying or the small victories. It is so important that your child feels successful in the task so that they want to keep on trying and improving.
If you are looking for even more to help your child along in this area, I do have some exercises for fine motor skills that I recommend. When I have used them on a consistent basis with young students in my OT practice, they made a world of difference. And if you are particularly concerned with how to develop fine motor skills for writing, we have you covered with this our FREE course on how to improve pencil grasp. You will also receive the exercises for improving fine motor skills that I mentioned as part of this mini course. Learn more…
This paper chandelier is one of the more advanced crafts on this list of activities for fine motor skills, but it can be easily adapted for any age. You can reduce it to just stringing on the paper flowers by preparing the pieces in advance. This can turn it into an activity for even working on fine motor skills for 4 year olds. Little ones love to lace! Trust me.
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This craft is not only good for working on fine motor skills, but it is also great for early cutting skills and developing visual motor integration (aka- hand eye coordination). Also, their hands will have to work together (bilateral coordination) in order to lace the beads on. This is a particularly good kindergarten fine motor skills activity with all of the extra elements. When I did these with a small group, everyone went away with theirs looking unique, and all had a smile. They were so proud of what they made.
This craft in particular is great for improving fine motor skills for 3 year olds. Placing the tape (and pulling it back off again…because you know they are going to do that too) is great practice for using a mature pincer grasp (tip of index finger working with the tip of the thumb). Don’t put a lot of expectations on this. Really the tape can be placed in any old direction, and you can even just cut it out in a circle shape when your child is done placing the washi tape. We are aiming for participation here…not perfection! They will learn more by doing than watching you make it perfect and feeling frustrated that they are not living up to a level of perfection.
A seasonal Easter craft, but there are also similar silhouette crafts on this website such as Halloween Monsters and Summertime Silhouettes. When putting tissue paper in your craft bag, don’t just keep it in the original package and cut it as you need it. Instead, get a few little ziploc sandwich bags and fill them with 1-inch squares of the tissue paper, a different color in each bag. You can do this while watching Netflix one evening. By taking this step, it ensures that you are already prepared for crafting when the opportunity presents itself. Picking up little tissue squares is the perfect way to promote fine motor skills for preschoolers (and older!).
Setting this activity up so that you child is reaching across their body to pick up each tissue square is also an easy way to promote crossing midline. This is a foundational skill for so many essential activities of life. You can learn more about crossing midline from our friends at “The Inspired Treehouse”.
To make lacing easier, be sure to put a little piece of tape on the end of the string. For this craft, the lacing does not have to be precise, which makes it perfect for almost any age. They can just weave in and out of the holes in any direction. In addition to being a great activity to develop fine motor skills, this craft will also help promote motor control, visual motor integration, bilateral coordination and hand strength. It gives a lot of punch for one simple and fun hands-on craft and is just one of the projects on this list that are perfect preschool fine motor skills activities.
This craft project is unique on this list, not only because it is a winter themed craft but also because it focuses on the specific fine motor skill of finger isolation. When making fingerprints, encourage your child to isolate the index finger from the rest of the hand, extending it like when pointing and keeping the other fingers curled under out of the way.
This rainbow mask works on fine motor skills in a similar way to the tissue paper square crafts…each time your kiddo picks up a pompom encourage him/her to use a neat pincer grasp (tip of index finger opposed to the tip of the thumb). You can even demonstrate or give some hand over hand assistance to get the movement started. An added bonus is that you can also work on crossing midline skills through setting up the pompoms on the opposite side of your child’s preferred hand. Then each time they reach of a pompom, encourage them to cross the middle of the body. You may even gently hold the hand that is closest to the pompoms to force the crossing over the midline.
Making this ice cream cone is super fun, and your child can really use their imaginations to make any “flavor” that they want! You will notice that there are lots of little items on these cones that will require the use of fine motor skills. In addition, those learning to use scissors get to practice how to cut a circle. I have a little trick for this that I would love to share…
You may already have noticed our addiction to tissue paper squares (and washi tape) around here. I just find it to be so versatile in creating colorful arts and crafts for kids. This patriotic flag not only uses the tissue paper squares as is but also adds an element of pinch the squares into little balls for the “stars” of the flag. This adds another element that requires coordination and control of the small muscles of the hand.
These activities to develop fine motor skills are some of my absolute favorite here at “In the Bag Kids’ Crafts”! Seriously, the cuteness gets me every time. If you have little ones, the making of these animals will require lots of assistance. But once they are put together they can place and replace the clothespins over and over again in various combinations. This is not only a great fine motor task, but also promotes finger strength and motor control!
Last on our list of Activities to Develop Fine Motor Skills is this adorable little Christmas tree ornament. There are several aspects of this craft that will require your child to use his/her fine motor skills…from painting using a pompom and clothespin “paint brush” to putting the washi tape on the trunk to placing on the ornaments. And then you are left with a fun Christmas decoration that you can put on the tree or anywhere in the house.