Fine motor skills activities

by | May 14, 2020 | 0 comments

You may have read our recent blog about developing handwriting skills, in which we discussed that fine motor skills are just one of the skills required for developing handwriting. In this blog, we will tell you a little bit more about fine motor skills, why they are important, and tell you about some of our favourite activities for developing fine motor skills. 

What are fine motor skills?

The term ‘fine motor’ describes the use of the smaller muscles in the hands to manipulate small items such as beads, fasteners, and pencils. Fine motor skills are essential for many functional and academic skills, including: 

  • Handwriting
  • Brushing teeth
  • Using cutlery
  • Using a phone or computer
  • Scissor skills
  • Building Lego models
  • Fastening zips, buttons, and laces

Why are fine motor skills important? 

Fine motor skills are the building blocks for many everyday skills involved in meeting our self-care, play, and learning needs. Without effective fine motor skills, many of the activities that we complete daily – and may take for granted – would not be possible. These skills are therefore essential in child development. 

How can my child develop their fine motor skills? 

Any activity with requires coordination or strengthening of the hand muscles will support with developing fine motor skills. We have broken these activities down into the main skills required for effective fine motor development, so you can have a go with your little ones at home. 

Manual Dexterity

  • Posting coins or tokens into a money box slot
  • Threading beads onto a lace
  • Playing with musical instruments
  • Building Duplo or Lego projects
  • Playing Jenga
  • Building a tower
  • Sorting beads or toys by colour/ shape/ size
  • Sensory messy play
  • Retrieving small items from putty, playdough, sand, or rice
  • Stabilise spaghetti in playdough and thread beads or cheerios on
  • Wrap elastic bands round favourite toys
  • Play with different textured sensory bags
  • Wrap toys in tinfoil for ‘present’ unwrapping

Hand Strength

  • Kneading bread or pasta dough
  • Completing heavy work activities (e.g. pushing a heavy box)
  • Making salt dough decorations
  • Baking and decorating cookies 
  • Playing with playdough, clay, or putty. 
  • Fill a squeezy bottle with water for a water fight or messy play
  • Spread elastic bands using finger tips and place over bottle or jar
  • Use pegs or jumbo tweezers to pick up and sort items
  • Wash toys using a sponge and water (squeeze the sponge each time)
  • Scrunch paper, card or foil into balls
  • Use spray bottles to water plants

Mark making, handwriting, and self-care

  • Drawing
  • Painting with a brush or fingers
  • Colouring
  • Tracing shapes with index finger in sand or paint
  • Water painting: use a brush and water to paint pictures on a fence or outdoor wall
  • Tape paper to the wall for vertical drawing
  • Place different items (e.g. feathers) in paint and press onto paper to make prints
  • Obstacle course: place beads on paper and draw a path around them
  • Sprinkle flower on a tray and draw patterns in the ‘snow’ 
  • Use a toy car or boat to follow pre-drawn lines (e.g. diagonal, curvy, straight…) 
  • Place pegs on the back of your child’s shirt (at the bottom) to reach around and remove to develop the skills for wiping. 
  • Laminate a picture of teeth and put playdough ‘food’ onto teeth to brush off with a spare toothbrush. 

We hope that you and your little ones have some fun with these activities, let us know in the comments which ones you try, and which were your favourites! If you have any questions about this topic or are concerned about your child’s fine motor development, send us an email at 



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About the Author

Joanne Harries

Joanne Harries

Clinic Manager

Joanne is a friendly, positive, and outgoing Highly Specialist Paediatric Occupational Therapist & Sensory Integration Practitioner, with a real passion and drive for supporting children, young people and their families with everyday activities and challenges. Joanne Works in a professional manner at all times and it is her aim to make a difference to the lives of the individuals and families she supports.

Joanne has previously supported and help to set up Occupational Therapy services to; a children’s therapy company, secure setting for adults with complex needs, and specialist schools for Autism. Joanne’s experience of various diagnoses and working within teams of professionals also extends to complex behavioural difficulties.

Joanne has extensive experience of assessment and report writing, with a particular interest in assisting individuals, families, and Solicitors with SEN Tribunals. Joanne is available to provide assessment, consultancy and training to families, schools, Solicitors and parent support groups, remotely, in the South Wales clinic, across the UK and Internationally.

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