Fine Motor play a boy and a girl playing with tongs and pom poms

Not all fine motor play is created equal. I see lots of activities out there that are called “fine motor activities” that simply aren’t. They focus on the wrong things and overcomplicate fine motor play. It just does not need to be that difficult.

Let’s get those little hands ready for big things with some simple fine motor play activities brought right to your inbox (including the activity you see above). Sign up for 10 days of St. Patrick’s themed printable fine motor activities for your preschooler.

What is fine motor play?

There are lots of activities out there that are called “fine motor” but don’t actually work the muscles that are considered fine motor.

There are approximately 30 muscles in the hand, 27 bones, 27 joints and over 100 ligaments. That’s a lot happening in a relatively small area, and these structures all need to coordinate together too. For many kids, this is A LOT to ask of their little bodies.

child with paint on her hands smiling

In our age of technology, children are interacting differently with the world around them. There is less and less opportunity for the hands to develop properly so that they can take on every day challenges, like zipping or buttoning, holding a pencil, managing items at meal time and so much more.

We’re seeing an increase of young children with deficits in the areas of hand strength, fine motor coordination and dexterity and bilateral coordination (working the hands together). Most kids simply need a little extra practice to fully develop the muscles of the hand and get them working together.

That’s why fine motor play is so vital for a child’s development. It’s even more important than learning the ABCs or counting to 10. After all, you use your hands for just about everything that you do all do long every day.

Getting Started with Fine Motor play

You may have more things on hand than you realize to engage your child in fine motor play. Here some things that I use regularly, some that I already had and most of the others I could grab at the dollar store…

Supplies for fine motor play including pom poms, popsicle sticks, beads, stickers, feathers and more
  • Play dough
  • Clay
  • Buttons
  • Coins
  • Dice
  • Pom poms
  • Tissue paper (cut into 1″ squares)
  • Dry beans
  • Tongs
  • Tweezers
  • Water dropper
  • BINGO chips (with a magnet wand is super fun)
  • Blocks
  • Erasers
  • Small toys
  • Dry pasta
  • Beads
  • Glue in a bottle
  • Broken crayons
  • Kid scissors
  • Short pencil
  • Yarn
  • Hole punch
  • Stapler
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Cotton balls
  • Q-tips
  • Stickers
  • Washi tape
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Clothespins
  • Feathers
  • Spray bottle

Once you have some of these fine motor play items gathered up (you don’t need them all), put them into a little kit so that you can grab them whenever you find a pocket of free time. Have your child interact with them however you want, mixing and matching the items.

Adapting Simple Printables

I love making fine motor printables that you can just print off and play with using some of the items that we talked about above. Each of the fine motor tools that I develop come with detailed instructions, and there’s usually more than one way to use them.

Let’s take a look at a simple worksheet type activity that we’ve turned into a powerhouse fine motor play activity, using it in 7 different ways…

color worksheet with pompoms

Grab the colored pompoms and use small tongs to place them.

worksheet with sensory bag

Create a sensory squishy bag with colored beads or mini pompoms. (We filled a freezer weight gallon ziploc with clear scent-free hair gel, beads and taped it shut for good measure. Be sure to squeeze extra air out.) Place it over the worksheet and move the beads around with your fingertip. To learn how to make a squishy bag, check out this video.

worksheet with washi tape

Tear off pieces of colored washi tape to finish off your worksheet.

worksheet with play dough

Roll small balls of colored play dough to mark the answers. Smash each ball with your fingertip at the end of the activity.

worksheet with BINGO chips

Place colored BINGO chips and then remove them with a magnetic wand.

worksheet with buttons

Grab grandma’s bag of buttons and sort them out onto the worksheet.

visual perceptual clover worksheet using crayons

Simply use crayons to circle or x out the items on the worksheet.

I bet that if you look around your house you could come up with even more ideas. Do you have blocks or small toys in different colors that you could use? How about those round stickers you have leftover from the last yard sale? There are so many possibilities and ways to incorporate fine motor practice into what seems like a basic straight forward learning worksheet.

FREE fine motor activities

Let’s get those little hands ready for big things with some simple fine motor play activities brought right to your inbox (including the activity you see above). Sign up for 10 days of St. Patrick’s themed printable fine motor activities for your preschooler.

In your corner,

Joy (pediatric OT)

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *