One of the best ways that you can support your young learner is to offer them activities that will help fine motor skills at home. These are the skills used for moving small objects with their fingers, grasping utensils like pencils, utilizing tools like scissors, and tying their shoes. Every child develops fine motor skills at different rates, but you can help by offering opportunities to practice at home with these 10 fine motor activities.
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1. Threading/Lacing Cards
Threading or lacing cards is great for developing hand-eye coordination, as well as developing the pincer grasp, which is required for picking up small objects such as beads or coins. Here are more benefits of lacing cards for young learners. You can purchase lacing cards or you can easily make your own! Cut shapes into sturdy foam, card stock, or even a paper plate. Use a hole punch to make holes around the edges. If you don't have a shoelace for your child to thread with, you can tape the end of a piece of yarn or ribbon to make it sturdy. This will make it a bit easier to grasp and thread for your child's tiny fingers.
2. Play Dough Invitation to Play
As you probably know, we are huge fans of creating invitations to play with play dough. It's simple to set up at home too, and offers your child hours of fun and fine motor development. You can buy play dough or make it using our favorite play dough recipe.
Place the play dough in the middle of a sectional plastic serving tray. Get creative with how you fill the other sections! We love themed invitations to play, having to do with a subject (insects) or season (winter) or location (the beach). Your child will love seeing the theme changed up. Include items around the house like uncooked pasta, rice, cut up paper straws, buttons, and bolts… or things just outside your home, like pinecones, pine needles, and pebbles. Craft supplies are great too! Kids love using googly eyes, pom poms, rhinestones, and glass beads. Finally, don't forget to offer tools like a small rolling pin and cookie cutters.
3. Water Play and Experiments
Don't be intimidated by water play activities at home. Water play doesn't have to mean you're going to have a huge mess to clean up afterward. If the weather is nice enough, take your materials outside, or you could even do this during bath time!
Set up various bowls or cups on a tray. Fill some with water. Have your child transfer the water using a dropper or syringe. Add food coloring and it's a color experiment! Another idea is to have your child move a rubber duck across a bin, by squirting it with a squirt bottle. Or, fill a cup with water and soak pom poms in it. Encourage your child to squeeze out all the water. Pouring, squeezing/squirting, and stirring are all fine motor activities your child can practice at home.
4. Stringing Beads
This fine motor activity is very simple and would be great to include in a busy bag binder. Have your child string beads. Pipe cleaners and craft seed beads or wooden beads are great for beginners. Threading pasta or buttons with yarn is slightly more difficult. If your young learner is up for the challenge, have them string assorted acrylic beads and letter beads onto elastic string to make bracelets and necklaces. Your child will love making gifts with their newly developed fine motor skills.
5. Sorting with Tweezers or Tongs
Have your child use children's chopsticks, tweezers, or your kitchen tongs to transfer small objects from one place to another. Pom poms work really well for this fine motor activity. Your child can sort them by color or decorate a printable mat like the one pictured here. Another option is to have them transfer from a bowl to fill an empty ice tray.
6. Building LEGOS and Blocks
Chances are you have some sort of small building blocks in your home. LEGO bricks are a great manipulative for your child to work their fingers! Building with them will help your child build up the muscles in their fingers and hands.
7. Eyedropper Art
Eyedropper art makes for such a fun and creative fine motor activity. There are a couple of ways to do it. You can use watercolors or food coloring to dye cups of water, and then use a dropper to create art on watercolor paper. Another idea is to drop the colorful water onto coffee filters, and watch how the colors blend.
8. Poking into Holes
This fine motor skill activity is so easy to do at home. All you need is a colander from the kitchen and pipe cleaners or straws. The practice is having your child put the pipe cleaners or straws through the holes. If you don't have a colander, you can use a box grater (carefully), or even an old container that you've poked holes through. This could be a milk carton, butter tub, etc.
There are so many great beginner weaving projects to be found online. As a fine motor activity at home, you can use paper or yarn to have your child weave with. Paper weaving is great for younger children. Once they've picked up the idea, you can progress to more difficult crafts and activities, like weaving a basket or on a loom. An easy at-home weaving option is to take a paper plate and cut out the inside. Use a hole punch to make holes around the inner circle. Tie a manageable piece of yarn to the plate and let your young learner weave 'til their hearts content.
10. Finger Paint or Paint with Q-Tips
Painting is so much fun for young kids, but did you know that it's also great for developing fine motor skills? The key to this is to make sure they're using their fingers, either directly, or by painting with q-tips or small paint brushes. For more of a challenge, create your own paint-by-number at home with card stock and a marker.
Supplies for Developing Fine Motor Skills at Home
Here are even more fine motor activities to do at home.