6 Fun Activities to Help Build Fine Motor Skills in Your Preschooler
When you think of important facets of your child’s early education, motor skills may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But fine motor skills—those that involve the delicate muscles of the wrist, hands, and fingers—are critical in helping children learn important skills like gripping pencils properly and handwriting.
We’ve gathered a list of 6 of our favorite fine motor activities that are easy to implement at home and will help your child build strength in their fingers and hands.
Water Drop Coloring
Put the crayons away and let your little learner brighten up the pages of his or her coloring book with colored water. Use food dye to color small cups of water, then give your child an eye dropper or pipette and let them drop colors onto the page (you may need to place your coloring page on a cookie sheet to catch any runoff). The act of squeezing the pipette to draw up and release water is great for building strength in the fingers.
Who doesn’t love the super satisfying feeling of letting play dough squish through your fingers? It just so happens that this malleable substance is oh-so perfect for building fine motor skills. Encourage your child to lay the dough on a table and roll it into a rope. Give them a safety knife or scissors and let them cut the rope into smaller segments. Have them pick up a single segment at a time with oversized tweezers and see who can be the first to drop all their rope pieces into a cup.
You can also bring your imagination into the mix. Pretend the dough is cookie dough and use a rolling pin to flatten it before cutting with cookie cutters. Help your child collect sticks and rocks from your yard and use the dough as the base. Push twigs and rocks into the dough’s surface to create your very own forest. The possibilities are endless!
Pipe Cleaner Snakes (and Noodle Necklaces)
This activity is best suited for older preschoolers as it involves using plastic beads and we certainly want to avoid a choking risk.
Tie a knot in the end of a pipe cleaner (alternatively, you can string a larger bead on for your child to act as a stopper). Have your child string plastic beads onto the pipe cleaner until they have created a “snake”. They can make a repeating pattern or go crazy and make a colorful snake…the choice is theirs!
Another version of the stringing activity is the tried-and-true macaroni necklace many of you may remember from your youth. You can kick this activity up a notch by coloring the pasta before the children start stringing. We love these easy-to-follow-instructions from Make and Takes on how to make a rainbow noodle necklace.
No early childhood education room is complete without a set of lacing cards. In this activity, children pass a string or shoelace through holes punched around a cut out shape.
While you can buy a set of lacing cards (we love this fun set!), you can easily make a set at home. The people over at Living Life & Learning have created a ton of wonderful, printable lacing cards you can download for free. Simply print them off, laminate them, and punch holes in the cards.
Clothespins On a Box or on a Line
This activity couldn’t be easier! All you need is a sturdy box and bag of clothespins. Have your child clip the clothespins to the edge of the box, and see how many they can squeeze in. The act of pinching the clothespin is great for fine motor skills and, as a bonus, maneuvering the clips onto the edge of the box builds hand-eye coordination.
You can also set up a child-height clothesline in your home, tying a rope or string between a doorway or from two heavy pieces of furniture (do not use bar stools or anything that could fall over). Let your child practice hanging their socks from the clothesline using clothespins.
This fun activity by Mess for Less will keep children occupied for hours! All you need are dyed q-tips (the instructions for how to dye them can be found in the link) and straws in coordinating colors. Cut the straws into segments and have your child match the colored q-tip with a straw segment of the same shade. Your child can then insert the q-tip into the straw to create a matching pair.
These activities are creative, open-ended ways for children to improve their fine motor strength through sensory play, creating art, and engaging in a bit of fun competition. As you can see, working the fine muscles of the hand doesn’t have to be hard—in fact, it can be quite fun!
Thanks for reading,
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