Working on fine motor skills is a continuous process that lasts well into a child’s school-age years. Fine motor skills activities for preschoolers can become more fun and interactive for both the toddlers and the adults helping them. The activities can be made to be more helpful to develop motor skills as well as the child’s thinking and reasoning skills.
Plus, toddlers love to experience new things. Toddlerhood is to show little ones how to do simple activities. Not only will their curiosity be satisfied, they’ll also develop their fine motor skills in the process.
Try to find the right balance between activities that help kids feel confident, but also challenged.
Here are a few examples of fun and productive fine motor skills activities that do just that.
Playing with small wooden or plastic blocks is a time-tested and fun activity. Toddlers love to stack them up to create various shapes and enjoy tearing them down. Get creative and encourage them to knock down their buildings with balls or soft toys! Whatever it is, the act of carefully stacking blocks will help improve their hand-eye coordination and their confidence.
Stringing beads has been gaining more popularity recently as a fine motor development activity for preschoolers. This is partly because large beads made just for this purpose are now widely available. The job requires a bit more attention and precision from the toddler, but once they get going, they’ll have the satisfaction of having created something.
Nothing illustrates cause and effect more than opening and closing things. Whether it’s envelopes, birthday cards, doors, or drawers, toddlers can’t seem to get enough of the action. So why not play to their interest and give them an activity that involves opening and closing? You could take it to the next level and give them screw-top bottle caps to attach. This activity will require the toddler to use their fingers differently, which adds another dimension to the opening and closing process and is a great fine motor activity for toddlers.
Drawing and painting are great ways to give toddlers the chance to get the feel of holding a pen, pencil, or paintbrush. It helps with their dexterity and fine motor planning as they think about the next motion. The thing to do here is to show them how to hold it correctly and ask them to mimic you. In the beginning, you might save yourself a mess by having them paint with plain water on colored construction paper. They will understand quickly and before you know it they’ll be on their way to creating their own masterpieces!
It’s not only squirrels that enjoy stashing things; toddlers also enjoy this activity. A good one to try is to use either apples or oranges and a sectioned tray. Apart from figuring out which tray fits best, the child will also get a fine motor workout by handling them. After all, an apple or an orange is big for a toddler’s hands, but not too heavy. As they learn to negotiate each one, they are unwittingly exercising their hands and arms.
As with beading, using tweezers and tongs for activities is a bit more complex compared to some other fine motor skills tasks. However, the payoff is that it’s an excellent skill to develop. You can either introduce it as an activity or when it is time to clean up. Most toddlers do not like to clean up their toys after they’re done playing, so why not use tweezers or tongs to make a game out of cleaning up?
Perhaps it’s the combination of the physical act of sticking designs and pictures as well as the artistic license they get to enjoy, but kids love stickers. Playing with stickers can be as simple as applying them on a page or creating an activity such as matching different designs or characters.
A good approach to encouraging toddlers to participate in fine motor skills activities is introduce kids to an activity and let them pick the one they feel to be the most fun. Another thing to remember is that toddlers rarely stick with an activity for more than a few minutes. The trick is to be prepared for the next activity so that they can move on—and have fun!
Include children in picking up real or fake coins and stacking them in small piles. Make one stack with pennies, another one with dimes, and so on until you’ve sorted all the coins. Then it’s piggy bank time! It doesn’t have to be a traditional-looking piggy bank. There are plenty of distinctive coin holders out there (or you could make your own). Next, work with the child in dropping them into the bank. This type of activity is good for fine motor skills as well as to develop some basic math. You can start with larger coins and then work on smaller coins that can be more challenging. This is one activity that can help with coordination and fine motor development.
Anything to do with painting, sculpting, cutting, and drawing is always a hit with children of all ages, including preschoolers. Once they reach preschool age, there will be a noticeable difference in their enthusiasm. Part of the reason for this is because they can recognize the fruits of their labor a little better. Spending time cutting colored paper to look like flower petals and then attaching them to a straw to resemble a real flower can be an exhilarating experience for the young ones. The different skills included in holding scissors, drawing with a pencil or crayon, and placing each shape to create something creative is a fine motor activity that preschoolers love.There are safe scissors made of plastic that can be used and the combination of drawing patterns and cutting them is an amazing exercise in fine motor skills, not to mention, fun. What all these activities have in common is that their fine motor development is improving with various activities without them even realizing it.
Since pick-up-sticks requires a good amount of focus and dexterity, this game is an excellent brain as well as a fine motor skill activity for preschoolers. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about competition, especially if the child is shy or afraid of losing. The game can always be introduced as just a fun activity.Putting together puzzles is another way a preschooler can develop not only fine motor skills but problem-solving skills as well. Since this activity calls for recognizing different shapes and thinking outside the box, the preschooler will feel a real sense of accomplishment when the project is done.
Not all children develop physically and cognitively in the same way or at the same speed. If you’re curious about development milestones for preschoolers, the American Academy of Pediatrics has guidance on what you should (or shouldn’t) expect from kids aged 3 to five years old.