The Secret To Making Fine Motor Skills
Activities For Children Fun

Fine motor skills activities for children are the best way to ensure proper development and practice of fine motor skills to promote the most functional use of a child's hands.

You see, normal development DEMANDS that children are able to accurately and effectively use the small muscles (intrinsic muscles) in their hands. These intrinsic muscles will be used for the rest of their lives and for essential functional activities.

Childhood is the critical time to properly develop these muscles, and I think you might be shocked (unless you are an OT) at how many children we, as Occupational Therapists, see in the schools and clinics every single day who have significant delays in fine motor skills. I must add it is nobody's "fault"... it just is. These are skills that simply may need some extra work to develop optimally, that's all. So, please... no blaming the child or the parents. Deal? Thanks!

The building of fine motor skills in children will enable them to perform a variety of important functional tasks. These include:

  • tying shoes
  • zipping and unzipping
  • buckling and unbuckling
  • writing legibly and without significant muscle fatigue
  • playing games that require precise hand and finger control
  • drawing, painting, and coloring
  • manipulating buttons and snaps
  • putting small objects together
  • doing puzzles
  • making crafts
  • using scissors
  • manipulating small objects such as coins
  • opening and closing objects
  • picking up and holding onto small objects
  • developing and maintaining an effective and proper pencil grip
  • pinching objects between fingers
  • using locks and keys
  • being able to isolate finger movements (i.e., using one finger at a time, such as in playing the piano or typing)
  • turning things over or turning pages of a book
  • holding and using utensils properly and effectively
  • screwing and unscrewing
  • doing ANYTHING that requires small precise hand and finger movements

    Certainly you can now see the importance of fine motor skills and the impact it would have if not developed properly! If your child is struggling to do any of these aforementioned activities and you are concerned that they may have poor fine motor skills, then it is time to practice, enhance, and evaluate these skills.

    I just want to mention, there is a very high correlation between children with sensory processing disorders and children with a delay in fine motor skills. It is often a big part of sensory integration therapy and one of the main reasons children are initially referred to an Occupational Therapist. Please understand, I am NOT saying they HAVE a sensory processing disorder if they have poor fine motor skills... fine motor delays may be an isolated issue.

    Properly Developed Fine Motor Skills Are Important To Every Day Living

    The ability to complete functional activities that require these skills will follow you your entire life. So, I beg of you... if you see signs of fine motor difficulties in any child, please address it with a teacher, Occupational Therapist, or through educating yourself (as you are now... yay you!) on how to improve fine motor skills.

    Speaking of improving fine motor skills, here is what you have been waiting for... how do we do it? Truthfully, you will see the greatest improvement through targeted activities that are practiced, practiced, and practiced some more! True, that is the "therapy" of it... but, I always believe in making that targeted practice fun and varied! It really NEEDS to be for the development of the various muscles, and so the child doesn't get bored, frustrated, or resistant to engaging in these therapeutic, skill building activities.

     Activities To Improve Fine Motor Skills

    The best way to do this with children is... Toys and Games, of course! Below, you will find some great games and toys that are both fun, challenging, and great for developing those critical fine motor skills.

    But, before I show you those, I must share my all-time favorite activity for hand strengthening and fine motor skill development. It's easy to do anytime/anywhere, it's fun, it works on a variety of hand skills, and THE KIDS LOVE IT! It is... Theraputty! Ah, for those of you who don't know, Theraputty is a strong silly-putty-like material that probably every Occupational Therapist uses. It comes in a tub and has different "strengths" to it (more or less resistance when squeezed). It is one of the best inventions ever!

    Okay, here is my favorite activity (if you are an OT, don't give it away, shhhh)... Stretch the Theraputty out and hide coins or any tiny objects in it. Then mush it up into a ball. It is now the child's job to pull the putty apart and find all the objects you put in there (oh, make sure you count how many you put in there, because the child WILL keep asking if they found them all). Just a hint... children can even do this whole "game" themselves; hiding the objects AND finding them. Or do it with friends that come over to play. And, if they need extra incentive... you can use all those pennies you have kicking around the house and tell them if they do a good job finding them all 3 times in a row they get to keep them! Bribery...*ahem*, I mean REWARDS, are always a great way to get a child to do his "therapy".

    Or, here is another idea;  Holly, an OT from a school in New York gave me this great suggestion...

    When using putty I will sometimes put "googley" eyes in it and when you shake the putty you can hear the eyes wiggle, the kids love it and enjoy the silly challenge. 

    (Thanks Holly, I love it!)

     

    So, I just want to emphasize that the games and activities we use for therapy need to be fun and creative! That's what OT is all about... finding meaningful activities to enhance and develop skills. Building fine motor skills in children CAN be fun (and should be)!

    So, use playdoh, silly putty, Theraputty, kids scissors, beads, crafts, markers, crayons, learn to dress dolls, puzzles, paints and paintbrushes, finger paints, pencil grips (help you hold your pencil correctly), mazes, coloring books, "quiet books", pegboards, or ANYTHING you can possibly think of, to get those hands and fingers workin'!


    Visit The SPD Fine Motor Store

     


    Finally, as promised... here are some of my favorite toys and games to use as fine motor skills activities for children. Who said therapy can't be FUN?

  •  

     

    Do You Have Any Insights About Fine Motor Skills?

    If you have any comments about fine motor skills, then share it with the readers of Sensory-Processing-Disorder.com

    Enter Your Title

    Tell Us Your Story![ ? ]

    Upload 1-4 Pictures or Graphics (optional)[ ? ]

    Add a Picture/Graphic Caption (optional) 

    Click here to upload more images (optional)

    Author Information (optional)

    To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

    Your Name

    (first or full name)

    Your Location

    (e.g., City, State, Country)

    Submit Your Contribution

    Check box to agree to these submission guidelines.


    (You can preview and edit on the next page)

    What Other Visitors Have Said

    Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

    My 8 year old is struggling at school. 
    My 8 year old is in Year 4 and he's really struggling in his studies.From infant his teachers have always called me in or sometimes at parent's evening …

    HAND WRITING PROBLEM... 
    My child name Malhar's hand writing is very poor... i saw your site and read articles. i think he has motor development problems. pls suggest me exercise …

    Thiru nagan 
    i work with children who need to develop motor skills. there is a free online game called TETRIS which involves placing blocks correctly in a limited …

    Mrs J. Bird 
    My dad is 87 and in a nursing home because he has dementia, but he needs stimulation to keep him occupied but not to0 childish to offend him. I have tried …

    Fine motor skills  
    I have a five year old boy he has auditory processing disorder and sensory issues with fine motor/gross motors skills,he is having a hard time holding …

    Cotton Ball Race and Other Ideas 
    The occupational therapist at the elementary school where I work taught me these activities. (Sadly for us, she retired to take care of her new granddaughters...) …

    Holding a pencil with their fist 
    Why do children hold a pencil with their fist?

    Elisabeth Wharton, MOTR/L 
    I am an occupational therapist who has been working as an OT for over 25 years. For the past 20 years I have been working for a public school system. …

    Helping a 2nd Grader with Fine Motor Skills 
    I teach 2nd grade and have one child that has really bad handwriting. I've tried to help him improve but I don't think it's that he doesn't know letter …

    Resource  
    Hello I really love your site i am a mom of 2 year old that has SPD. I would like to recommend a website that sells a lot of stuff that focus on sensory …

    Fine Motor Activity 
    My son will be 3 in November, and he was diagnosed with speech delays and sensory processing disorder. To practice our fine and gross motor skills, he …

    SPD with excellent fine motor skills?!? 
    My son is 3 and just got diagnosed with Sensory Disorder. We will begin therapy with an OT on Tuesday, 2X a week for an hour each time. When we had him …

    PRITI MEHTA Prayosha play center 
    To develop fine motor skills you can give different activities such as- Give different pulses to the child and ask him to separate. Give peas to peel. …

    It has taken us 4 years to get diagnosis for our son who is now 6  
    When our son first started walking at 14 months he was always falling over and bumping into things, which at first we thought he will grow out of this. …

    Auto Mechanics 
    My 4 yr old has fine motor skill problems. He will not color,scribble, anything the school wants him to do. I have a friend who is a mechanic. One day …

    Lisa 
    Some of the activities that we've used at the preschool where I work build fine motor in a fun way. Place a coat hanger at the childs' level. Place …

    Is my son to old to help? 
    To summarize: My son is 18 yrs. old. Diagnosed with processing disability in first grade, Not a high IQ. In resource classes thru out his schooling. …

    Mommy 
    My 5 year old has trouble with fine motor skills. We bought pasta noodles in different shapes. She would sort and count the pasta and we would take the …

    How would a 2 year old use her fine manipulative skills whilst putting on Velcro-close shoes!? 
    Well, how would they? using their hands of course but how would they use their hands? and why?

    Help With Pen/Pencil Grasp? 
    Lucas is 4 and has started JrK. He is really enjoying it although having a tough time with writing skills. He is doing OT and school ready skills with …

    Handwriting 
    My 12 year old boy has beautiful handwriting but he holds the pencil awkwardly and he presses very hard. We have tried all kinds of gadgets and have tried …

    Visual Art Teacher's comments 
    I teach art in a K-2 school, in a very affluent area. All of the teachers have commented on the lack of fine motor skills in some of the children, especially …

    He liked sports and not crafts so I had to get creative with FMS. 
    My youngest child presented with moderate fine motor skill delay in JK, alhtough he frequently was exposed to scissors, playdough etc. I was very surprized …

    Motor skill activity for 3-4 year olds for language learning Not rated yet
    How can i create a motor skill activity for 3,4years for language learning? am a teacher i would like to help some of my students. Thanks.

    Click here to write your own.

    Finger Calisthenics  Not rated yet
    Hello, My name is Greg Irwin. I first started exercising my fingers in college to help me pass a piano proficiency exam which was required for music …

    My son Lennox Not rated yet
    lennox is very unique he is one of four children and is the only one that is left handed and really struggles with fine motor activities such as cutting …

    5 year old, in reception , fine motor skills Not rated yet
    I felt so much better after reading this. I am so stressed out at the moment with my son's fine motor skills. He is been going to OT since he is 3 years …

    Early Childhood Special Education Teacher in training Not rated yet
    Another great idea to improve fine motor skills is to go to "Noodles" restaurant and ask for a pair of chopsticks and chopstick helpers. Allow the child …

    Teacher Not rated yet
    Racing across the floor on hands and knees holding a straw and blowing a little puff ball all around. Using coffee stirrers, poke and transfer into …

    Teacher Not rated yet
    When I was a little girl my parents would have me shred construction paper or magazine pages. The smaller the pieces the higher the therapy intensity on …

    Taekwondo and bran Not rated yet
    I have been writing for a while in this pages because I have found the support and understanding from strangers who I call 'MY Sensory brotherhood because …

    What if the child is resistent to even the most FUN games you can come up with? Not rated yet
    I have a four year old that avoids using his hands for anything. (Even simple self-care.) He resists fine motor activities very strongly. No matter …

    about my process with my son Not rated yet
    Hello again, my son used to love play soccer and man he really scored! we were very proud and supported his wishes to play in the team. Last year, …

    Life Skills Instructor Not rated yet
    I have a woman who needed practice with fine motor skills. Among the techniques I have used to help her with this area is playing the Nintendo Wii bowling …

    Peanut Butter Playdough and Fun With Chalk Not rated yet
    These are two very fun activities for kids that help to build better fine motor skills. Peanut Butter Playdough: 1 cup peanut butter …

    Music help with Fine Motor Skills Not rated yet
    I have a 11 year old boy. He was found to have Low Muscle Tone when he was 2 years old. His writing is very messy and he tires easily so tries to get …

    I LOVE YOUR WEBPAGE!! KG TEACHER Not rated yet
    Hi, I'm a Kg Teacher and just googled for activities for my 2 yr old son. I found GREAT ideas to play with my son and use them at school as well. Now I …

    Paraeducator Not rated yet
    I have used empty spice containers with the holes in the top and cut straws and coffee stir sticks for kids to pick up and drop through the holes.

    Preschool/Sp.Ed. teacher Not rated yet
    Don't know if you have these listed on your site or not I did a quick check and didn't see these listed but I may have missed them. You have good ideas …

    Learning To Write Not rated yet
    My son was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder last March at the age of 4. Since we received a diagnosis his progress has been remarkable. He …

    Click here to write your own.

    Related Resources

    Fine motor development chart  - Use this easy-to-understand fine motor development chart (ages 0-5) to see if YOUR child is delayed in his fine motor skills. Find out if an early intervention or OT referral is needed.

    Preschool, toddler, and infant fine motor activity ideas - Great list of preschool, toddler, and infant fine motor activities to build, enhance, and improve your child's fine motor skills. Fine motor development starts early - get those hands moving!

    Handwriting Without Tears - Improve your child's handwriting skills; Handwriting Without Tears is an excellent program to use with any child, especially children with a sensory processing disorder

    Pre-writing activities for preschool children - Practical, fun, and simple pre-writing activities for preschool children that will foster and encourage proper fine motor development. Use these ideas and products to get them ready to write!

    Pre-scissor skills activities - Great ideas for pre scissor skills activities are a fun way to get your toddler's fine motor skills ready for scissor practice and successful scissor use.

    Click here for more great sensory integration activity ideas

    Click here for MORE sensory integration products

    Leave Fine Motor Skills Activities For Children And Return To The Sensory Processing Disorder Resource Center Home Page

    footer for Sensory Processing Disorder page

    Copyright ©  www.sensory-processing-disorder.com

    Contact Us / Site Map / Disclaimer / Privacy Policy