With technology and electronic devices being such a prevalent part of today’s society, more and more children are struggling to develop essential fine motor skills.
Now, it is more important than ever to incorporate fine motor activities into your toddler’s daily routine at home.
The activities listed below will help strengthen the small muscles in your child’s hands and fingers, improve hand-eye coordination, and help them learn how to manipulate and interact with objects in their environment.
Examples of Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills help children to be more independent since they use these little muscles for so many daily tasks.
Here are a few examples of basic fine motor skills:
- Zipping up coats
- Tying shoe laces
- Brushing teeth
- Feeding themselves
While these may seem very basic to the average adult, young children may need a little extra practice to truly master these tasks.
Why Fine Motor Skills are Important for Child Development
Fine motor skills are essential for children to learn because they are the building blocks for larger, more complex skills. By implementing basic activities into your routine at home, you are encouraging the confidence and control necessary to master those more advanced tasks such as writing, typing, and drawing.
10 of the Best Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers
Here is a list of 10 easy and simple activities to help your toddler improve their fine motor skills.
While there are specific fine motor toys that can help improve these skills, they are definitely not necessary. Most of these activities can be completed just using items that are probably already in your home!
The best part about these activities is that toddlers really enjoy doing them!
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Creating and molding shapes with play dough is a great way to encourage little hands to get creative and strengthen those small muscles.
Have your toddler create shapes, form balls, or even put the pieces of dough together like a puzzle. You can also make letters or numbers out of the dough for a fun way to practice letter recognition and counting!
If you don’t have any at home, here is my favorite recipe for homemade playdough.
2) Scoop and Pour
Grab two bins (or kitchen pots), measuring cups, and a funnel and let your child scoop and pour literally anything in your kitchen. It can be rice, oatmeal, pasta, or even water! This is also a great sensory activity for toddlers!
This activity will help to improve your child’s dexterity and hand-eye coordination which are important fine motor skills. It also helps them with basic life concepts like cause and effect and self-awareness.
3) Scissor Time
I know this can be scary for many parents, but encouraging your child to use scissors provides a great foundation for pencil control.
Supervised scissor time really helps to improve bilateral coordination as your child has to hold the scissors in one hand and the paper in the other hand.
This activity can be very inexpensive also. Grab a piece of paper, draw a dotted line, and have your toddler cut along the line!
4) Clothespins Play
Clothespins are a wonderful tool for fine motor development! I am constantly buying these because we go through so many of them doing various activities!
A great activity to help with fine motor and learning ABCs is to write all the letters on the clothespins and have your child put them in order. They can either hang them from a string or clip them onto a cardboard box! If you write the letters on the cardboard box first, you can turn it into a fun and easy matching game!
5) Free Drawing
Providing toddlers with paper, markers, and crayons can help them develop their fine motor skills as they practice drawing lines and circles. While 2-year-olds may just scribble, as they progress through the fine motor milestones, they will become more advanced with their drawing skills.
As tempting as it is, you should try to avoid those enticing preschooler workbooks. Toddlers shouldn’t be learning to formally write at such a young age. Instead, let them draw and play freely because kids learn best through play.
6) Sponge Play
I am not sure what it is about sponges, but kids absolutely love them! Grab a couple of clean sponges, and a bucket of water, and let your kid play freely!
It might be a little messy but it is worth the muscle strength that they will gain from squeezing the sponge! If you’re a busy mom, this is a great activity to do during bath time!
Painting is one of those activities that has endless benefits! When toddlers paint, they are using their grip and hand muscles to control the brush. This helps improve dexterity and it is actually one of the first steps to learning proper writing.
Painting is also a great sensory activity and a way to encourage creativity in your toddler. You can use watercolors, finger paints, or even washable markers on paper or a big poster board!
Threading activities are so much fun for young children and they can be done with a lot of different materials.
For younger children, it is better to start with big items like old toilet paper rolls. As they get older and build up their dexterity and coordination, have them thread dry pasta onto a straw, or make a fruit loop necklace!
Puzzles are one of the best activities for toddlers. Not only does it help to improve their fine motor development, but it is also a great activity for cognitive development.
10) Building Blocks
This is one toy I would definitely recommend for every household. I truly believe building blocks are the ultimate toddler toy.
They are amazing for fine motor development, critical thinking, planning, hypothesizing, and so much more!
Building blocks are also a quantifiable way to see if your child is developing their fine motor skills properly. For example:
- By 15 months: Should be able to build a tower with 2 blocks
- By 18 months: Should be able to build a tower with 3-4 blocks
- By 2 years: Should be able to build a tower with 6-7 blocks
These activities are great for helping toddlers develop their fine motor skills.
Remember to keep it fun and let them explore freely! With enough practice, your toddler will be a pro in no time!