child writing

7 Fun Ideas for Improving Fine Motor Skills in Children

Overview: Interested in improving fine motor skills in your kids? Use these tips to help them improve their ability, making it easier for them to learn how to write.

Are you a parent who wants to know how to improve the fine motor skills of your child? Are you concerned that your kids won’t have the finger strength to hold a pencil correctly due to their use of electronic devices?

Rest assured, there are many activities you can do with your child to help them in this area.

7 Fun Ideas for Improving Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are small muscle movements of the fingers in coordination with the eyes. When teaching fine motor skills, try to be patient and understanding with your child.

Fine motor skills take more time and practice to develop than we adults might think. Sometimes we forget just how many of these skills need to be learned – thinking instead that our child should automatically know how to do these tasks.

It’s definitely worth taking the time to practice these skills with our children. The more developed our children’s fine motor skills become, the easier they will be able to learn to write.

Like gross motor skills, fine motor skills develop in a consistent manner but at an uneven pace. At times, your child will pick up skills rapidly, and at other times their skill development will be delayed.

Most children who struggle with mastering certain fine motor skills do not have a serious problem. If your child is significantly behind his peers in multiple aspects of fine motor development or if he regresses, losing previously acquired skills, then you should seek medical advice.

It is more fun for your child to learn while they play. Try to incorporate activities like dress-up to teach zipping and buttoning; making cards to practice writing or tracing skills; cutting and pasting to make a project other than just a writing on a plain piece of paper, etc.

Be creative and have fun!

7 Fun Ideas for Improving Fine Motor Skills in Children:

1 – Cutting – Use a thick black line to guide cutting the following:

  • A fringe from a piece of paper
  • Cut off corners of a piece of paper
  • Cut along curved lines
  • Cut lines with a variety of angles
  • Cut figures with curves and angles
  • Cut clay with blunt scissors

2 – Placing and Pasting

  • Place a variety of forms (eg. blocks, felt, paper, string, yarn, cereal, cotton) on outlines
  • Match shapes, color, or pictures to a page and paste them within the outlines

3 – Tracing and Coloring

  • Use a thick black line if needed
  • Trace and then color shapes, increasing the size and complexity gradually
7 Fun Ideas for Improving Fine Motor Skills

4 – Self-Care Skills

  • Buttoning and unbuttoning
  • Lacing
  • Tying
  • Fastening Snaps
  • Zipping
  • Carrying
  • Using a screwdriver
  • Locking and unlocking a door
  • Winding a clock
  • Opening and closing jars
  • Vacuuming a rug
  • Rolling out dough or other simple cooking activities
  • Washing plastic dishes
  • Sweeping the floor
  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Lacing Cards
→ Related Content: How to Teach Preschool at Home and Have Fun Doing It

5 – Finger Tracing

  • Many times when a child is unable to do a worksheet, it helps to trace the pattern with his finger before he tries it with a pencil.
  • Have the child trace a pattern in sand, cornmeal, finger paint, etc. The textures give the child kinesthetic feedback.
Improving Fine Motor Skills in Children

 6 – Pre-Writing

  • Dot-to-dot drawings of pictures, objects, shapes, numbers, letters, etc.
  • Typing exercises
  • Tile and mosaic work
  • Folding activities
  • Fine coloring
  • Have the child do repetitious strokes (with an increasingly smaller writing tool) similar to those found in manuscript or cursive letters. Emphasize accuracy, spacing and flow or rhythm. Sometimes doing it to music helps.

7 – Writing

  • Have the child write in the air and in front of his eyes (arm outstretched) with his finger.
  • To increase his tactile awareness, have him trace over letters on textured surfaces. Have him manipulate 3-dimensional letters when blindfolded.
  • When a writing tool is introduced, we should teach letters which involve similar strokes first (moving simple to complex). Next, combinations of letters in short words, sentences and finally spontaneous writing. (Remember to use words your child can read).

Books Which Improve Fine Motor Skills

Did you know you can actually give your child books to read which will help improve his or her fine motor skills? Books which require your child to use his fingers to do more than just turn the pages are an excellent way to help your child’s dexterity to improve.

Here are my suggestions:

There’s a Mouse About the House – This interactive book is so much fun: first, take the little cardboard mouse out of the pocket on the front cover. Then, as you read the story about the mouse’s adventure, follow the dotted line and move the mouse through the slot on each page. And – this book is not just fun, it’s educational, too. Holding the mouse is like holding a pencil. It teaches fine motor skills to little fingers. And following the dotted line encourages early writing skills as well.

Peek Inside series (Ages 3 and up) – A very simple non-fiction, lift-the-flap book for small children, packed with holes to peek through, flaps to peek beneath and snippets of factual information about what happens when night falls. Part of a bestselling series where children get to peek inside burrows, inside barns, under leaves, and even inside the zoo, to learn many fun facts about our world.

Wind-up Books (Ages 3 and up) – Winding is a fun way for little ones to build the muscles in their fingers. With these interactive books, children can play and tell stories. Have your child wind up the train and watch it whizz around the tracks.

Look Inside series (Ages 5 and up) – The Look Inside series is for slightly older kids. This non-fiction lift-the-flap book series features bold illustrations, simple explanations to complex questions and over 60 flaps to lift.

Fold and Fly series (Ages 6 and up) – If you have a more active child who doesn’t want to sit still long enough to work on his fine motor skills, consider checking out one of these Fly and Fold books. The reward for spending time folding the airplanes, bugs, pterosaurs, or spaceships is that he can then run around throwing his creation in the air. It’s super fun to set up contests where you compete with your child to see whose object will fly the farthest. And the whole time the folding is happening, fine motor skills are being developed. So much fun!

See Inside series (Ages 7 and up) – Everything in the Universe is made up of just 118 chemical elements, all of which are listed in the Periodic Table. Lift the flaps in this informative book and discover which elements are crucial to life, which are smelly, explosive or radioactive and lots more. An essential introduction to the building blocks of chemistry, with over 125 flaps.

Advanced Lift the Flap series (Ages 7 and up) – Find out all about atoms, what they are and where they come from – and how these tiny particles combine to make up EVERYTHING in the universe (including you). Packed with intriguing facts, this is an entertaining and accessible introduction to key scientific ideas. The Advanced Lift the Flap series is ideal for improving general knowledge and guaranteed to keep fact-loving, question-asking children entertained for hours. This series is ideal for older children who still need help developing their fine motor skills.

Origami (Ages 3-11) – An internationally renowned origami master recaptures the prehistoric allure of dinosaurs with this new series of original models. Twenty famous and lesser-known creatures from the Mesozoic era include a tyrannosaurus, apatosaurus, pterodactylus, dimetrodon, quetzalcoatlus, and protoceratops.

John Montroll designed these striking models with beginning paperfolders in mind. Based on his famous single-square, no-cuts, no-glue approach, they range from the very easy to the low-intermediate level. Each model features helpful diagrams and easy-to-follow instructions.

Embroidery (Ages 7 and up) – These clever kits contain everything you need to embroider, frame, and hang various designs. The 16-page Usborne book included gives you simple, step-by-step instructions showing you exactly what to do at every step of the way. Choose from a fairy, flamingo, llama, mermaid, owl, or unicorn.

Sticker Books (All ages) – Sticker books are excellent ways for kids to develop their fine motor skills and they’re also so much fun! In this particular book, kids will journey to the depths of the ocean and meet some of its deadliest, strangest, and most incredible animals with this awesome sticker book. From polar seas to tropical reefs, you’ll meet humpback whales, hammerhead sharks, lionfish, and many more. Complete them using the stickers, and read the descriptions to find out fascinating facts about each one.

Book & Jigsaw Puzzle Combo (all ages) – Usborne has book and puzzle combos that range from 30 pieces up to 300 pieces. They are excellent ways for kids to develop their fine motor skills while learning something at the same time. Check them out!

Now that you know how to improve fine motor skills in your child, go ahead and get started. Incorporating a few of these activities into your child’s day will go a long way in building their strength, improving their skills, and increasing their confidence.

Question: Do you have any other suggestions for improving fine motor skills in children? Please leave a comment below.

7 Fun Ideas for Improving Fine Motor Skills

12 thoughts on “7 Fun Ideas for Improving Fine Motor Skills in Children”

  1. My almost 5 year old has no interest in coloring or writing letters. He can’t seem to hold the pencil right, so I ordered claw pencil grips on ebay. Basically they hold the fingers in the correct position. I also am going to let him write while standing at a white board rather than sitting at his desk all the time. He is very smart, but doesn’t want to write. I hope that using kinesthetic and tactile learning strategies will enable me to successfully home school him!

    1. Good idea. The other thing is that at age 5 he might just not be ready to write. Continue working with him slowly in this area – but you might want to do most of his learning through hands-on projects and with him orally answering questions rather than with him having to write them down. Have fun with it!

  2. Thank you, it helps to have someone tell me that he doesn’t have to do everything conventionally. Today, for motor skills, we worked on cutting with scissors and doing a puzzle. He enjoyed this and I discovered that he is very good at puzzles!! after we put it together the first time, he took it apart and kept reassembling it over and over by himself. He was more also willing to write on the chalkboard. I didn’t even try to make him sit at his desk and I refuse to feel guilty about that at this point as long as he’s learning! We’re having fun because I have to do more hands on activities with him. With my daughter, she was mostly willing to sit in her chair and write her letters in the workbook. This boy is a different ball game, but I’m enjoying this:) I think I’ll keep coming back to this article for ideas:)

  3. How about using the manual alphabet. Have fun learning to write (as it were) in the air. This is also great for spelling and reading skills!!

  4. I like that you pointed out that you can consider allowing your child to trace and then color shapes in order to improve their fine motor skills. With that in mind, I’ll be sure to download activities and books that must be colored soon. My 5-year son is always in front of a phone to play games. We don’t see him playing with his toys anymore. What I want is to reduce his screen time and improve the way his body functions.

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