Children's Activities, Children's Development

Fine Motor Activities for Young and Older Students

Fine motor skills are the coordinated movements of the small muscles in the hands. These skills enable a person to perform precise actions and are important for everyday tasks like using tools, writing, and buttoning clothing. Developing these skills is essential for coordination and self-care.

Many children experienced around 2 years of disruptions to in-person learning. For some, it may have led to a lack of time and opportunities to cut, glue, and create with the hands. 5th grade teachers might notice that it takes longer for students to cut out pieces of a map. Parents could observe their young one struggling with backpack zippers and managing lunch bags. If so, focusing on developing fine motor skills means providing ample opportunities to practice.

Fine motor activities are a great way for children of any age to develop hand-eye coordination and hand strength. Doing activities with the hands helps students develop important skills such as handwriting, cutting with scissors, and self-reliance. All it takes for many is exposure to tasks and practice, practice, practice!

There are many fun and engaging ways for preschoolers to elementary aged children to practice fine motor skills. Here are 6 quick ideas:

  1. Paper crafts: Make paper airplanes or origami. Provide kids with scissors and paper in all shapes and sizes.
  2. Threading beads: Use colorful beads, thread, and yarn. Learners can create patterns on bracelets, necklaces, and key chains.
  3. Dough creations: Make your own dough. Have students help measure ingredients and knead the dough. Provide cookie cutters and rolling pins to form shapes and figures.
  4. Identify it games: Create a sensory box filled with small items. Encourage little ones to close their eyes and try to identify the items as they pick them up and feel them in their hands.
  5. Chenille stems (pipe cleaner) art: Give each student different colors of chenille stems and have them twist and bend them into shapes, animals, letters or anything else they can imagine.
  6. Button Sort: Fill a large bin with a variety of buttons. Children can sort the buttons by shape, color, size or any other category they chose.
  7. Directed drawing: Teacher, parents, or a video provides step-by-step instructions on how to draw a picture. Breaking the drawing process into small manageable pieces produces amazing works of art.

There are many activities that promote fine motor growth at school and at home. With repeated practice kids will be on their way to developing these skills. Children will feel success as they improve not only coordination, but self-confidence and creativity.

Stephanie Standley M. Ed. is a mom, educator, writer, and outdoor enthusiast. She received her undergraduate degrees in Sociology and Psychology as well as a Master of Education-Literacy from the University of San Diego. Stephanie has 12+ years of classroom experience as a teacher and currently supports students in Special Education. She is inspired to use evidence-based practices to educate children in creative and engaging ways.