Specialist Play Service - Development of fine motor skills through play

Importance of fine motor skills

Fine motor skills involve the use of the small muscles that control the hand, fingers, and thumb. Hand skills can include:

  • Grasping & releasing objects.
  • Isolating a finger to push a button.
  • Picking up small items with finger & thumb (pincer grip).

It’s important to start working with children on building their fine motor skills early on. Fine motor skills will develop and improve as they move through childhood. It just takes the right kind of practice. Some children may struggle with performing tasks that use their fine motor skills. This can cause them to become frustrated and upset when they can’t complete every-day tasks. For example, a child may have a difficult time to build towers with blocks, which could lead them to lose interest and need adult support to develop this skill.

Here are some great activities to help build your child’s fine motor skills that are fun, engaging and can help children progress their fine motor skills.

Academic activities

  • Colouring/drawing
  • Cutting
  • Play dough activities
  • Sorting pom poms/objects with play tweezers

Self-care activities

  • Eating and cutting food
  • Brushing hair and teeth
  • Unfastening large zips

Free play activities

  • Building with Lego and blocks
  • Puzzles
  • Dressing dolls
  • Threading with pasta/beads/cotton reels
  • Drawing with chalk/crayons

Other ideas to support fine motor development 

  • Play dough/pastry making/cooking
  • Magnetic blocks
  • Scrunching paper/space blankets
  • Feely bag games for example: bricks/large beads/toothbrush/ball
  • Wooden inset puzzles
  • Posting for example: cereal into bottles/pasta/raisins/rice
  • Duplo
  • Hand and finger rhymes (twinkle, little star/tommy thumb/finger puppets/
  • wind the bobbin up
  • Exploring sand or flour with a finger

Fine motor skills gradually build for children as they do activities to help strengthen their muscles and coordination. Make sure to keep the fine motor activities fun for your child! The more they want to play and explore with activities that build their fine motor skills, the more precise their movements will be.

Useful links