10 activities that will boost your preschooler's fine motor skills in no time

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At times, you turn on the TV or another electronic device to keep your rambunctious preschooler preoccupied. But the more time he spends on such devices, the less he uses his fine motor skills. So the best thing is for you to encourage him to do "screenless" activities that actually help boost his development.

Fine motor skills are what your preschooler uses to move the smaller muscles in his hands and fingers.

Your little one needs these for activities that require hand-eye coordination such as writing, playing with small objects, and for taking care of his daily needs through dressing and feeding himself.

Mastering control of his body and movements boosts your child’s confidence in himself, his actions, and in the world around him. It sets a good foundation for healthy cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Also, refining motor movements helps your child become independent in caring for himself. It also builds on his natural curiosity about everyday activities.

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Good fine motor skills allows your child to form an effective pencil grasp, which is crucial to having clear handwriting.

Building Fine Motor Skills

The preschool period is a critical time in building and refining motor skills. Once this window has passed, it becomes more challenging to gain these skills. That’s why it’s important to keep track of your preschooler’s physical development milestones.

To help him develop these, provide your child plenty of freedom and opportunities to practise and repeat different types of movements through fine motor activities for preschoolers.

1. Scooping Rice

Materials needed:

Two small bowls, uncooked rice, and a spoon.

What to do:

Place the bowls side by side, and fill one with uncooked rice. Give your child a spoon then ask him to scoop the rice grains into the empty bowl.

Create a challenge by using:

  • Different grains–barley, lentils, or anything else you have available
  • Different sized bowls
  • A smaller spoon to really work on his coordination

For an advanced challenge, have him move cotton balls using chopsticks.

2. Threading Pasta

Materials needed:

A handful of penne, sticky tape, and a piece of string.

Optional items: paper towels, hand sanitizer, resealable bags, and food colouring.

What to do:

Tape one end of the string to a flat surface. Then, have him thread the pasta through the free end.

(Tip: Wrap some tape around the free end of the string to make the threading process smoother for little hands.)

Once he’s done, help him tie the two ends of the string together. Ta-dah!

For a creative challenge, have your little one put the pasta into a sealable bag before threading. Squirt in some hand sanitizer and some food colouring. Seal the bag and have him shake the pasta around until they become coated in colour.

Spread the pasta onto paper towels to dry. Once dry, your child can start threading!

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3. Cardboard Cutting

Materials needed:

Used cereal or snack boxes and a pair of scissors.

What to do:

Cut rectangular strips of cardboard, long enough for your child to hold comfortably. Give him child-sized scissors and have him cut the strips in any way he wants.

To really get those little finger muscles working, draw lines on the cardboards for him to cut along. Have him save the cuttings for a future art project.

For a more advanced activity, draw different shapes on the cardboard and have your child cut them. 

4. Pouring

Materials needed:

A child-sized jug, water, a small tray, cups, and a permanent marker.

What to do:

Your child is often eager to do everyday tasks for himself. Tap into this by placing the jug of water and a cup on a tray. Have your little one pour himself a drink.

To step it up, mark a line on the cup so he knows until where he should pour. You may also use several cups.

Fire up his imagination while he pours by pretending he’s in a party!

5. Opening and Closing Containers

Materials needed:

Used plastic jars and boxes or bottles.

What to do:

By having a variety of containers to remove and return, you’ll give your child plenty of opportunities to practise and refine his skills.

For a fun extension, mix up the lids and have him match them to the right container. Or add a little scent inside to stimulate his senses!

6. Setting the Table

Materials needed:

A sheet of paper, a pen (for drawing an outline of a proper table setting); and your child’s plate, cup, and eating utensils.

What to do:

Make mealtimes more interactive by inviting your little one to set his own place at the table. To get him started, use a sheet of paper with an outline of where his plate, cup, and eating utensils are placed.

Encourage him to match his items to the outline.

Once he gets the hang of it, test out his skills by having him set the table on his own!

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7. Sorting Cutlery

Materials needed:

Several forks and spoons.

What to do:

Keep children’s interest in tableware by jumbling up the cutlery in a pile. Have your child place the forks and spoons into separate piles. When he’s done this, have him put the newly separated piles back in the drawers.

8. Pegging

Materials needed:

Some child-sized clothes pegs and a cardboard box.

What to do:

Prepare your preschooler for doing laundry with this activity. Grab a handful of pegs and begin by pegging around the edges of your box.

Have your little one open and close the pegs to his heart’s content. His fingers will get a good workout while he builds concentration, too!

9. Buttoning a Shirt

Materials needed:

Your child’s shirts/blouses that have buttons.

What to do:

Lay the clothes flat on a table. Show your child how to do and undo buttons. Ask him to do the same.

Too easy? Give his little muscles a challenge by having clothes that have different sized buttons.

10. Folding Clothes

Materials needed:

A few of your child’s clothes.

What to do:

He’s buttoned his clothes, and now its time to put them away! Lay out the tops on a table and show your little one how it’s done. Then, its his turn to fold his clothes and put them away. That’s laundry sorted for the day!

These simple fine motor activities for preschoolers are fun and engaging for young children. Best of all, you don’t need any fancy items–just a few things from around the house!

Do you have questions on this list of fine motor activities for preschoolers? Share with us in the comments!

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