Encourage fine motor skill development with fun activities.

Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers to Do

by Jack John

Fine motor skills involve the small muscles of the hands that make dexterity possible. Activities like cutting, zipping zippers and tying shoelaces all require the use of fine motor skills. As adults, we usually take the ability to complete these tasks for granted, but for children, these tasks can be difficult to perform. Like the rest of the muscles of the body, the muscles that are required for fine motor skills have to be developed in order to use them appropriately. As a parent, encouraging the development of these muscles in your toddler will help him improve his dexterity and ability to complete such tasks.

Stringing Beads

Something as simple as stringing beads can help promote the development of fine motor skills in your toddler. To complete this activity, all you have to do is cut a piece of yarn to any length you desire. Tie a knot in one end of the yarn and wrap a piece of tape around the opposite end (the knot will prevent the beads from falling off the yarn and the tape will make it easier to thread the yarn through the hole in the bead). Offer your toddler beads with large holes in the center to make stringing easier, and help her feed the yarn through the hole. This activity works the small muscles of the hands, and you can turn her work of art into a necklace or bracelet for her to wear.

Tearing Paper

Before your toddler learns how to cut with scissors, he is going to need to have firm control over his fine motor muscles. Get him ready for using scissors by allowing him to tear pieces of paper. Show your toddler how to hold a piece of paper in both of his hands and illustrate how the motion your hands make when tearing the paper. Not only is this activity something your toddler will likely enjoy, but it will help him build those small muscles in his hands.


Another activity that will promote fine motor skill development is pinching. Show your toddler how to pinch her forefinger and thumb together. Once she has a firm grip of the motion, set out objects that she can pick up using the pinching motion of her fingers. Cotton balls, beads, balls and any other type of small object work well. Encourage your toddler to use that pinching motion to pick up the items and place them in a bowl, a glass or just move them from one location on a flat surface to another.

Playing with Clay

Most toddlers enjoy playing with clay. Aside from being enjoyable, this activity helps to foster those fine motor skills. As they tear apart the clay, form it into shapes and press it onto a flat surface, they are working the muscles in their hands. So give your child some clay, cookie cutters, rolling pins and any other items he may find fun to use with the clay and let him explore his creativity while building his fine motor skills.

About the Author

Jack John is a trained and experienced educator. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and a Master of Science in literacy education from LIU. He has been working since 2001 as a classroom teacher and one-to-one tutor, and writing since 2008.

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