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Fiddly Fingers

Activities to help develop fine motor skills for the under fives

So much of what we do each day relies on our fine motor skills. A baby clumsily grabbing for your necklace, a toddler learning to drink with a straw, or a pre-schooler starting to write their name are all putting their fine motor skills to use. So what exactly are they, and how can we help to develop them?

Motor skills is a term used to cover actions which require movement of muscles in our bodies. Gross motor skills involve moving the limbs to make large movements such as crawling, standing and walking. Fine motor skills are those that we use to make more precise movements using the smaller muscles found in our lips, hands, feet, fingers, toes and wrists. These are the movements that really help your child as they begin their early journey through life, as they are used constantly to write, cut and draw.

Simple activities with items you may already have at home will help your child to strengthen the muscles involved in fine motor movements, to practise their coordination and to develop specific skills such as holding smaller items.

Small children love putting things into containers, taking them out, posting or sorting activities.

  • Threading Beads – Good for: pincer grip, hand/eye coordination.
  • Vegetable Printing- Good for: strengthening wrist muscles and palm grip.
  • Playdough- Good for: strengthening all the muscles of the fingers, hands and wrists.
  • Clothes line – Good for: hand/eye coordination, pincer grip
  • Sewing – Good for: pincer grip, hand/eye coordination.

Other activities

  • Fastening buttons, zips and laces
  • Messy play
  • Painting and drawing
  • Mark making/treasure hunting/castle building in sand
  • Stacking cups
  • Making pom-poms
  • Posting/sorting games
  • Coil pots
  • Toy screwdrivers and screws or nuts and bolts

Natural and Found Materials are also great for fine motor play


Find out more here 

Or take a look at these videos that have lots of inexpensive and fun ideas, many of them using recycled materials 



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