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40 Fine Motor Activities: For Newborns Through to Adulthood

Are you looking for ways to improve your kid’s fine motor skills? These exciting fine motor activities hone these skills without kids even noticing!

Young children need to learn fine motor skills for many reasons, such as being able to pick things up, eating food, or zipping up their jackets. But how can we incorporate building this skill into our daily routine? What are fine motor activities?

Teaching fine motor skills might sound complex, but it’s actually very simple. There are many fun activities you can do with your baby, toddler, or older children to help hone fine motor skills.

Such developmental activities include fun crafts, sensory play, and heading into nature. Get ready to invest in your child’s fine motor skills with 40 exciting activities for all age groups.

What Are Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills refer to small muscle development, including muscles in your hands, feet, face, and other parts of the body (1). They include tiny movements that we make to do daily tasks. Fine motor skills, especially in the hands, set the foundation for writing, drawing, and crafting.

We use fine motor skills almost every moment of the day. Such skills involve coordination between the muscles, joints, nerves, and the brain. Typical activities that involve fine motor skills include typing on a keyboard, turning a door handle, playing a video game, or holding a pencil.

Children must begin developing their fine motor skills as young as three months. For a three-month-old baby, that will look like simply grabbing an object. For older children, such as seven, that will look like tying their shoelaces or learning to type.

Children need to develop their fine motor skills. These skills can help with communication, language, reading, writing, learning shapes and patterns, self-expression, and imagination (2). Ultimately, fine motor skills provide an opportunity for a child to experience, explore, and understand the world in a more interactive and creative way.

40 Fine Motor Skills Activities

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to incorporating fine motor skills activities into your child’s routine, don’t worry. We’ve compiled 40 amazing activities you can do with your kids to help them hone these essential skills.

Whether you’re looking for something for newborns or older kids, we have included various age-appropriate activities to suit you and your child. We’ll also let you know the ideal age for each activity so you can be sure it’s right for your child.

Fun Crafts, Puzzles, and Games

Crafts, puzzles, and games are so much fun for kids (and parents!), making them a great bonding and educational activity.

1. Ripping Paper

This is a super cheap and easy idea. All you need is some paper and glue. Colorful paper makes it even more fun! Give your child a few pieces of paper and encourage them to rip and crumple the paper up before gluing it to another piece of paper to create a beautiful mosaic.

Age group: 2-5

2. Paper Plate Animals

Get little ones to decorate a paper plate, creating their favorite animal. They can use markers or paint, cut out shapes for ears and tails, and glue on googly eyes. This is a great activity for fine motor skills as it involves cutting, drawing, and gluing.

Age group: 3-7

3. Beaded Necklaces

Making beaded jewelry is fantastic as it involves small muscle movements. Children must put beads onto a string to create necklaces, bracelets, or keychains. It also allows children to express themselves by making something beautiful.

Age group: 4+

4. Jigsaw Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles are great for pre-K kids and older ones — even for adults! You can find puzzles for all age groups, including babies. The wooden peg puzzles, such as the Melissa & Doug ones, are excellent for younger kids. Easier, four-piece puzzles are great for toddlers. As kids get older, you can upgrade to puzzles with more pieces. Before you know it, they’ll be doing 1,000-piece puzzles!

Age group: 9 months+

5. Lacing Cards

Lacing cards are great for strengthening fine motor muscles and improving hand-eye coordination. These cards are great for children as young as 12 months. You can buy lacing cards, such as the KLT Store option, or make your own by punching holes in cardboard and grabbing some old shoelaces.

Age group: 1-4

6. Shopping List Game

The Orchard Toys Shopping List game is a big hit for kids and parents! I cannot wait until my son is old enough to play this game, which I loved as a kid. It’s an excellent memory game but also involves fine motor skills as you must pick up small pieces and place them into your cardboard shopping trolley.

Age group: 3+

7. Fishing for Letters

This game has been around for years and continues to be loved by kids. The idea is simple — kids get a fishing rod with a magnet on the end. A game such as this helps children to fine-tune their motor skills by allowing them to catch fish using the rod. Additionally, the fish in the game have letters on them, making it a fun and educational game.

Age group: 3-7

8. Twister

Twister is a fantastic — and hilarious — game for older kids and a traditional bucket load of fun. It helps hone both gross and fine motor skills. Regarding fine motor skills, since kids have to balance through their hands and feet, Twister helps them develop these skills and use them fun and creatively.

Age group: 6+

Writing, Drawing, and Tracing

When it comes to fine motor skills, we often associate it with using a pen or pencil. These skills are crucial for writing and drawing, which is why we have compiled a list of eight fantastic activities that can help improve them.

9. Play Dough Writing

This is a great one for kindergarten kids and older. Writing activities are significant but can often be boring for kids. Spice it up a bit with a playdough writing activity.

Flatten a piece of colorful playdough onto a table and use a wooden skewer or the back of a spoon to practice letter writing. If your child can’t yet write letters, you can write them into the play dough and have them guess which letter it is.

Age group: 3-6

10. Pushpin Maze

This dexterity exercise is best for older kids, as it involves sharp pushpins. The parent or child can create a shape out of pushpins on paper, such as a circle or a letter. Then, they must draw the shape or letter inside the pushpin maze, allowing them to hone their small motor skills while practicing their letters, shapes, or numbers.

Age group: 6+

11. Sidewalk Chalk

Sidewalk chalk is an excellent thing to keep in the cupboard for warm, dry days. Not only does it provide hours of fun, but playing with chalk allows your child to build up their hand and finger strength, work on hand-eye coordination, and use their imagination.

Age group: 3-12

12. Alphabet Tracing

Give your child a workbook or sheets with dotted letters of the alphabet. Kids can trace the letters with a pencil or crayon, allowing them to work on fine motor skills while learning to recognize letters. This is a great foundational activity for learning to read and write. The Trace Letters: Alphabet Handwriting Practice is an excellent choice.

Age group: 3-7

13. Dot-To-Dot Pictures

Here’s another one that is a hit for younger kids and adults, too. Dot-to-dot pictures help children connect dots, working on both their numeracy skills and fine motor control. Ultimately, the connections will reveal a picture they can color in, frame, or keep tucked away in the book. If you’re interested in this activity, check out the School Zone – Numbers 1-25 workbook.

Age group: 3+

14. Squiggle Art

Ready for a piece of abstract art to hang on the wall? Squiggle Art is a fun activity for toddlers, older kids, and even teenagers. Provide a range of colorful pens, crayons, or paint, and get your child to draw squiggly lines and shapes. This helps them work on more abstract hand movements while encouraging creativity.

Age group: 3+

15. Cursive Writing

Many schools begin teaching cursive writing around the age of seven. Cursive writing is a style of handwriting where the letters flow together. While this wasn’t my favorite activity at school, it certainly helps with fine motor movements, concentration, and learning to perfect handwriting. You can get workbooks for practicing, like the Hippidoo Cursive Handwriting Workbook For Kids.

Age group: 7-10

16. Watercolor Resist Art

For this activity, get children to draw or write on white paper with a white crayon. Then, have them paint over it with watercolor paint. The crayon will resist the watercolor, creating a visible design. This activity not only aids in developing fine motor skills but also encourages creativity. Additionally, it provides a chance to learn some science concepts.

Age group: 5-10

Hygiene and Self-Care Skills

It’s not all about having fun here! Let’s get serious for a minute. Kids aren’t the most hygienic age group on the planet, but we’re here to change that.

Teaching hygiene and self-care skills have lifelong benefits. But as a child, it also helps develop fine motor skills, essential for doing basic exercises, like washing or brushing teeth, when they are older.

17. Brushing Teeth

First up, brushing teeth. It can take a while for a child to get comfortable with teeth brushing, but once you’ve mastered the basics, let them learn how to brush their own teeth. Squeezing toothpaste from the tube onto the brush, holding a brush, and scrubbing teeth all require fine motor control.

Age group: 3+ (although introduce teeth brushing as soon as your child has teeth)

18. Self-Feeding

Feeding oneself is a super important activity that kids should learn as soon as possible. Consider baby-led weaning from six months old, allowing your child to pick up their own food and use utensils to feed themselves. By 12 months, your child should be able to pick up food, feed themselves for most meals, and hold their own bottle or cup.

Age group: 6 months+

19. Washing Hands

Washing hands might seem like a mindless activity for adults, but it’s a significant skill to learn for kids. From age one, introduce your child to a hand-washing routine and implement it a few times a day so they are a pro by the time they head to preschool.

Age group: 12 months+

20. Tying Shoelaces

Tying shoelaces is a massive milestone in children’s lives, especially for kindergarten kids. Not only is it a complicated challenge to master, giving them a significant confidence boost, but it also allows them newfound independence. Once they learn to tie their own shoes, they are likely able to get fully dressed themselves. Now, they can get ready without help, making it easier to get ready for school and go and play outside.

Age group: 5-7

21. Brushing Hair

Learning to hold a brush, brush hair, and tie hair up involves fine motor skills. It takes great precision and practice to do these basic hygiene skills, but by repeating this action, children will become masters at combing their hair. If they have long hair when they are a bit older, this sets the foundation for more complex hairstyles like braiding hair or using a curling iron.

Age group: 3+

22. Cleaning Up After the Bathroom

When you start potty training, parents are still responsible for wiping their child afterward. But as your child gets older, they can learn this skill for themselves. Choosing the right amount of toilet roll, folding it up, and cleaning themselves requires excellent fine motor control, but it’s an essential hygiene skill to learn.

Age group: 5-7

23. Cooking a Meal

This is a great activity for older kids. With a bit of support, work together with your older child to prepare and cook a meal. There are also options for child-safe knives if you’d prefer. Learning to cook a meal hones more complex fine motor skills and serves as the foundation for being able to prepare one’s own food when they eventually leave the house in adulthood.

Age group: 8+

24. Clipping Nails

Using nail clippers requires controlled hand movements and precision where to place your fingers. While the first few times might be difficult for your child, over time, this is a great skill to learn. You can even encourage your child to keep a nail clipper in their backpack in case they ever get a hangnail or chipped nail on the go.

Age group: 10+

Sensory Play

I can’t say my son has ever been a fan of sensory play, but I’ve still put together eight versatile sensory play activities for fostering fine motor skills. Keep in mind that if your child isn’t a fan of some of these activities, that’s okay! There are plenty more to choose from.

25. Texture Exploration

Textured exploration is perfect for babies and can help infants learn how to use their hands and fingers. Provide your baby with different textured fabrics, like a soft blanket, silk, crinkly paper, and paper foil (the baby-friendly stuff, not the cooking stuff!). Allow them time each day to explore these textures while developing necessary dexterity skills.

Age group: 0-2

26. Cotton Ball Painting

If your kids love messy activities, this is one to try! Perfect for kids about five and up, this game is great for outdoor play on a sunny day. Give your child a variety of paint colors and get them to dip a cotton ball in the paint. Set up a large piece of paper (either put it on the ground or tape it to the wall) and have the children throw the cotton ball at the paper.

The various textures make it a great sensory play activity while they hone fine motor skills through dipping and throwing. The cotton balls will roll off the paper eventually, leaving behind an abstract piece of colorful art.

Age group: 5-10

27. Stickers

Stickers introduce children to a new texture. Peeling stickers off a page and placing them in a book or on a drawing allows them to work on their pincer grip, which is essential for picking up food or pressing buttons. This activity also encourages motor coordination as children must figure out how and where to place the sticker.

Age group: 2+

28. Sensory Bin

Sensory bins are all the rage right now. I never made one, but many of my friends did, and their kids loved them. My son just wasn’t interested in sensory play, no matter what I did! However, creating a sensory bin is super easy. Just fill a plastic box or tray with various textures, such as dried pasta, cotton balls, packing peanuts, figurines, and more.

Age group: 0-5


Do not include choking hazards. If your son is younger than three, this includes anything small enough to fit inside a toilet roll tube.

29. Clay Sculpting

Older kids will enjoy a clay sculpting activity, allowing them to work on their fine motor skills without even knowing it. Instead, they’ll be focused on creating a detailed sculpture, a mug, or a plate — or whatever else tickles their fancy! The Crayola Air Dry Clay would be a fantastic choice.

Age group: 10+

30. Sewing Projects

Sewing projects introduce kids to needles and fabrics while developing essential skills for repairing clothing. While I still ask my granny to fix my clothes, a sewing project would come in handy to teach me basic skills! Why not introduce sewing to your child to help develop small muscle skills and an invaluable lesson?

Age group: 10+

31. Tactile Sensory Cards

Instead of creating a sensory bin, you need to recreate every few days, why not try sensory cards? You can easily make these yourself. Get a sturdy bit of cardboard and tape various textures onto the cards. Cork, bubble wrap, cotton wool, and a sponge are all fantastic ideas for this one. Plus, with everything being secured to a card, it minimizes the risk of choking hazards.

Age group: 0-1

32. Proprioception Activities

Proprioception is a sense that helps us understand location, movements, and how to use parts of our body. It includes the perception of movement, force, and effort.

Proprioception skills are essential for things like knowing how to hug someone, doing a jumping jack, or carrying heavy objects. Proprioception activities include squishing a banana with a fork, squeezing a wet sponge, and even crawling.

Age group: 0+

Outdoor Activities In Nature

Getting outside each day has a myriad of benefits for children. Not only does it expose them to fresh air and vitamin D, but it can also help with their circadian rhythm and sleep. Combine outdoor time with fun activities that develop fine motor skills, and boom — you’re nailing it as a parent!

33. Sandbox Play

Whether you have a sandbox in the backyard or you head to the beach, playing in sand is excellent for developing fine motor skills. Building sand castles, digging moats, or even writing your name in the sand with a stick are all excellent activities to try.

Age group: 0+

34. Popping Bubbles

Who doesn’t like playing with bubbles? Set up a bubble machine or tire your lungs out by blowing bubbles for your kiddos and getting them to pop them. The delicate act of finding a bubble, aiming one’s finger, and making it pop is enough to hone your child’s particular skills.

Age group: 0-6

35. Make Stew

A classic game that our grandparents probably played: making stew. Get a large pot or bucket and encourage your child to collect stuff to make a pretend stew. They only need to hunt around your backyard, collecting grass, rocks, dirt, and leaves to create a stew. The act of picking things up and mixing them is both a great sensory activity but also helps with fine motor skills.

Age group: 3-6

36. Planting Flowers and Vegetables

Let your child help you with the gardening. The act of using hands, tools, and sprinkling seeds is therapeutic and helps work small muscles in the hands and fingers. And most exciting of all — they will see their seeds grow into something beautiful or delicious in a few months!

Age group: 3+

37. Rock Painting

Painting rocks with lovely patterns and designs sharpen fine motor control. This is a great activity for kids three and up. As they get older, they can work on more intricate designs. You can use rocks found in the garden or buy a rock painting kit, like the JOYIN Glow in the Dark kit.

Age group: 3+

38. Ball Games

Any ball game, such as playing catch or a more competitive football game, is a fun way to hone fine motor skills. With such games, kids have to work on their small hand movements, finger control, hand-eye coordination, and gross motor skills.

Age group: 3+

39. Monkey Bars

You might initially think playing on monkey bars is better for gross motor skills. But it’s also great for working on hand and finger movements and muscles. Head to the park and get swinging! Make sure to spot your children in case of any falls.

Age group: 3+ (depends on the height of the monkey bars)

40. Smashing Ice

Lastly, smashing ice is a fun outdoor activity that uses fine motor skills in various ways. First, get a muffin tin and fill each compartment with water. Fill each compartment with little treasures, such as flower petals, cereal, little figurines, or rocks. Then pop it in the freezer overnight. In the morning, your child can use a mallet, hammer, their foot, or even the sun to try and rescue the hidden treasures.

Age group: 4-8

How to Improve Fine Motor Skills

Besides doing the activities, here are some more important tips for helping your child hone such important skills.

  • Expose your child to textures: As someone who struggles with various textures, it’s essential to introduce your child to a range of textures starting young. Whether that’s various types of clothing materials or letting them feel various materials around the house, touching different textures is a simple way to engage finger movement and hone fine motor skills.
  • Baby-led weaning: Baby-led weaning is a type of weaning method that involves letting your child feed themselves with finger foods and utensils rather than you spoon-feeding them puree. Baby-led weaning is a great way to introduce your child to the pincer grip and use cutlery without the pressure of doing a particular activity.
  • Help with chores: Get your child involved in chores around the house, such as setting the table or picking up their own toys.
  • Dressing themselves: Encouraging your child to dress and undress themselves, even as a young toddler, can help improve fine motor skills while having a clear end goal in sight.
  • Allow children to use tools: Kids typically want to do what we’re doing. They might want to get involved when you are drilling a hole in the wall or cutting up vegetables. You can get child-friendly tools to allow your children to stand next to you while you do such jobs. This allows them to feel involved while also letting them practice their fine motor skills.
  • Choose an activity your child loves: If your child dislikes a certain fine motor activity (reminder: mine hated sensory play!), then focus on something else. Perhaps they aren’t a fan of board games that require the pincer grip, but instead they love tying knots. Maybe they’re not a fan of drawing with chalk, but instead, they love painting. Find out what your child loves and let their favorite activities become part of their routine.
  • Do it with them: Some fine motor activities, like working on handwriting, are rather dull. No matter the activity, get alongside your child and do it together. Put some music on, make conversation, and turn everything into a fun game to distract your child.
  • Strengthen hand muscles: If your child struggles with using their fingers and hands, perhaps they need to strengthen the muscles. Activities like squeezing stress balls or playdough can strengthen hand muscles, making many of these activities easier.
  • Provide many opportunities: Encourage fine motor activities at least a few times a day, especially from the age of one and up. Simple things like letting your child feed themselves or work on tying their shoes are enough of an opportunity. But ensure it becomes part of their routine for the best outcome.
  • Play games: One of the best tips for encouraging fine motor skills is to play games. Board games and puzzles work on fine motor skills without your child even realizing it. If they have a favorite game that works on these skills, keep playing it regularly.


Why Does My Child Have Poor Fine Motor Skills?

There are many reasons why a child might not have the best motor skills. Remember that some children develop faster than others, and these delays will usually even out as your child grows.

However, some children might have a developmental coordination disorder (DCD) or dyspraxia (3). This happens when the brain and muscles don’t work well together. Other things that can cause poor motor skills include being born prematurely, having Down syndrome, nerve and muscle disorders, autism, poor finger and arm strength, or vision problems.

If you are worried about your child’s fine motor skills, let your healthcare provider know so you can find the next best steps. They may refer you to occupational therapy, where your child will receive support for physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities.

At What Age Should a Child Color Inside the Lines?

It varies, but children should be able to mostly color inside the lines between the ages of three and six.

Is LEGO Good for Fine Motor Skills?

Absolutely! Building games like LEGO or Mega Bloks are excellent for working on fine motor skills. Since these activities involve precision and control of small objects, children must use their fingers to accurately pick up, position, and connect pieces.

Such activities also help work on finger strength and dexterity, which are essential for activities later in life, especially if your child grows to be a typist or even a brain surgeon!

Working On Fine Motor Skills Daily

Fine motor activities for preschoolers, kindergarteners, older kids, and even adults are essential. They set the foundation for being able to perform basic skills without thinking, like pouring a cup of tea, cleaning up the house, and washing ourselves.

With these 40 examples of activities that you can do at home, outside, or at daycare, you’ll never be short of ideas again. Whether your kid loves intense games, arts and crafts, or being in the fresh air, there are plenty of inventive ways that you can work on their fine motor skills without them even realizing it.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a Scottish freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. She is a mum to a young boy, and believes that it truly takes a village. When she’s not parenting, writing about parenting, or working, she can be found reading, working on her novel, taking photos, playing board games or wandering through the countryside with her family.