Offering activities that encourage fine motor skill development should be a very high priority for you. Fine motor skills help kids learn to write, and that is very important. BUT, we use fine motor skills in so many daily actions. For example, tying shoes, zipping pants, feeding yourself, fixing your hair...the list could go on and on.
I've come up with 15 low prep and budget friendly activities to help encourage fine motor skills in your little one. These can be used for any age, really. Just adjust the activity to your child. These do not take very long to set up. I think the bigger battle is being intentional and making yourself set them up. Also, I buy most of my supplies for activities like this at the dollar store.
One big tip I have for you is this: plan and prepare lots of activities at one time. Then plan to do 1 or 2 or even 3 each week. I have found that this really helps me to cut down on the time. And when we have a moment that needs to be filled, I am ready to go with a new activity.
So first things first. Here's a list of supplies for you:
- spray bottle
- ice cube trays
- tongs/tweezers- look in the school section where you can find age appropriate tweezers
- construction paper
- animal figures
- foam letters
- bin or bucket for sensory activities
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- small plastic pitcher
- pipe cleaners
- q tips
- fake flowers
- paper shred
That's 25 items. If you go to a dollar store, that means you only have to spend $25! And I have 15 activities for you with these supplies! Just think, if you actually get to 3 of these a week, they will last for 5 weeks! And then you can repeat these over and over.
**If you want to splurge and spend an extra $5, go ahead and grab some shoe size bins to keep all of your supplies in.**
Spray Bottle Fun
Fill a pray bottle with water and have your child practice spraying it in the bath tub. Or spray on the driveway to make art with water! If you have sidewalk chalk at home, write letters on the ground. Have your child spray all the e's with the water. Or do shapes or pictures. OR let your child spray you! Make it fun!
Pom Pom Fun
There are endless possibilities with pompoms! Grab your ice cube trays and have your child work on the pincer grasp by placing individual pompoms in each cube. Or add in tongs and have your child pick up the pompoms with them to place in the ice cube tray...this is a great opportunity for pattern practice. You could also have them sort the pompoms by size and color.
Just having your child play with stickers is TONS of fine motor skill practice. We like to place some stickers on a page and then draw to complete a picture.
Trace with Stickers
This one is great as they get older. Draw a line, and have child 'trace' the line with stickers (use circle stickers). You could incorporate shapes, letters, name practice. Whatever you want. I've even drawn pictures before with place to place round stickers.
Bean Sensory Bin
Fill you bucket with beans. Add in ice cube trays, spoons, measuring cups, bowls, animal figures or foam letters, whatever items you want. Have your child practice scooping, pouring, and exploring. Just let them play!
Water Pouring Fun
Fill bowls, plastic pitcher, and sensory bin bucket with water. Have your child practice scooping and pouring. If you are worried about a mess, do this outside or even over in the bathtub or shower.
Have your child tear paper. That's it. Simple, and GREAT fine motor/pre writing activity.
Have your child practice cutting with scissors (adult supervision required!!). Practice cutting plastic straws and strips of paper.
Have your child use those straws they practiced cutting with scissors by threading them onto a pipe cleaner. Once they have mastered this, have them use beads to practice threading.
Toothpicks and Food
Ok, this one is obviously a bit risky! Only do this if you feel comfortable that your child will follow your safety directions. Have your child poke some of their lunch with toothpicks! Great for fine motor skills. This is a great way to encourage eating fruits and veggies, also!
Q Tip Painting
This one is simple. Just have your child paint with q tips. You can print out coloring pages online that have pictures made with circles the size of qtips. Have your child dip the qtip in paint and then make a dot in each circle on the page.
Have your child decorate a colander with fake flowers.
Fill your sensory bucket with rice, ice cube trays, measuring cups and spoons, preschool tweezers, and foam letters. Have your child play in this sensory bin however they want. If they are having trouble playing, give them some directives such as, "Can you feel the ice cube trays with rice?" or "Grab the letters with your tweezers and place them in the ice trays.".
Paper Shred Bin
Hide animals and foam letters in a bucket filled with paper shreds. Have your child use their tongs to find the letters and and animals.
Any kind of playdough play is great for fine motor skills. Check out this article if you want some ideas.
***Adult supervision is always recommended for all activities.