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Preventive Care
Children’s Health

10 fine motor skills activities for children

29 September 2023 · 5 mins read

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Learn more about a variety of interactive activities that can aid in the enhancement of fine motor skills (FMS) for children.

Fine motor skills (FMS) refer to the coordination of small muscles in the hands, fingers, and wrists, allowing precise movements and control. They require strength, hand-eye coordination, fine motor control, a good sense of touch and dexterity.

Importance of developing fine motor skills

Nurturing and developing fine motor skills are vital for children. These skills help them perform tasks such as writing, drawing, buttoning clothes, using utensils, and grasping small objects, thus fostering independence, self-assurance, and self-care abilities.

Fine motor skills play a crucial role in a child's overall development.  

  • Improving hand-eye coordination: Coordination of hand movements with visual information is vital for tasks such as catching a ball, threading a needle, or assembling objects. This coordination between the eyes and hands supports motor planning, spatial understanding, and overall coordination.
  • Improving handwriting skills: Children can produce neat and consistent handwriting by improving hand strength, finger control, and hand-eye coordination, enabling effective communication and expression.
  • Supporting cognitive development: Fine motor skills support cognitive development by enhancing focus, attention to detail, problem-solving skills, and spatial awareness.
  • Cultivating independence and self-care: Developing fine motor skills allows children to perform various self-care tasks independently, such as dressing themselves, tying shoelaces, buttoning clothes, and using utensils during meals.

Fine motor developmental milestones chart in children

Age

Fine Motor

6 weeks

  • Fixates and flows to 90 degrees

3 months

  • Begins to visually track objects with their eyes, following them from side to side within a range of about 180 degrees.
  • Hands held loosely
  • Grasp objects that are placed directly into their hand.
  • Not actively reaching out to grab objects

5 months

  • Reaches for objects
  • Plays with toes

6 months

  • Palmar grasp of a cube
  • Focus on ulnar (little finger)
  • Moves head and eyes in all directions
  • No squint after 4 months

7 months

  • Able to self-feed biscuits
  • Hand-to-hand object transfer

9 months

  • Inferior pincer grasp

10 months

  • Uses index finger to poke
  • Release an object into an adult's hand upon request

1 year

  • Neat pincer grasp
  • Able to let go and pick up an object again

13 months

  • Builds tower of 2 cubes
  • Spontaneous scribbles

18 months

  • Builds tower of 3 cubes
  • Visual test: picture charts

2 years

  • Builds a tower of 6 cubes
  • Imitates drawing a straight line
  • Imitates building cubes of a train without a chimney

2.5 years

  • Builds tower of 8 cubes
  • Imitates building cubes of a train with a chimney
  • Hold pencil well

3 years

  • Builds tower of 9 cubes
  • Imitates building bridges with cubes
  • Copies circle on paper

10 activities for fine motor skills development

Use child-friendly materials and supervise your children during the following activities that allow them to explore their creativity while developing their fine motor skills.

No.

Activities

Description

1

Cutting and pasting stickers

Cutting stickers involves the use of small muscles in the fingers whereas pasting stickers on books or walls requires hand-eye coordination.

These activities improve a child's focus, concentration, visual perception skills and strengthen their grip.

2

Popping bubbles

Children can practice visually tracking bubbles and attempting to catch them before they float away.

They can refine their fine motor skills by using one finger to poke the bubbles, using a couple of fingers to pinch them, or even grasping them with their whole hand.

3

Dot-to-Dot

Dot-to-dot worksheets or activity books can be used where they connect numbered dots to form a picture. This activity helps improve hand-eye coordination and pencil control.

4

Jigsaw puzzles & Legos

These activities can help improve a child’s pincer grasp and wrist rotation, trains good eye-hand coordination, visual and depth perception, and focus.

Playing with Lego can also help children develop hand muscles and spatial awareness. They can stack, sort, and create structures using different-sized blocks.

5

Putty or playdough

Using soft and squishy dough can provide sensory feedback to the brain and improve the understanding of textures using the skin on the hands.

Making shapes with play dough improves visual perception and finger isolation skills while strengthening the precision of the grasp and arches of the hand. It is also an excellent way to open the thumb web space.

Cutting playdough using scissors also improves the skills and strength of the hand.

6

Picking items with tweezers

Child-friendly tweezers or tongs can be used for children to pick up small objects like cotton balls or pom-poms. This activity enhances hand strength and precision.

7

Colouring & drawing

Use age-appropriate colouring techniques from crayons to paint brushes. This activity can enhance hand strength, pencil grip, and precision.

8

Creating art using syringes & droppers

Your child can learn to use a child-friendly syringe or dropper to draw different colours and squeeze then on plain paper to create a different art form. This activity helps enhance muscle coordination amongst the different muscle groups in the hands and wrist.

9

Threading

For older children, you can provide large beads, buttons, or pasta with holes, and have them thread these items onto strings or shoelaces.

This activity improves hand-eye coordination and finger manipulation and helps to fine-tune the hand and wrist muscles.

10

Beading & stringing

Like threading, children can use beads and strings to create necklaces, bracelets, or other designs. This activity can help improve hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and concentration.

Make an appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals

Whether you are a parent, caregiver, or educator, it is important to provide support for the development of fine motor skills in children to empower them to engage with the world confidently and independently.

Get in touch with us to book an appointment with a paediatrician today, or find out more about the Paediatrics Services at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital.


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