Making It Easy – How to build fine motor skills in children?

How to Build Fine Motor Skills in Children

a cartoon picture of a child in a red shirt holding a purple flower.

Fine motor skills are the small movements, made predominately by our hands, that help us to manipulate objects and explore.

Children need to develop these skills to help them to interact and engage with the world, as well as prepare for schooling (writing, painting, cooking, cutting).

Fine motor skills are typically refined after large motor movements (gross motor movements) like climbing, crawling, running, jumping, throwing and swinging. Children are often able to seek the movement and patterns their bodies need to help their development. An example of this is if a child is seeking lots of climbing they may be working on strengthening their shoulder stability. Shoulder stability is a key factor needed to develop fine motor skills in a more refined manner.

Children learn best through play, so consider any games and toys and nature opportunities that encourage movement – both big and small! One of our favourite ways to build skills is outside in nature; exploring, climbing, digging, pouring, throwing.

Ideas to help develop fine motor skills:

  • Drawing with chalk on the concrete
  • Using play-dough and cutting with cutter
  • Writing letters shaving foam or sand
  • Using Lego to build shapes and letters
  • Cutting out magazines pictures
  • Eating finger foods
  • Playing musical instruments together
  • Helping out with house hold jobs e.g. hanging out the washing, sweeping
  • Playing with toys that have buttons
  • Using the child’s interests to write about or colour in

What makes it easier?

  • Playing together with Mum and Dadresources
  • Using big crayons, brushes, markers or chalk ensures children use the right muscles for the activity and are less likely to adopt incorrect grasps
  • Use thick outlines for colouring sheets
  • Smaller pieces of paper to cut
  • Do lots of activities that involve using both hands together

Further Information:

Resources related to Fine Motor 

Tara is a Specialist Paediatric Occupational Therapist, currently based in Berkshire. She has extensive experience working with children who have individual, additional and complex needs. She has a detailed understanding of early intervention, trauma, trans-disciplinary working, autism, sensory processing, as well as the importance of meaningful occupation.

Leave a Comment