These fine motor skills activities to help strengthen children’s hands for pencil grasp. These activities are so fun and engaging, your children are guaranteed to love them!
Check out the Fine Motor Skills page for many more ideas.
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Fine Motor Medicine Box
One of these weekly medicine boxes makes a great tool for fine motor practice. Children use their fine motor muscles to snap open the compartments by pushing down on the button and snap it closed. Have children fill each compartment with a shaped bead or sort colored jewels as shown in these pictures. You can also use pom poms or any other small items. Grasping the beads or jewels to place them in the box also uses their fine motor skills and coordination.
Fine Motor Purse
The Fine Motor Purse is a small zipper bag that holds a travel set of bottles and jars to open and close. Twisting the tops on and off, as well as flipping caps open and closed, help build fine motor skills. Not only that, but the bag also has a zipper, which is great for fine motor practice!
For this fine motor activity, I bought a very inexpensive travel kit of bottles and jars and reused a makeup bag.
Kinetic Sand with Cookie Cutters
Kinetic sand is always a big hit with children. In this activity, children simply press the cookie cutters (or play dough cutters) into the sand to make an impression. The kinetic sand gives some resistance when pushing and pressing the cutters to help build the fine motor muscles.
These activity trays are perfect for Kinetic sand and other messy projects.
Robot Hand Grabber
This is a great activity for outdoors or indoors. These robot hand grabbers will strengthen the muscles in children’s hands. Children squeeze the hand to make the robot hand or claw grab items. Have children pick up trash or pinecones on the playground outside. Inside, children can pick up toys, trash, and other items from the classroom floor.
If you have a child who doesn’t want to participate in clean up time with the rest of the class, try giving them one of these robot hand grabbers to encourage them to participate!
Locks and Keys
Collect a variety of locks and keys for your fine motor center. Children will practice fine motor skills by fitting the keys in the locks and turning the keys to open them.
I purchased this set of locks and keys that comes with this sturdy wooden tray, however I’m not certain that all of the locks would be durable enough for use with a large class of children (they might be, but I’m not sure). Most standard locks would be durable and you can have parents and grandparents donate them!
Spooning Flat Marbles: Transferring Bowl to Bowl
This tray has two bowls and a spoon. Only one bowl has flat floral marbles in it (flat marbles are the floral gems with a flat bottom that you find in hobby stores, dollar stores, etc). Children use the spoon to move the marbles from the left bowl to the right bowl. I put this one out the first week of school & they love it. It’s probably our most popular activity.
Spooning Flat Marbles: Transferring Bowl to Mini Cups
After transferring from bowl to bowl, you can later introduce transferring the flat marbles from bowl to mini cups. It takes more hand-eye coordination to get the flat marbles into each mini cup.
The “mini cups” are actually disposable plastic shot glasses I found at the dollar store. Flat marbles are floral gems with a flat bottom that are found at hobby stores, dollar stores, etc. You can use a spoon or a measuring table spoon.
For mini paintings, cut watercolor paper in fourths, so the children are using mini paper. Use a fine pointed paintbrush (mine are from an inexpensive packaged set found in a hobby store.) You can use watercolor paint or tempera. Children use their fine motor muscles to use a small brush on small paper.
This is an activity for later in the year, once children have practiced many times with painting at the easel on larger paper.
Have children fold washcloths. Washcloths are small and easy for young children to handle and manage. They fold each washcloth twice and stack them. Reuse old, donated washcloths. The children will love it if you have colorful ones!
This activity can be placed in a basket on a fine motor shelf, or put them in your house center!
Geoboards with Loom Bands
Fitting loom bands on a geoboard helps children with fine motor coordination. You can have children explore and make their own shapes with the geoboards, or you can give them geoboard mats to copy a design. Geoboard mats are available in my TPT shop.
Beads in a Paint Palette
A clear cup of multicolored faceted plastic beads was placed in the middle of the tray. The children use their thumb and forefinger to grasp each bead and place it in one of the bowls of the paint palette tray. The children sorted the beads into the tray by color. Each bowl of the tray holds about 4 beads. A muffin tin could also be used for this activity, but I prefer the paint palette tray because each bowl is smaller and the children have to be more precise about placing the bead into the bowl. The beads and paint palette trays were purchased in a craft store.
Pom Poms in a Paint Tray
You can also use a paint tray for children to transfer pom poms from a bowl to the tray. Have children use a clothespin to grab the pom poms to move them. Squeezing the clothespin is good exercise of the fine motor muscles and grabbing the pom pom with it takes coordination.
Pom Poms with Clothespins
Have children transfer pom poms from one bowl to the other bowl with a clothespin.
Pom Poms with Tweezers
Children use their finger muscles to squeeze the tweezers in order to pick up each pom pom and place it in the ice cube tray. These colored pom poms can be purchased in craft stores. I found the ice tray at a kitchen outlet store.
Pom Poms with Tongs
Children use their hand muscles to squeeze the tongs in order to pick up each pom pom and place it in the bottle.
Variety of Fine Motor Tools
These fine motor tools can be used with pom poms and other materials. These are some of the tools in the photo below:
- Purple: Silicone Mini Tongs
- Blue: Jumbo Tweezers by Learning Resources
- Orange: 3 Prong Tong by Learning Resources
- Yellow: Squeeze Tweezers by Learning Resources
- Green Alligator: Gator Grabber Tweezers by Learning Resources
- Green Clothespin
Originally published October 2009. Updated October 2022.