ACTIVITIES TO PROMOTE
FINE MOTOR DEVELOPMENT

Remember, a strong and stable upper body is important for the development of fine motor. Babies need time to play on their tummy. Crawling is an important developmental skill. Pushing, pulling, wheel barrel walking and other sensory motor play will help to provide a good foundation for these activities.

STUFF IN A BOX – stuff silky scarves, beads, socks, shoe laces, anything else that is light weight and long inside a tissue box. The goal is to get the child to reach for and pull out the item(s). You can tie a small toy to the end of the item to add an element of surprise.

DUMP AND FILL – emptying containers requires a lot less skill and precision than filling. This activity is great fun when someone else fills a container and the child is allowed to dump. Goal is to take turns filling.

POINT, POKE AND POUND – provide opportunities for young children to isolate a finger for the purposes of pointing to objects such as pictures in books, poking into small holes in toys or household objects and pounding materials such as helping cook by flattening cookie dough or smashing crackers for a casserole topping.

JUICE CAN LIDS - Keep the lid from a frozen juice can. Cut a slot in a box or top of a coffee can big enough for the lids to fit.

BLOCKS – blocks are a must-have play item for young children. Blocks have so many usages and grow with children from banging, to stacking, to pretending. Blocks can be homemade by covering shoe boxes and cleaned milk cartons.

CLOTHESPINS – can be put in a into a large clean, plastic soda or milk bottle. Can be made easier or harder depending on size of opening or if done in different positions. Clothes pins are also great to increase strength if using the kind you need to pinch. Have some in the pretend area or use to hang art work.

TUB FUN – while in the tub give your child food basters, sponges, and measuring cups with which to play. This can also be done with a large container of water or when the child is, older while standing at the sink

PLAYDOUGH – give your little one plenty of opportunities to play with play dough. Not only is it relaxing, fun, and educational, but it strengthens the muscles in the hand. First, give him the play dough without any tools and encourage him to poke, pull, squeeze, and
pound it. After awhile, provide tools, such as cookie cutters, Popsicle sticks, straws, etc. When first learning to cut, use plastic scissors to cut play dough. There are some great recipes for homemade play dough.

JARS WITH LIDS – give your child a variety of safe containers with screw-on lids; allow him to take off and put on the lids. Make a game of matching the correct lid to the container.

TWEEZERS & TONGS – allow the child to use tweezers to pick up smaller objects and tongs to pick up larger objects. Vary the activity by offering different size and weighted objects. Challenge child by asking them to put objects into bowls or containers as skill and precision improve.

BUBBLE WRAP – Don't throw away that bubble wrap! Who doesn't like to squeeze and pop the bubbles? Just be careful not to let a young child put bubble near or in their mouth

BLOWING – blowing is a great way to strengthen the small muscles in your child's mouth that are important for eating and speech. Try having the child blowing through a straw to move objects such a cotton balls. Increase challenge by using heavier objects.

FINGER PAINTING - consider allowing younger children to "paint" on their highchair tray with pudding, whipped cream, or other food items. As s/he gets older finger painting can also be done with shaving cream or other smearable items in a variety of positions.

FEEDING – feeding time is a great natural time to enhance fine motor skills. When younger children are being fed by a parent, offer the child a spoon to hold and manipulate. As the child gets older, finger foods in a variety of sizes and shapes are great challenges. *Always supervise, of course. And, don't wait to introduce utensils.

PUZZLES – puzzles are great for working the small muscles in the hand. Start off with simple shaped puzzles with knobs and gradually work up to more complex, interlocking puzzles.

SORTING SHAPES – can be done by using a purchased toy or during daily routines when trying to fit one object into the correct place such as silverware in the caddy or can goods in the cabinet.

KEYS – o children love to play with keys. As they get older give different sized padlocks and the keys to open them.

SCRIBBLING AND DRAWING – provide young children plenty of opportunities to use crayons, markers, or pencils. The younger the child the bigger the paper should be. Consider taping large sheets of paper on a wall or refrigerator – drawing on a vertical surface requires your child to hold the crayon differently, thus using different muscles.