Let’s improve the fine motor skills in our preschoolers!
We hear that fine motor skills are important. We know that we should be helping our children strengthen their little hands. But how exactly do we improve the fine motor skills in preschoolers?
Good news! You’ve come to the right place. I LOVE fine motor activities and have spent years creating hands-on activities that focus on hand-eye coordination, motor strength, and ways to have fun learning through play.
RELATED: Looking for easy activities at home? Our activity cards will help simplify things!
Inside this post, you will learn:
- What is fine motor skills development?
- How to teach toddlers to write (spoiler alert, you don’t, you do these things instead)
- 50+ ways to develop fine motor skills
What is fine motor skills development?
Fine motor skills are those that involve the development of the small hand muscles. We create fine motor activities for our early learners to increase dexterity and prep thier hands for larger tasks such as writing, zipping, shoe tying, plus so much more.
RELATED: Sensory play is just as important as fine motor activities. See how to get started with sensory play here.
How do we teach toddlers to write?
Before asking a toddler to write, we must first cut, squeeze, squirt, grasp, peel stickers, and make lines and curves. We do this to help strengthen these muscles before asking a child to write a letter or number.
Having strong hands help ease the pressure of correctly forming a letter and allows the child time to gain the confidence they need. After years of fine motor skill practice, early learners will hit the ground running from the preparation we allowed them the time for.
Three, four, and five-year-olds (and myself) are urging us to slow down and allow motor skills to be developed through play rather than pencil and paper.
RELATED: Do you have a two-year-old? These 40+ activities are fantastic!
I know it can be frightening to hand scissors to a preschooler. Yet, the more a preschooler has access and practices with scissors, the less nerve-racking it becomes. Over time, children learn how to hold thier hand and position the wrist to cut a straight line. And good news! We don’t have to get there overnight.
I also have a trick that will help with hand placement. This is a classic strategy that many educators use with young children.
How to help children hold scissors:
Draw a smiley face on the thumbnail. This will encourage your child to keep the thumb up and visible as he cuts. Proper hand placement doesn’t happen overnight.
Try these activities listed below to begin to allow grip to develop with practice and time.
12 Pencil Grip Activities
Pencil grip is another fine motor skill that needs a little prep work.
Before we ask our children to write numbers and letters, we must first strengthen the small hand muscles. We can do this by adding these fine motor activities into our daily routine.
We can improve pencil grip with risk-free invitations to write lines and curves through activities such as these:
- Sticker Match
- Color by Number
- Fall Leaf Painting
- Monster Dot Marker Maze
- Treasure Map Color Hunt
- Mystery Shape Build
- Things I Like
- Find Your Name
- Apple Connect
- Highlighter Trace
- Paint the Sticks
- Alphabet Dot to Dot
Squeezing Activities to Improve Fine Motor
Squeezing can build up small hand muscles for writing as well! These easy activities will invite your child to play and practice squeezing.
- Shape Dig
- Poke the Alphabet
- Bear Boat Rescue
- Crack and Sort
- Egg Drop
- Wash the Socks
- “Ketchup and Mustard” Color Mix Up
- Crack a Name
- Rethink Your Playdough
- Hot Lava Volcano Rescue
- Squirt the Ice
- Clothespin Squeeze
- Save the Pumpkins
- Neon Squirt
- Paint the Ice
- Squirt the Alphabet
- Paint the Shredded Paper
- Squirt the Numbers
- Simple Clay Activity
- Fingerprint Lights
Fine Motor Grasping Activities
- Drive and Park
- DIY Coin Bank
- Toddler Roads
- Simple Weaving Activity
- Block Build
- Snowman Home
- Bears on a Ladder
- Monster Eyes
- Pick a Color
- Measurement Play
- Bring the Bears Home
- Button Push
Sticker Play Activities to Strengthen Hands
- Spider Dots
- Elmer the Elephant
- Sticker Shirts
- Sticker Snack Bags
- Dot the Lights
- Sticker Match Up
- Holiday Sticker Cups
- Sticker Pumpkin
- Sticker Sort by Size
These fine motor development activities will give your child a huge advantage to writing when they are ready. Small hand muscles will be prepped for proper pencil grip and letter formation.
Next, read more about why boredom is important for children. Planting these little learning through play seeds will engage creativity and develop confidence in the downtime.