As parents, we want to give our kids the best start so they are prepared for life. That is why we read to our kids, teach them how to share and be nice so they can make friends, and we even give them routines to help them learn how to get through a day with relative calm. But there is one more thing we can do to help little ones succeed in school; we can give them lots of opportunities to practice their fine motor skills. 

Fine motor skills help children learn hand-to-eye coordination using the small muscles in their fingers, hands, and wrists. This skill set lays the groundwork for kids to grasp pencils and utensils, tie their shoes, and use safety scissors on their first day of school. But while those tasks may seem rather basic to a grown-up, they require practice for young kids to master. To help give your toddler’s fine-motor muscles a workout, here are 10 great fine motor activities to try at home.

Fine Motor Threading Activity for Toddlers

 A toddler does a fine-motor threading activity with pipe cleaners and toilet paper rolls.

Image and activity via Laughing Kids Learn

Threading activities are great for toddlers because they give them the opportunities to grasp and guide an object. Using a simple cardboard toilet paper tube and some colourful straws, little kids can thread the straws into pre-cut holes to make funky sculptures. Add a challenge by creating a simple threaded cardboard tube and ask your child to copy what they see. 

Clothespin Colour Matching Toddler Fine Motor Activity

 Colorful clothespins clipped onto colorful dots drawn onto cardboard.

Image and activity via Chalk Academy

Grasping and guiding can be a tricky skill to master, so why not make it fun? Create an eye-catching colour wheel on thick paper and add matching colourful clothespins. Your child can learn how to use their fine motor skills while also learning their colours. Add a pre-literacy challenge by writing letters or numbers on the colours and asking your child to use the clothespins to clip the letters and numbers. 

Sticker Names Fine Motor Activity for Toddlers

 Toddler uses dot stickers to trace the name SAM on a piece of paper.

Image and activity via Busy Toddler

Any fine motor skills activity that weaves in math and reading skills is a huge bonus. That is why we like this sticker name activity that gets kids using their fingertips to pull and stick stickers to pre-written letters. When they are done, they can feel proud that they spelled out their name, and you can feel good that your child just got an excellent fine motor skills workout. 

Playdough Fine Motor Activity for Toddlers

 A playdough activity where children must recreate an image (like a chocolate chip cookie) using playdough.

Image and activity via My Happy Place

Playdough is magical when it comes to learning fine motor skills. Kids love to pinch, pull, stretch, and roll the dough, which doubles as a fantastic sensory activity. The playdough acts as a resistance, making your child work their muscles to manipulate the dough into various shapes. With a touch of imagination, kids can create all kinds of creative things while also building up those fine motor skills. 

Tongs and Tweezer Fine Motor Activity for Toddlers

 Plastic tongs, colorful pom-poms, and a muffin tin.

Image and activity via Craftulate

Tongs and tweezers can help littles learn how to grasp while guiding small objects, boosting their hand-to-eye coordination. Kids can have fun using a muffin tin, some construction paper, pom-poms, and tweezers or tongs. If they get bored with colourful pom-poms, try adding a challenge and have your child sort small toys or other objects.  

Scissor Lions Toddler Fine Motor Activity

A lion face made out of a paper plate. 

Image and activity via Kids Activities

Scissors can be exceedingly frustrating for small children. They can see where they want to cut, but the act of simultaneously squeezing, guiding, and hand-to-eye coordination can be too much. This fun activity gives kids the chance to chop some messy lion hair plus colour and play. Grab a simple paper plate, some crayons, and scissors, and let your child practice making small snips. Add a challenge and give them line drawings to cut out once they master making snips. 

Tape Animal Rescue Fine Motor Activity for Toddlers

A toddler tries to "free" toy animals that have been taped down onto a tray. 

Image and activity via How We Play and Learn

Opposite from the sticker name game, this activity asks kids to practice their picking skills by using their fingertips to pry off painter's tape to save their toy animal friends. Simply tape a few small toys to a piece of cardboard, a sheet pan, or another tray and let the fun begin. Add a challenge and use rubber bands! Wrap a few small plastic toys in rubber bands and have your child unwrap them. They will be using the same skills to set their animals free. 

Button Stacking Toddler Fine Motor Activity

 Buttons threaded and stacked on a dry spaghetti noodle that's held upright by playdough.

Image and activity via The Chaos and the Clutter

We love this colourful activity because, like the threading fine motor activity, it gives kids the opportunity to focus on grasping and guiding small objects. Children can stick toothpicks into playdough and then 'thread' buttons onto the toothpicks. Or, they can use the playdough to stick buttons together, building a neat sculpture. 

Squeezing Water Fine Motor Activity for Toddlers

 A toddler uses a baster to suction water out of a tray.

Image and activity via Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Kids love water, so use it to your advantage. Grab a bucket of water and turkey baster and let your little one have a blast squeezing the baster to fill it with water and then squeezing it again to shoot the water out. This game is wonderful to play during bath time. 

Pool Noodle Balancing Fine Motor Activity

 A toddler uses plastic tongs to put pom-poms into the donut-shaped pieces of a cut-up pool noodle.

Image and activity via Learning4Kids 

If your child loves playing tongs and tweezers, then try this fun activity. Cut up a pool noodle and have your child use tongs or tweezers to pick up colourful pom-poms to balance on the top of pool noodle section. Add a challenge and ask your child how many pom-poms they can get to balance on one noodle. 

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