7 Activities to Develop Fine Motor Skills in Toddlers

High angle view of a toddler holding beads over a bowl

Fine motor skills start developing from very early in life and play a huge role in many critical activities that the children engage in during their life. 

The world around our children is changing very fast but did you know that the world inside them is changing at an equally fast speed? That little brain is growing at a stupendous pace. As infants, they are sleeping, eating, pooping but also noticing the amazing things around them. They are new to emotions but are experiencing and expressing them too. The journey is an amazing one indeed. Pretty soon, they start grasping objects, it starts with grasping a parents’ finger, to the blanky or even a toy in their cot. Gradually they reach out for things and before we know it, they start opening their fingers, wiggling them and exploring things by way of touching, lifting, squeezing, and breaking. 

Advantages of developing fine motor skills in your child: 

  1. Holding, moving, grasping, picking up objects: You may think anyone can do this, right? Because we do all these activities without really paying too much attention to them. However, if we work towards strengthening these skills in the early years, we can do much better with related activities that require hands and fingers. Namely, writing, painting, drawing, using scissors, gardening, cooking, carpentry, engineering, and much more.
  2. Hand-eye coordination: Fine motor skills play a huge role in enhancing our hand-eye coordination. Without these skills we won’t be able to do activities like driving a car, washing things, drinking from a cup or simply reaching out for an object. 
  3. Independence early in life: Why is it that some children become more independent than the others? Some children begin bathing and clothing themselves much before their peers. Even tying shoelaces comes faster to some. Why? It’s because of superior fine motor skills. This is also related to self-esteem and confidence. 

So can we really develop fine motor skills? The answer is yes. There are a lot of activities that you, as parents and early years educators, can do and help strengthen these skills in your child. 

Here is a simple activity that can really help polish these skills and ensure a wonderful time for you and your child. 

Game to Develop Fine Motor Skills in Toddlers: Let’s Go Fishing

Let’s Go Fishing : Game to Build Fine Motor Skills in Children

  • Fill a clear tub or bucket with water and place floating toys or objects in the tub.
  • Place the child in front of the tub and give them a colander or a small strainer to explore. Place the strainer in one hand of the child.
  • Encourage the child to use one hand while you assist the child in scooping the toys out of the water and into a separate area.
  • Repeat several times or until all the toys have been fished out. To make this more fun, you may keep two buckets/tubs full of water. The child may fish out and transfer the objects several times from one to the other. 

You may even add variations to this game for your child, like: 

  1. Pick up the duck, giraffe, bottle cap..etc: This will help enhance their vocabulary, general awareness and following instructions (listening) skills 
  2. Pick up the yellow/red/blue objects: This is a wonderful way to explore colours with them
  3. Pick up two objects at a time: Wonderful way to build numeracy skills

The list is endless. 

6 Activities To Build Fine Motor Skills in Children

  1. Painting with homemade paint 
  2. Play dough with homemade dough
  3. Puzzles: Start with small wooden puzzles which are easy for the child to lift. Gradually as they start understanding the concept introduce them to more complicated puzzles. 
  4. Reading books: Yes, you do foster fine motor skills by exposing children to books. Children always imitate their parents. When you are exposing them to books, lifting books, turning the pages, you are using your fine motor skills. Soon children too will copy you and, hence, take away not just the many wonders of reading but also sharpen their fine motor skills. 
  5. Stringing beads: This is a fantastic activity to help enhance the fine motor skills of your child. As the child grasps a bead and strings it through a rope, the child is also enhancing her concentration skills, attention span, confidence, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 
  6. Stacking blocks: You don’t need to invest in expensive blocks. Objects from around the house may be used. Just grab a few boxes/steel bowls from the kitchen and encourage the child to put one on top of the other. You may even use cartons, big and small, or even books and magazines. Children love this game and while playing it, they don’t just enhance their fine motor skills but also concentration skills, attention span, confidence, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 

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