fine motor activities for preschoolers and toddlers

Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers and Toddlers

We all know that fine motor skills are important, but are we making sure our curriculum integrates them enough into our early childhood activities? They are not just helpful for writing, but they are essential for everyday activities like feeding, dressing, and other hygiene activities.

Here is some fine motor fun you can implement into your curriculum or home to strengthen those muscles that control your child’s hands, fingers, and thumbs.

new years eve noisemaker fine motor activity

New Year’s Eve Noise Makers

Get in the New Year’s spirit by making these fun noisemakers. Each year, I love to have a countdown at 12PM where we do our own “ball drop” (we have balloons drop from the ceiling) and we make noisemakers!

This is a fun craft that will be something they can use during your New Year’s celebration, but it will also help their fine motor skills as they work with kernels as well as decorate the outside of it. This is something that an adult will help create using the hot glue gun and kernels (or some kind of filler like beads or dried beans).

Have many open-ended materials available to decorate small plates. You can use beads, sequins, streamers, string, markers, paint, etc. Allow students to choose! Once they decorate two plates and they have dried, an adult will help hot glue the plates together with the filler inside. Be sure to have this ready for your 12PM New Year’s Countdown celebration!

construction paper rainbow fine motor preschool activity

Construction Paper Rainbows

When getting excited for St. Patrick’s Day, this is a fun activity to do with students. As they are getting used to cutting, have students cut straight lines on construction paper as best they can with colors of the rainbow. Then work with students one on one to create a rainbow that is 3-D! Have students then glue cotton balls to the bottom to complete the rainbow.

butterfly lacing card fine motor preschool activity for toddlers and preschoolers

Butterfly Lacing Card

As Spring approaches, this is a great way to introduce toddlers and preschoolers to lacing! Using cardboard and laces is a great way to strengthen the finger muscles as well as introduce them to lacing since they will use that skill for the rest of their lives!

First, cut pieces of cardboard into butterfly shapes. Also, cut the holes for the laces. Then allow the students to color their butterfly and add features. Then, start the lacing process by creating a knot on one end and modeling for the students how to go in and out.  This is something they can either bring home or leave in the “writing center” in your classroom.

easter egg stamping fine motor activity for preschoolers and toddlers

Easter Egg Stamping

I don’t know about you, but I always have tons of plastic Easter eggs that I don’t need. Instead of throwing them out or waiting for Easter, use the halves to paint! Children can dip the half egg into paint and then use it as a stamp on egg-shaped paper.  They will enjoy this activity and strengthen their pincer grasp while creating a fun craft. Use pastel colors to make it even more Spring-like!

summery sensory bin fine motor activity for preschoolers and toddlers

Summer Sun Sensory Bin

Babies and toddlers will LOVE this summer bin!  Smells, tastes, and vibrant colors to see will give a fun sensory experience. This would need to be an individual bin for each child so that it can be sanitized properly and replaced with new materials so that germs do not spread. Use sliced lemons, oranges, non-toxic flowers, and different materials that are yellow and orange like sponges, pool noodle pieces, measuring cups, etc. Show the infants how to pick something up and explore. Little ones will stay engaged with this fun, hands-on activity.

paper tube fireworks fine motor activity for preschoolers and toddlers

Paper Tube Fireworks

Who doesn’t love fireworks? To get ready for the 4th of July, use cardboard tubes and cut the ends in one-inch strips to create a “firework.” Kids can dip this in vibrant colors of paint and place on black construction paper. This will strengthen their hand muscles and allow for creativity since it is open-ended how they arrange their fireworks on the paper. Hang these up for a festive and fun look!

marshmallow fire painting fine motor activity for preschoolers and toddlers

Marshmallow Fire Painting

A bonfire is something that works from summer through the fall, and this is one of those activities that is fun and creative. Using slightly stale marshmallows and toothpicks, you can create with this “paintbrush” some roaring fire paintings! Children will need to grip the toothpick and practice swirling, swishing, and spreading the paint on the paper. Hang up all of your “campfires” in your classroom and enjoy some actual S’mores around the “fires.” 

bundled q tip tree fine motor preschool activity for preschoolers and toddlers

Bundled Q-Tip Tree

As fall approaches, this is a fun activity where preschoolers can explore different colors of foliage and create a beautiful tree. Using a handful of q-tips and a rubber band, create a bundle “paintbrush.” Create one bundle for each color of paint.

Start by drawing a tree using a thick black or brown marker. The more branches you draw, the better! Then using the bundles, encourage kids to dip in paint and then onto the tree branches. This will create a full, fall tree!

diwali sweets dough fine motor activity for preschoolers and toddlers

Diwali Sweets Dough

As Diwali approaches, introduce students to this celebratory festival of lights by making playdough and using various spices that are used in sweets like cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, etc. Follow the instructions to make the dough, and have students choose which spices they would like to use. Encourage them to smell each one and describe what they smell like. Once the spices are added to the dough, have students use different tools like plastic knives, rolling pins, etc. to mold into whatever shapes they would like to resemble Diwali sweets.

cork kernel mosaic art fine motor activity for preschoolers and toddlers

Corn Kernel Mosaic Art

This is one of those activities that adults would love to participate in! This activity can go with Thanksgiving or with Kwanzaa, and children will love using food coloring to create colors for the kernels.

Start by dividing kernels into baggies and have children choose what colors they want to create. Use drops of food coloring in the baggies and mix around. Once they are dried, then have students create their own mosaic design by gluing kernels down onto cardstock. This can be very open-ended in how they arrange their design. The options are endless!

During Kwanzaa, corn is one of the seven symbols and represents children and the future. This would be a fun way to celebrate and learn more about the holiday!

salt dough christmas wreath fine motor activity for preschoolers and toddlers

Salt Dough Christmas Wreath

Get into the Christmas spirit by creating these dough wreaths. Using different spices and materials like stars of anise, cinnamon, evergreen, pinecones, etc., children will be able to use their senses and discuss why it reminds them of Christmas.

Have small groups join you to make the salted dough and use green food dye to mix into the dough. Using their fine motor skills, mold the dough into a wreath shape and then stick various materials onto the perimeter of the wreath as the decorations. Once it dries, this is a great gift to give for Christmas!

There are so many more activities that you can find in the HiMama activities database. Be sure to incorporate fine motor activities throughout each day so that students will be able to confidently master the life skills needed for the rest of their lives.

Missy Knechel

Missy is a professor in the early childhood department at Eastern University and director of Victory Early Learning Academy, a childcare center that she started ten years ago. Prior to that, she taught Kindergarten and second grade for a total of 10 years. She has been married to her best friend, Jason, for 15 years, and together they have four beautiful children ages 5, 7, 9 and 11 in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. In her spare time, Missy loves to bake, read historical fiction, sing karaoke and travel to Central America on short term missions.

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