How to Encourage Fine Motor Development in Preschoolers

Working to develop fine motor skills is necessary for your preschoolers. In this post, learn why fine motor development is important and find ideas for educational activities that strengthen these skills in preschoolers.

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When parents first consider homeschooling their preschoolers, many of them wonder if they should start with ABCs or numbers. Both of those are important skills to introduce, but there’s another set of skills that might not come to mind that are just as necessary to learn.

What are those skills?

Fine motor development.

Just like the gross, or large, motor skills like walking and jumping your little ones learned, fine motor skills are also important to begin strengthening when children are young.

Are you scratching your head, trying to figure out what fine motor skills are or how to teach them?

Keep reading to find out why fine motor development is important for preschoolers. Plus get lots of ideas for fun activities to help develop these skills in your little ones that they’ll absolutely love.

What Are Fine Motor Skills and Why Are They Important?

Fine motor skills are those activities that use the small muscles in fingers, hands, and wrists. These skills are also used along with hand-eye coordination. They are important because they are needed in our everyday lives.

We use fine motor skills to prepare food and feed ourselves, in grooming, to get dressed, and open doors. They are also used when we write, hold and turn pages in a book, and cut paper or food. The preschool years are a perfect time to help children develop strength and dexterity in their hands to develop fine motor skills.

How Can I Help My Child Develop Fine Motor Skills?

Luckily you’ll find many daily opportunities to help your children improve these skills. Here are just a few activities that encourage fine motor development in children.

  • Getting dressed: allow your child to put on clothes, including zippers and buttons, pulling on socks and tying shoes
  • Brushing teeth, including opening the toothpaste tube and applying toothpaste
  • Other grooming like brushing hair
  • Helping prepare food, such as opening boxes, mixing, and cutting soft foods like bananas
  • Feeding themselves and pouring drinks

Obviously, your child may not be able to do these activities alone or perfectly, especially at first. But the more practice they have and the more opportunities they have to strengthen their hand muscles, the better they will get. But they may need your help in the meantime.

What Activities Are Good for Fine Motor Skills?

Along with the above daily activities that work on fine motor skills, a variety of other activities also develop them. These activities are great to keep toddlers and preschoolers busy while you homeschool older children. They can also work quite well as quiet activities kids can do while you read aloud during the homeschool day.

One of my youngest’s absolute favorite activities when he was younger was so simple, yet worked on fine motor development. I simply put water in a small bowl, laid it on a towel next to an empty bowl, and gave my son an eye dropper. He loved using the twisty droppers from this set. I usually colored the water with a few drops of food coloring to add to the fun.

Other ideas that are great for younger toddlers and preschoolers include using tweezers to pick up small items like pompoms and place them in bowls or muffin tins. Little ones love pouring, so place pitchers with water, beans, or rice to pour into another container. They could use scoops or small spoons to transfer items from bowl to bowl as well. All of these activities are incredibly simple to set up and keep your little ones quietly learning through play, which is how young children learn best.

25+ More Educational Fine Motor Activities Perfect for Preschool at Home

  • Creating with playdough
  • Working on puzzles
  • Stringing beads
  • Lacing cards
  • Building with wood blocks or magnetic building pieces
  • Building with Legos or linking cubes
  • Playing games that involve spinners, dice, and moving pieces
  • Cutting clay with a knife
  • Cutting paper with scissors
  • Cutting soft food like bananas–this free knife skills class teaches even young kids how to cut properly
  • Coloring
  • Applying stickers to paper–this fun Melissa and Doug set is reuseable
  • Opening and applying glue to paper, especially how to make just a small dot of glue
  • Tracing
  • Watercolor painting
  • Acrylic painting on canvas or on an object like this wooden birdhouse
  • Painting with a cotton swab
  • Building with clay
  • Creating with chalk pastels–these video lessons are perfect for preschoolers
  • Using a hole puncher
  • Dot-to-dot activities
  • Playing musical instruments–make fun instruments as part of this preschool music program
  • Pattern making
  • Using do a dot markers to create pictures
  • Pin poking with push pins
  • Sensory bins
  • Grasping items to count using tweezers or fingers

As you can see, it’s not tough to develop fine motor skills in your preschoolers. Many fun and educational activities help strengthen and build finger, hand, and wrist muscles. The list above is just a sampling of all of the wonderful activities your child can do to improve their fine motor skills. All of these activities help improve the skills kids will use everyday to write, feed and care for themselves and more as they grow.

Hi, I’m Christy!

I’m a homeschooling mom of 4, from preschool to high school. Homeschooling can be overwhelming, but I believe you can simplify your homeschool day so it’s manageable and enjoyable. When you join the Homeschooling in Progress community, you’ll learn ways to simplify your homeschool through emailed tips PLUS receive 5 Easy Steps to Create a Simple Routine for Productive Homeschool Days guide so you can start simplifying your homeschool today!

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