Foundations of Fine Motor Skill Development

Fine motor activities for children are the best way to ensure proper development and practice of fine motor skills to promote the most functional use of a child’s hands.

There are multiple components that can help with the development of fine motor skills such as:

Upper body and core strengthening activities

Adequate fine motor control needs to have a good base to work from. That base is our body! A strong core and shoulder girdle are both needed for fine motor control.

Below are examples of activities to target core and/ or shoulder girdle stability:

-Color/ draw on vertical surface (tape paper to the wall or use an easel)

-Wheelbarrow walk races (adult holds the child’s legs while they “walk” on their hands)

-Animal walks

-Complete activities laying on your stomach with your head propped up (coloring, playing with toys, etc)

-Ball on a wall: While standing or kneeling use both hands to move the ball up the wall and back down

-Chair push-ups or wall push-ups

-Keep the balloon up using either your hand or a pool noodle work on keeping the balloon above your head and in the air

-Yoga ball walkouts: Roll over it on your stomach and walk out on your hands

-Targeted throwing activities on your belly or standing: switch between over and underhand throw to a target

Bilateral Coordination tasks

Bilateral coordination develops in different ways such as a child coordinating both sides of their body to clap, stabilize a toy while manipulating its piece with the other hand, to stabilize a bowl or plate while using the other hand to feel oneself, cutting with scissors.

Below are examples of activities to target bilateral coordination:

-Make your own playdough: When stirring the mixture, use one hand to hold onto and stabilize the bowl while the other hand stirs. Once dough has been formed, use both hands to flatten, roll, etc.

-Paper fold: How many times can you fold a single piece of paper before you can no longer fold it? Both hands must work together to line up paper and create folds.

-During all writing/ coloring activities ensuring one hand is stabilizing (can give paper a visual and say hand needs to stay on blue dot).

-Popping bubbles: Encourage them to pop the bubbles with one finger or give them an object to pop the bubbles (in each hand) such as a straw, marker, crayon).

-Pulling tape off wall (half sticking on and half hanging off) switch which hand pulls tape off

-Ripping paper: Have your child use both hands to grab the paper and encourage them to rip the paper and then crumple up the small pieces of paper into “snowballs”

-Make a chain of paperclips. How long can you make your chain?

-String beads, buttons, macaroni, or snipped plastic straws onto yarn or string. How many can you fit on your string?

-Use a ruler to draw lines on a piece of paper

Written by Kelsey Conlon MS, OTR/L