Activities to Boost Fine Motor Development: Birth to Five

Fine motor skills are described as small movements attributed to use of the hands. Children under five are especially in need of exercises in building fine motor skills as it prepares them for writing and the everyday actions we partake in as adults. So what activities can you do with your young child to help them develop their fine motor skills? I am glad you asked. In this article, I will list the many ways that you can use play to help your child develop fine motor skills.


With newborns their bodies are not ready to develop fine motor skills, but there is one thing that you do to prepare them for future development.

  • Massaging hands with newborns can help prepare them for later use in engaging the muscles


Infants are becoming accustomed to the world around them and experience their world through the senses, especially with hands on exploration. Support your little one with as many safe toys and objects to practice grabbing, tapping and squeezing.

  • Textured blankets or rugs generally entice infants in that they begin to scratch at them. This “scratching” gives a larger range in hand motion that will help build their fine motor skills.
  • Toy shakers and rattles invite infants to use their hands to grasp hold of the object.
  • Give your infant an extra spoon to hold when they are introduced to solid foods.
  • Use a drum or hardcover book for patting.
  • Roll a ball across the floor.


Toddlers have a bit more experience with the use of their hands than infants, but there is still a lot more to do. Overall balance and coordination are subject to growth, and fine motor skills are no exception. Use this time to refine their current ability with their hands.

  • Use crayons to color a picture.
  • Encourage them to put on their shoes by themselves.
  • Tear up recycled newspaper.
  • Introduce safety scissors for practice.
  • Practice zipping up coats and pants.
  • Mold some play dough.
  • Roll a tennis ball across the floor and cover it with a funnel.
  • Play with puppets.
  • Put away toys into a container.
  • Paint with sponges.
  • Paint with paint brushes.
  • Toss bean bags in the air and catch them or pick them back up.
  • Read a story together and have your toddler turn the pages.
  • Water play in the sand and water table.
  • Cook a meal together and encourage toddler to help stir, mix and/or pour the ingredients.


Preschoolers have much better control over their hands than in earlier years. With more practice, they can begin to hold their hands and fingers in a position for longer periods of time. This skill level will lay the foundation for tracing and writing.

  • Use cotton balls to paint a picture.
  • Hang up art to dry with clothespins.
  • Draw lines on paper for children to cut along with scissors.
  • Practice tying shoelaces.
  • Bead some necklaces.
  • Cook a meal together where they can crack eggs, or practice cutting with a butter knife with supervision.
  • Tracing letters on paper.
  • Scooping and measuring rice in the sensory sand and water table.
  • Use thinner paint brushes to paint a picture.
  • Measure water using tablespoons and teaspoons.
  • Draw shapes with chalk.

These are all just some of the many ways you can implement fine motor skill building into your daily learning through play! There are plenty more that haven’t been listed; what are some things you’ve done with your child to perfect fine motor skills?



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