32 Objects for Strengthening Fine Motor Skills


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We have been loving activities that promote fine motor skills! George seems to prefer these types of activities, so we tend to do a lot of them!

To have some quick activities ready to go, I started jotting ideas to do that are great for fine motor skills. I realized they end up in just a few different categories.

32 objects that help kids strengthen their fine motor skills (plus activities to do with them)

Here’s my categorized list of items and activities for us to use as part of another activity to work on fine motor development.

  • Small Objects to use in Fine Motor Activities
  • Objects that Strengthen Hand Muscles
  • Objects that Promote Hand-Eye Coordination
  • Objects that are good for Threading (more hand-eye coordination)

 Find a list of 30 materials to use to promote fine motor skills, along with activities to do with them.

Small items that promote fine motor skills

Small items that promote fine motor skills:

Pretty much any small item is great for fine motor skills. You definitely need to keep a watch on younger toddlers, or kids that like to mouth items when working with small items. But just the act of grasping the small items is great for their little fingers.

  • Cereal: Make a craft with them.
  • Pipe cleaner pieces: Push them into a spice container.
  • Pom poms or cotton balls: Just pick them up! Or push them into a small container.
  • Small containers to put things in: A number of objects can be used to push into it, including pom poms or ribbons.
  • Buttons: Make something out of them, or sort them by size or color.
  • Stickers: Create a scene with stickers. The act of removing the sticker is huge!
  • Toothpicks: Poke foam with it or use it to build structures.
  • Marshmallows or raisins: Use with toothpicks to build structures, paint with them, or make a craft with them.

Objects that build hand strength

Objects that build hand strength:

Items that help with hand strength, that require them to actually use their hand muscles in order to operate it.

  • Kitchen tongs: Pick up stuff around the house with them.
  • Eye droppers: Add them to a water activity or a science experiment.
  • Syringes: Also add these to water activities! Kids love them.
  • Play dough: Just let them play with it. The more they manipulate it, the more it strengthens. Here are my tips on how to make homemade play dough that is super soft!
  • Rubberbands: Wrap objects with a bunch of them, or make a geoboard.
  • Hole punch: Just punch holes in paper (kids will love that!), or include it in crafts.
  • Clothespins: Include them in all kinds of activities. Have the kids hang stuff up, like on a clothesline!
  • Tweezers: Again, use these to pick up small objects! These are smaller so it takes more coordination, but they’re easier to actually squeeze.

Hand-eye coordination with small objects

Hand-eye coordination with small objects:

Small items that require an action using hand eye coordination. That’s kind of hard to explain because hand-eye coordination activities can also include a bunch of gross motor activities. So I’m limiting it to smaller items that really require concentration to achieve whatever it is they’re doing.

  • Cutting: Scissors and paper goes a long way. But beginners can cut straws. Something easy to just snip quick.
  • Screwing: Set out some jars with lids. Or nuts and bolts (we’ve used drawer knobs).
  • Pipe cleaners and colander: Just stick pipe cleaners through the holes of the colander.
  • Paper clips: Clip them onto papers. Use thicker construction paper.
  • Writing and drawing: Set up a drawing station. Pencils, crayons, markers. Or chalk at the chalkboard!
  • Weaving: Weave paper, weave ribbons in the clothes basket, weave sticks through the fence.
  • Toothpicks & marshmallows: Build structures with them.
  • Balancing: Building towers with blocks actually takes a lot of hand-eye coordination and gentle touch.

Threading, a subcategory of hand-eye coordination

Threading, a subcategory of hand-eye coordination:

Threading items are a big fine motor activity. This could technically get put into the hand-eye coordination category, but I think there’s enough diversity of how we can do it that I keep it separate.

  • Straws: Thread straws for a necklace.
  • Cereal, such as Cheerios: They work great to make a necklace or bracelet too.
  • Pasta: Thread large, straight and dry pasta onto dry spaghetti noodles! Being ever-so-careful not to snap one!
  • Beads: Another bracelet pleaser.
  • Sewing or lacing: Use lacing cards, or make your own (let them use the hole punch!), and thread strings through.
  • Pipe cleaners: Pipe cleaners are a great medium to thread onto for beginning threaders. They’re stiff. Just be careful of the sharp ends (you can fold it over onto itself to make a dull point).
  • Shoestrings: Rounded shoestrings (we use the ones from our Melissa & Doug Lacing Set, affiliate link) are also a great medium for threading. The ends are ‘hard’ so they don’t fray and get in the way.
  • Dry spaghetti: Like I mentioned above, thread other pastas onto the dry spaghetti.

Get the Fine Motor Go-To List printable here.

Now that we’ve mastered fine motor skills, let’s jump to gross motor activities!

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