Activities You Can Do to Improve Fine Motor Skills

By Erica Loop
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Fine motor skills include the intricate movements that the fingers and hands make, ones that involve aspects such as eye-hand coordination and dexterity. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, major fine motor milestones that young children reach include using a pincer grasp by 12 months, scribbling and build with blocks by age 2 and writing letters by the preschool years. You can help your little learner to build and refine these, and other, fine motor skills through an array of easy activities.

Building Blocks

The child development experts at the National Association for the Education of Young Children note that building blocks can help kids build finger and hand muscle strength and improve eye-hand coordination. Giving your toddler, preschooler or young grade schooler wooden, plastic or rubber blocks is a simple way to encourage fine-motor-skill development. Stacking, lining up, turning over, moving and generally manipulating the blocks will allow your child to use his fingers and coordinate multiple movements. Start with larger blocks for a younger child, as these are easier to grasp. As your child ages you can add smaller or more intricate blocks -- such as specialized shapes -- to help build more complex motor skills. Allow your child to freely explore with the blocks, building whatever his imagination can dream up, or encourage him to build a structure that challenges his skills such as a block skyscraper.

Painting Art Activities

Painting provides multiple ways to help your young child improve her fine motor skills at any age. Younger kids, such as toddlers, can try finger-paint activities in which they get their digits in the mix and work on finger strength development and eye-hand coordination. Preschoolers and grade-school-aged children can use a variety of paintbrushes in different sizes and thicknesses to gain and refine finger and hand muscle control, making purposeful paint strokes that require a more sophisticated type of coordination, ability and a steady hand. Add to your young artist's fine-motor-skills building -- whether she is a toddler or older child -- by providing other painting tools such as rollers, sponges or stampers.

Writing and Drawing

As your child moves toward the school years he will need to develop the ability to grasp a pencil properly and write. Writing starts with scribbles, builds to simple drawings and progresses into creating legible letters. Instead of waiting until your little one gets to school to start writing, try a few simple at-home activities to improve his fine motor grasp. According to the national child development organization Zero to Three, between the ages of 2 and 3 years most kids can grip a writing tool with the proper thumb and pointer finger grasp. Encourage your child to hold a smaller pencil -- such as a golf-sized pencil -- or short, chubby crayon in this way while he is coloring and scribbling. Instead of only using one type of writing utensil, such as the basic pencil, give your child an array of options that include colored pencils, crayons in different sizes, thin markers, thick markers, pens, chalk and pastels.


Scissor skills are something that your child's grade school teacher will most likely expect her to come to kindergarten with. Using kids' safety scissors involves complex finger-hand abilities such as muscle strength, dexterity and coordination. You can try at-home activities with your child using scissors that will help her build her fine motor skills and improve finger and hand development. Start with a simple free cutting experience, giving your child a thin paper -- such as printer or construction paper -- to cut as she pleases. Move on, as your child progresses in her fine motor development, to more intricate scissor activities such as cutting out specific drawings or geometric shapes. When using cutting activities with your young child only choose safety scissors that specifically state that they are made for your child's age, and supervise her at all times.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.