It takes a lot of practice for young children to gain full control of their bodies. As babies, they start by developing their gross motor skills with actions like rolling over, sitting, crawling and, finally, walking. Next, smaller and more precise movements like picking up objects with their fingers and thumbs require what’s known as fine motor skills. These are important to master, because they’re essential for all sorts of everyday tasks, from eating to buttoning up a jacket or writing with a pen. Here, we’ll show you which fine motor activities for toddlers can help your little one to perfect control of their fingers and thumbs.
Fun for little fingers
Toddlers won’t know they’re doing fine motor activities that improve their dexterity. They’ll just know that they’re having
lots of fun! Play activities to help hone fine motor skills can include:
- Getting stuck in with homemade play dough
- Threading pasta or large beads to make a necklace
- Sorting small Lego bricks and beads into different colours
- Exploring treasure baskets full of exciting objects
- Having a pretend tea party and pouring water from a teapot into a cup
Small children love to imitate the grown-ups around them. Help your toddler feel like a big boy or girl by encouraging these role play activities that will get their fingers working:
- Playing mums and dads and dressing a baby doll in different outfits
- Being a shopkeeper and counting out change
- Going to work: sitting at a desk and ‘writing’ with pens and pencils and using an ink stamper
- Dressing up in costumes or uniforms: firefighter, police officer, doctor, princess, superhero
Building and construction
Building and putting things together is one of the most satisfying fine motor activities for toddlers.
- Lego and Duplo bricks are classic toys that every toddler loves
- Traditional, wooden building blocks make another great building activity
- Puzzles require children to pick up the pieces and place them where they go
- Putting together train tracks helps toddlers to hone their fine motor skills
Who doesn’t love unleashing their inner artist? As well as helping young ones to express themselves, mark making is a precursor to writing, and doing lots of work with pens and crayons will help children understand how to grip a pen.
- Scribbling using fat crayons will probably be a toddler’s first foray into the world of mark making
- Colouring encourages precision as children aim to stay within the lines
- Cutting with toddler-safe scissors helps to exercise the muscles in the hand.
Hygiene, eating and self-care
Pre-schoolers must learn to do basic things for themselves in order to become more independent and to prepare for school. Many of these tasks require fine motor skills.
- Brushing your teeth is an essential life skill. Let your toddler practise brushing their own teeth or yours!
- Getting dressed can involve many different processes involving fine motor activities, such as tying shoelaces, doing up zips and fastening buttons
- Using cutlery to feed yourself is a great way to become accomplished at using tools to pick up objects