Did you know that your house is full of fine motor activities that your kiddo can do every day? You’ll be surprised how easy it can be!
Giving kids the opportunity to do fine motor activities throughout their day is really good for them! And I find it as a mom of four, much easier than having to come up with one fine motor activity for the day.
So, I have put together my 15+ years of experience as a pediatric Occupational Therapist, and have created a fine motor list for busy families. I also tried to make the tasks doable with everyday house hold items. Because, honestly, no one needs more stuff!
The best part about this list, is that a lot of the Fine Motor Activities can be done without your help…….. ok, you might have to help them at first. If something seems overwhelming, skip it.
Finally, don’t disregard the cleaning opportunities. My kids love to help me around the house. They don’t think cleaning is work yet and I have very realistic expectations. Anything that I don’t have to totally do is a win in my book, ha!
Why Are Fine Motor Activities So Important?
By giving your kiddos fine motor activities to do everyday, you are supporting their hand development. Kids need good fine motor skills in order to color, write, cut, and to complete self help skills. Without good fine motor skills, these tasks will be hard.
Yes, kids get opportunities to do fine motor activities at school; however, all could benefit from more. And if they are having fun while doing it, why not?!
PLEASE KEEP THIS IS MIND….
When you look over the list, please think about your kiddos. If they put things in their mouth, then they ABSOLUTELY need to be supervised at all times. If you want to set them up with something and leave, then don’t give them fine motor activities that use small parts.
Also, if you choose to have your child pick grapes off the vine, PLEASE cut them before allowing your kiddo to eat them. Grapes are such a choking hazard and this should not be taken lightly.
Alright, are YOU ready to start giving your kiddo fine motor activities at home? Check out this great list…..
30 Fine Motor Activities with Household Items!
- Pull Grapes off the Vine – Please cut the grapes in half longwise before allowing your kiddo to eat them!
- Peel a Clementine – You may have to start to peel the clementine skin, but then have your kiddo finish!
- Peel a Banana – This is a great fruit to peel! It will teach your kiddo to not push too hard with the hand holding the banana while the other hand is pulling a piece of the skin. This is another fruit that you most likely will have to start but then have your kiddo finish!
- Twist open small containers for snacks – I love these small containers with twist lids that I found. The twisting action to open the lids is a whole hand strengthening task!
- Use Reusable zipper snack bags – The small zipper head is a great opportunity to use a pincer grasp when your thumb and pointer finger pinch together! And it is rewarding to get to the food inside!
- Use Hefty storage bags to store toys, markers, crayons, etc. – The slider mechanism is great for little fingers to pinch and easier than small zippers because of the shape and the ridges on them.
- Sharpen Pencils with a mechanical sharpener – My kids love to color and write using pencils. Yes, an electric pencil sharpener is fast and I find that the point is more even than using a mechanical pencil sharpener. But the skills that go into using a mechanical pencil sharpener is AWESOME from an Occupational Therapist’s perspective.
- Use Markers to color and draw – Pulling marker lids off and pushing them back on until you hear them pop is a great fine motor strengthening activity!
- Make “snowballs” out of recycled paper – The harder you squeeze the paper, the tighter the snowball gets. Thinner paper, like magazines, is easier to crush than construction paper.
- Tear paper into small pieces – Tearing paper is one of the many skills that I spend a lot of time teaching kids how to do. It’s such a great activity! Kiddos who have not mastered this skill will want to pull the paper apart. Prompt them to pinch the paper at the top so that their fingers “kiss” and then push with one hand and pull with the other hand. If this is hard, you can make small slits in the paper to help them start the tear.
- Tear tissue paper and pinch into small balls – Kiddos will often try to make a ball with one or two squeezes. Encourage them to really squeeze the tissue paper to make it tighter. When they are done, glue the tissue paper balls onto another paper, stick them onto tape or contact paper, sort them by color, or make a pattern!
- Crease Paper to make a paper airplane, origami, or a note for a friend, neighbor, sibling – Creasing paper is a great activity for strengthening your kiddos pincer grasp, the grasp between their thumb and pointer finger. Not sure how to make a great paper airplane? Checkout these step-by-step instructions, here! Or try out these origami for kids ideas, here!
- Use clothes pins or chip clips – Here is another one of my favorite “tools”. Clothes pins are great for strengthening kiddos fingers! My kids are using them to learn how to spell their site words, our telephone number, and color recognition! They also use them to display their artwork on a line.
- Make homemade play dough – Not sure how to do this? Check out this recipe! Once you have the dough use cookie cutters to make shapes in it! Don’t have cookie cutters? Use forks, spoons, straws, and toys to make prints in the dough. You can also just use your hands to make snakes, balls, and anything else you can imagine!
- Cut pictures apart and then glue or tape them back together – I like to use snack and cereal cardboard boxes for this! These boxes are generally a little thicker than regular paper. They also are usually brightly colored and makes putting the pieces back together a little easier.
- Use tongs to pick up small items and place them in a container – If you don’t have your own set of children’s tongs you can make some using 2 popsicle sticks, a ball made out of Aluminium foil and a rubber band.
- Pull apart cotton balls – Try and pull cotton balls apart so that they become like clouds. The trick is to pinch just a little bit. Kiddos like to pinch bigger portions which makes it harder to pull apart.
- Push buttons or popsicle sticks through a slit in a lid of a plastic container – Cut the slit a little bigger than the size of the largest button or popsicle stick. The bigger the hole, the easier it is to get the item through. If you want more resistance, make the hole smaller.
This is great for color matching to sight word practice to math facts! Write the letters or numbers using a pencil so that you can erase them if needed!
- Using painters tape, make obstacle course, roadway for toy cars, letters and numbers – I love painters tape! Have your kiddos pull the tape while you hold the roll. You can change the amount of resistance by holding the roll tighter or looser. This is also a great way to have a kiddo walk backwards…… another great skill! When they are done with the activity, have them peel the tape off the floor and make it into sticky balls by squeezing the tape pieces together.
- Cut a tennis ball to make a mouth and pick up small items with it – Have an old tennis ball around? Using a razor blade, slit a “mouth” into the tennis ball. Aim for about 2 1/2 inches wide. We added eyes to our tennis ball head! Holding the ball with one hand, try and squeeze the ball to open the mouth and pick up objects!
- Cut plastic straws – When you cut plastic straws with scissors, the cut piece will fly into the air and land in a random spot. The unpredictability of where the straw piece will fly and land brings lots of giggles and laughter! After you cut the straws, string them onto a pipe cleaner, yarn, or string to make a bracelet or a necklace!
- Put rubber bands around a container – Have rubber bands lying around the house? Have your kiddos put all of their fingers inside a rubber band. Then spread their fingers so that they can get the rubber band onto a container. The smaller and thicker the rubber band the more resistive it is.
- Cut a sponge into 1 inch pieces – This is a GREAT activity to do to promote a tripod grasp, the grasp you use on a pencil or marker. Give your kiddo a 1 inch piece of sponge to paint with, or to clean their toys! My kids love painting their cars with washable paint and then cleaning them with soap and water. Or build a tower using these with toothpicks!
- Stack plastic or paper cups into towers – Dixie cups, Solo cups, or plastic cups in your cupboard will work! This is a great activity for graded control, meaning that your kiddo has to adjust how much force they use in order to balance the cups!
- Take apart a broken VCR, Fan, Toaster, or any other broken electronic device using a screwdriver – This is another favorite activity in my house. We had an old VCR that probably has 100 little screws in it. My boys, each with a screwdriver in hand, have worked on dismantling it with joy!
- Screw nuts onto a bolt – Have extra nuts and bolts in the tool chest? I like using a carriage bolt that is larger and thicker. It makes twisting the nut a little bit easier. See how many nuts you can twist onto one bolt! You can also use a sharpie and color on the outside of the bolt. This works great for making color patterns!
- Vacuum using small handheld portable vacuum – These small vacuum cleaners usually have a handle to hold and are not too heavy that kiddos have a hard time moving them around. If your kiddo likes using one of these, they are working on hand strengthening by maintaining a grasp with something that has some weight.
- Use a squirt bottle and a rag to clean up spots, and spills on the floor – Here is another favorite in my household! My kids take turns with a squirt bottle that has vinegar and water in it. After squirting a spot on the tile floor, they wipe it up!
- Put dirty laundry in and out of the washer and dryer – Wherever I go, my kids want to go, ha! And being a house of 6 people, I am doing laundry ALL. OFF. THE. TIME. Putting dirty clothes into the washer and putting wet clean clothes in the dryer are great activities for hand strengthening!
- Clean baseboards using a toothbrush for cleaning – Here is another activity that I did not think my kids would like to do! However, give them a tooth brush and instructions to scrub the baseboards to get the dirt off and they were off! I like this activity, because they balanced their weight through one hand while scrubbing with their other hand! This means both arms were working at the same time!
Not Sure Which Fine Motor Activity to Start With?
Luckily there is no right or wrong answer here. Look over the list and see what looks doable. If you want to ask your kiddo for input, ask. But, if you just want to decide that’s fine too.
Finally, have fun with these ideas! If they are too hard for your kiddo, try something different! But know that anything extra that you can get your kiddo to do with their hands is a win!
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Let me know which activities your kiddos liked best by commenting below! I read and respond to all comments and love to hear from you!
If you liked this post, check out 12 Calming Waiting in Line Strategies that Work!
Kelly is a licensed Occupational Therapist with 15 years of experience servicing school-aged children and Early Intervention. She is the founder of OT Perspective and a mom to 4 children. To learn more about her, check out her About Me page, here.