Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers.
There are numerous fine motor activities for toddlers that you can easily do at home. Fine motor skills are small movements of muscles that involve using the hands and fingers together to execute movements such as pinching or grasping. These types of movements are essential for toddlers to practice. It helps them to learn to do everyday tasks like buttoning a shirt or tying shoelaces. The fine motor activities I am sharing with you use items commonly found in homes, are low prep and budget-friendly.
My Top Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers.
Play Dough Fine Motor Activities.
Firstly, manipulating the play dough uses lots of the smaller muscles in the fingers and hands. Children can poke, squeeze, flatten, pull, chop, cut, roll, or squash it. It is a never-ending tactile experience for all children that aids in many aspects of their development. You can add other elements such as stones, sticks, dry pasta, and cookie cutters and to increase creative play possibilities.
Some play dough activities for toddlers include:
- Poke play dough with individual fingers.
- Hammer (child´s hammer) pasta into play dough.
- Play ‘Hidden Treasure’. Hide small objects in the play dough and then try to pull them out.
- Make holes in pretend cookies or pizzas.
- Mold shapes, letters, and people from play dough.
- Roll small balls then flatten them by squeezing them between the pads of the thumb and other fingers.
Threading Activities for Toddlers.
Threading is one of the oldest and most popular activities for toddlers. Cognitively, threading is a very educational. Additionally, it´s a fantastic a way to introduce young children to a variety of mathematical concepts such as colours, patterns, measurement, shapes and counting.
Moreover, threading also develops hand eye coordination, as it requires the hand and eye to work together. Some more benefits are that it improves their concentration and bilateral coordination (using both sides of the body at the same time).
Pro tip: Children should hold the item to be threaded with their dominant hand and thread it onto the thread. They should use their non-dominant hand to steady the thread as they push it through the item.
You can thread:
- pipe cleaners or dried spaghetti into a colander.
- pasta onto a shoe lace to make a necklace.
- toilet rolls (cut in half) to thread onto a shoelace.
- beads onto pipe-cleaners or shoelaces.
Vertical threading – place sticks of uncooked spaghetti into play dough. Have your child thread pasta/fruit loops onto the spaghetti. This can be quite a challenge without breaking the spaghetti.
Remove the Elastic Bands.
This simple activity is super engaging for little ones. These types of toddler activities, grasping the band and then holding onto it, work on their pincer grasp and manual dexterity. Furthermore, it works on their bilateral coordination.
There are a variety of household items you can use to do this type of fine motor activity. Items such as a cardboard tube, gift box or corks.
Setup is easy! Thread elastic bands onto the tube (or another chosen item) for your child to remove. As they work down the tube it becomes trickier to remove the elastic bands.
Scooping, Transferring, and Pouring Activities.
Firstly, scooping small items is important in development and refinement of motions needed for using utensils during self-feeding. It also allows the exploration of gravity, weight, muscle control, cause and effect, and self-awareness. It can also keep a toddler engaged for quite a long time. Another benefit is that it develops hand eye coordination, as they fill a container without spilling the contents.
Secondly, these types of activities aid in the learning of early math skills in a fun way. You can add an element of playfulness such as ‘feed the animals’ to this type of fine motor activity. Filling and emptying different sized containers permit your toddler to develop an understanding of volume and capacity. Using a variety of utensils like tongs, tweezers, clothespins, and spoons works on their fine motor skills. You can introduce vocabulary like full, empty, more, less, scoop, and pour.
Pom Pom Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers.
Pom poms are so versatile. They are a great way to work on various fine motor skills. Pom poms promote the precision grasp between the thumb and pointer finger.
The image above is of a DIY pom pom drop. To create it, we painted toilet tubes rainbow colours and placed them into a recycled box to collect the pom poms. Then we used a variety of different sized pom poms for colour sorting. Your child can use utensils like tongs, tweezers, clothespins, and spoons to transfer the pom poms. It also develops their hand eye coordination.
Some pom pom activities for toddlers include:
- Drop them into an empty water bottle.
- Use tweezers to place them into an ice cube tray.
- Pinch them with tongs, clothespins or tweezers.
- Press them onto contact paper or double-sided tape.
- Use a clothespin to grasp one to paint with.
Peeling Painters Tape.
These types of fine motor activities for toddlers are quick and easy to set up. The bonus is that they develop many skills. They encourage toddlers to use and develop their pincer grasp, work on hand-eye coordination and requires a lot of concentration.
Similarly, you can experiment with sticking the tape down in different ways. Put it in straight lines, overlap the tape, use a vertical surface, or create a picture. Toddlers love to peel tape off various surfaces.
Water Transfer Activities.
Water transfer activities are easy to setup. Any kitchen items from saucepans, jugs or measuring cups can be used to practice pouring and transferring water with accuracy. Through water transfer activities, you can introduce math vocabulary equal, pour, transfer, squirt, squeeze etc. They also promote the development of coordination and concentration.
Moreover, you can introduce various items like strainers and funnels, as they are interesting tools to visually stimulate a child. I love using these types of materials in the bath as it is easy to keep the water contained.
Additionally, you can use a sponge to transfer water. Fill one container with water and set up other containers adjacent to it. Dip sponges into the water until they are saturated and squeeze all the water out into another container.
Another idea is to use pipettes or droppers to practice transferring water into small bowls or ice cube trays. You can extend this water transfer concept by adding a few extra materials like those in the image above. Spread paper towel over a baking tray, then place some cotton circles on top of it. Next, place a few drops of food colouring in a small amount of water. Then your toddler uses pipettes or droppers to collect the coloured water and transfer it to the cotton circles. Toddlers love seeing the colours mix to create new colours.
To learn more about fine motor skills and other foundational skills your toddler needs to improve their academic success, check out my book, Simple Activities for Toddlers. Fine motor skills are also important for preparing toddlers for kindergarten.