What are fine motor skills and why are they important?

Toddlers threading string through buttonsYou may have heard the words “fine motor skills” but had no idea what they meant or how they pertained to your toddler. Well, I am going to break it down for you and give you some ideas to foster this important developmental skill. 

So what exactly are fine motor skills? Smaller movements involving the hands and fingers are fine motor skills while large movements that use the whole body are gross motor skills. Fine motor skills are so important for your toddler to develop to be able to complete many tasks that will be necessary once they start school. 

Some examples of fine motor skills are:

  • Cutting
  • Holding a pencil
  • Opening lunch boxes
  • Building with legos
  • Completing puzzles
  • Buttoning and zipping clothing
  • Grasping and picking up small items
  • Tying shoes
  • Feeding themselves
  • Hygiene skills

a boys hand with playdoughThere are tons of ways to help your little one develop fine motor skills. You can have them try to complete the tasks mentioned above to get ready for the classroom but there are other ways to encourage this developmental skill. Large plastic tweezers in sensory boxes work great to build this skill and has the added bonus of working on other skills too. 

Picture of sensory box with tweezers

You can also use things like marshmallows or gumdrops and toothpicks to build different shapes or letters. Remember, the key to developing this skill is to allow them to pick-up and grasp little objects. 

Another option is playdough! What kid doesn’t love playdough? Plus, it is so versatile! You can add cookie cutters, pattern rollers, small toys, or utensils. 

Beading is another option that works great for fine motor development. Don’t just think strictly beads and string, you can go way out of the box with this idea. 

Alternatives to beads: pasta, cereal, rubber bands, or buttons

Alternatives to string: pipe cleaners, straws, popsicle sticks, or toothpicks 

Stickers are a great option too. You can have your child sort them by color, shape, size, etc. or just use them to create wonderful pieces of art. Either way, the act of taking them off the paper and placing them on their work task is great exercise for their little hand muscles. 

a girl completing a toddler puzzle

As you can see, fine motor development is so important to get your kiddo ready for the classroom but can be quite fun and easy to practice. 

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hey friends!

My name is Nicole and I am so glad you are here! I have always loved photography and have taken classes. Then I started my teacher journey and fell in love with creating resources for what I needed in the classroom. Now I have combined both of my passions to bring you spectacular resources!