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We have all seen the hundreds of ways to teach fine motor skills, and honestly, some of them become work when you have kids do them over and over again. So being able to sneak in some fun but still boost those skills is a must.
Whether your child is not writing yet, or is in early elementary and is having trouble with their handwriting ( like my child ) there are some things you can do to strengthen their fine motor skills which will develop their handwriting skills. It does not need to feel like work. These basic skills can be learned through everyday play. Increasing fine motor skills will also play an important part in your child; cutting properly, tying shoes, and manipulating small tools.
15 Sneaky Ways to Teach Your Kids Fine Motor Skills
Doing Your Hair – This one we stumbled upon with my oldest daughter. She has an obsession with doing my hair, brushing, braiding, bunning, and learning how to put in hair ties. My son thinks it's a game and does my hair as well as his sister. Plus what mom doesn't like to be pampered a bit? The braiding especially is amazing at fine motor skills. The better my daughter got at braiding the better her handwriting got as well.
Giving Mani-Pedis – Keeping with the pampering mom theme is letting your kids give you a manicure or pedicure. My kids found my neon nail files one day and wanted to know how to use them. They were all so excited, from my oldest son down to the youngest. So I let them take turns filing my nails. I figured why not I don't do anything with them anyway.
I noticed with the hold ones the attention it took for them to use the nail file right and it hit me how it was helping their fine motor skills. My younger ones had a blast but didn't quite get it right.
Legos – This one is one we all know, but I want to bring it up anyway. Kids love playing with Legos, and you don't have to buy expensive sets. A general 200+ box of Legos will supply all the fun they need! The sets are great of course because they have to follow directions, but they are more for older kids.
If you head to Pinterest and search “Lego Challenge,” a ton of free ideas come up to have your children try out. From making a simple letter to extravagant things like landmarks. My kids have made everything from zoos to RVs. They have taken part in holiday challenges and more. A good gift idea for Lego lovers is the Lego Ideas Book as it has so many ideas.
Playdough – I don't know about you but my kids are slightly obsessed with playdough. This is a good thing for their fine motor skills! Molding, shaping, cutting, and twisting are all great skills! You can take it up a step by search Pinterest and find a million and one different ways to use playdough to boost fine motor skills.
Have them make letters, shapes, numbers, or even something one of their older siblings is learning about. When we talked about the solar system I had my younger ones roll out different-sized balls and make a solar system one day. They loved feeling included, and it kept them busy! This Play-Doh Tool kit is pretty amazing as well!
The Pom Pom Drop Game – This one is a fun one in our house. We have taken the bread crumb containers with the snap lids and painted them the color of the pom poms that we have. Then we dump all the pom-pom on the floor and have the younger kids sort them into their color cans one at a time. Then we store them in their cans again until next time. The kids love playing with the pom poms something about soft and fuzzy and bright colors!
Play With Your Food – I know as parents we tell our kids NOT to play with their food but something times it can help them! Making a necklace out of colored fruit loops is one of my kid's favorites. Sorting out blueberries and grapes into muffin tins all helps with fine motor skills!
Cutting– Give your child blunt safety scissors, demonstrate the proper hold and allow them to free cut. Once they have mastered this, give them sheets with shapes to cut out, or curvy lines, straight lines, and zig zags- encourage them to cut along the outlines. Give your child various paper and fabric textures and allow them to cut. These Fiskars Pre-School Spring Action Scissors are a great way to get started. They are spring-loaded to reopen on their own, cutting down on frustration while still building hand muscles.
Stringing– Give your child yarn or string with a large knot tied on the end, and a piece of tape on the other to create a “needle” for threading. Use tubular pasta, large buttons, or beads. Show them how to thread the end. Be sure and begin with objects with large holes, so your child does not become frustrated. My daughter loves using Cheerios, I think because she can eat as she goes!
Lacing Cards– Like these Melissa and Doug Lace and Trace Farm and we also bought these Eric Carle Animal Lacing Cards since we love the books! Similar to stringing beads, this repeated motion is a fun way to also promote hand/eye coordination.
Folding paper– Teach your child to fold the paper in half, and again. Show them how to run their fingers along the fold to create a crease. Continue folding the paper as small as you can.
Puzzles– require some hand dexterity that will increase fine muscle strength. Begin with simple ones and move on to more complex ones as their skills improve. I love wooden with Letters and number like the Melissa and Doug Wooden Puzzles
Finger painting– With paint of course, but also shaving cream, pudding, gel, or jello. Using different mediums keeps it fun and fresh. Stretching and splaying fingers will help develop greater muscle control. I like my version, Mess Free Color Mixing.
Pipe Cleaners– Manipulating these wired fuzzy sticks, as simple as it seems can strengthen little hands as well.
Tweezers– The hand/eye coordination and muscle control it requires to pick up and move objects to another spot will give your child a boost in many areas of their development. This Super Sorting Pie is a fun game for that, and the tweezers can be borrowed for many other uses.
Stickers– I peel the outside sheet off the stickers ( the blank sticky part that surrounds stickers) to keep my child from getting frustrated. Give them a blank paper and allow them to peel stickers up and place them on the blank paper.
What other ways do you teach your kids fine motor skills? Drop them below and we will expand our list.