40 Fine Motor Skills Activities

Here is a collection of 40 fine motor skills activities for young children that are easy to set up and promote a whole range of skills. They’re creative, open-ended, appropriate and varied with ideas for practising motor skills through art, sensory play and simple manipulative games, and there are so many to choose from!

40 fine motor skills activities for children

One of the most important ways we can help our children while playing with them at home or in a childcare/ classroom setting is through setting up simple activities that help to develop fine motor skills. Young children need to be able to hold and use scissors and pencils appropriately before using them in a classroom context. We cannot expect them to be able to write if they haven’t yet developed the strength needed in their hands and fingers.

There are plenty of easy ways to strengthen these muscles, practise co-ordination and develop hand:eye co-ordination using simple, everyday materials and a bit of creative fun! Here are 40 that we have done over the past few years with babies to 5 year olds. There are a million variations you could make from each of these to cater for your own child’s particular interests and learning dispositions. Use these as a springboard and pin it for future reference too!

natural materials in herbal play dough


[Herbal play dough with natural materials to explore]

My personal favourite tool for developing all fine motor skills is the humble ball of homemade play dough. It can be used in SO many ways by adding other combinations of materials to it, and automatically strengthens little hands as they roll, squeeze, twist and build with it. Here is a whole post about the benefits of playing with play dough and a handy guide to starting out with building your own play dough tool kit. Of course, baking with real dough is another wonderful way to play and learn simultaneously!

The many benefits of play dough (and a tool kit) 



Other activities we have loved have included exploring sensory play materials, transporting small parts, threading beads, hands-on art projects, cutting and sticking, tearing and scrunching papers, opening and closing fastenings and countless others. Here is a selection of some of those favourites, all of which can be adapted for different age groups and abilities.

Threading with beads onto pipe cleaners

beads and pipe cleaners threading

Threading, posting and slotting toys for babies and toddlers


Poking straws into holes

straws discovery box

Pasta necklaces

Rainbow threading necklaces

Monster play dough

Monster play dough

Weaving around cardboard

Weaving on cardboard shapes

Fairy sparkle playdough

Fairy play dough activity

Pipe cleaners and colanders

Pipe cleaners discovery box

Beads on spaghetti


Hair rollers sticky construction


First sewing basket

Sewing with ribbons

Edible fingerpainting 


Making marks in fairy dust


Decorating play dough eggs


Mark making and scooping in lavender sensory salt

Lavender sensory salt

Building 3D models


Sorting and pattern making with shells


Patterning with lego


Lid posting game


Snipping and doodling sticky stained glass windows

stained glass windows

Whisking up coloured sensory soap 

whisking coloured soap

Salt dough alphabet modelling

salt dough initials

Pebble sorting

Pebbles discovery box

Stacking cups


Play dough cupcakes

playdough cupcakes

Foam and water window art

Foam window murals

finger printing
Grinding coffee
Rainbow collage activity
paper bag weaving
sticking activity
If you would like some more ideas for making play dough exciting, here are over 50 in this round up collection, all from this blog!the+A-Z+of+play+dough+recipes+and+activities+title
You might also like to browse our collection of Discovery Box ideas for curious toddlers!
15 discovery boxes for toddlers and preschoolers
Cakie: 5.0
Pop: 3.5
Bean: 18 mos


  1. says

    I am doing some early childhood graduate work with 2s and 3s…looking forward to incorporating many of these ideas…especially the twigs or birthday candles into dough activities! Thank you.

  2. says

    Wow! You have a great selection of fine motor activities here! I used a lot of fine motor activities with my kindergartener last year because he had so much trouble holding a pencil. At the start of this new school year he has already shown me how well he can hold a pencil and print now! I’ll be using some of these to continue helping him with his fine motor, as well as his younger sister. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Kathryn says

    I’m a teacher’s aid in a SPED class and my students absolutely love sensory art and so many of these fine motor activities would be great for them! Thanks for sharing your great ideas and awesome projects!

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