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Preventive Care
Children's Health

10 fine motor skills activities for children

29 September 2023 · 6 mins read


Find out how to develop your child’s fine motor skills with fun activities such as playing with putty, tweezers, or puzzles.

Nurturing fine motor skills is crucial for fostering independence, self-assurance, and self-care abilities in children.

Whether you are a parent, caregiver, or educator, it is important to provide support for the development of fine motor skills (FMS) in children. These activities encourage creativity and imagination and contribute to cognitive growth.

Learn more about a variety of interactive activities that can aid in the enhancement of FMS.

What are fine motor skills (FMS)?

Fine motor skills refer to the coordination of small muscles in the hands, fingers, and wrists, allowing precise movements and control. Developing fine motor skills is vital for children as it helps them perform tasks such as writing, drawing, buttoning clothes, using utensils, and grasping small objects.

Several fine motor movements come naturally to us. However, most of us do not even realise when and how our brain utilises these muscles daily - it is more complex than we think.

Fine motor skills require strength, hand-eye coordination, fine motor control, a good sense of touch and dexterity.

Why are fine motor skills necessary?

Fine motor skills play a crucial role in a child's overall development.

  1. Improve hand-eye coordination
    Fine motor skills involve the coordination of hand movements with visual information, which is vital for tasks such as catching a ball, threading a needle, or assembling objects. This coordination between the eyes and hands supports motor planning, spatial understanding, and overall coordination.
  2. Independence and self-care
    Developing fine motor skills allows children to perform various self-care tasks independently, such as dressing themselves, tying shoelaces, buttoning clothes, and using utensils during meals. These skills foster independence, self-confidence, and a sense of accomplishment.
  3. Cognitive development
    Fine motor skills support cognitive development by enhancing focus, attention to detail, problem-solving skills, and spatial awareness. Activities such as puzzles, building blocks, and manipulative toys engage the brain and promote cognitive growth.
  4. Handwriting skills
    Fine motor skills are also crucial for developing legible handwriting. Your little ones can produce neat and consistent handwriting by improving hand strength, finger control, and hand-eye coordination, enabling effective communication and expression.

What are the fine motor developmental milestones in children?


Fine Motor

6 weeks

  • Fixates and flows to 90 degrees

3 months

  • Begins to visually track objects with their eyes, following them from side to side within a range of about 180 degrees.
  • Hands held loosely
  • Grasp objects that are placed directly into their hand.
  • Not actively reaching out to grab objects

5 months

  • Reaches for objects
  • Plays with toes

6 months

  • Palmar grasp of a cube
  • Focus on ulnar (little finger)
  • Moves head and eyes in all directions
  • No squint after 4 months

7 months

  • Able to self-feed biscuits
  • Hand-to-hand object transfer

9 months

  • Inferior pincer grasp

10 months

  • Uses index finger to poke
  • Release an object into an adult's hand upon request

1 year

  • Neat pincer grasp
  • Able to let go and pick up an object again

13 months

  • Builds tower of 2 cubes
  • Spontaneous scribbles

18 months

  • Builds tower of 3 cubes 
  • Visual test: picture charts 

2 years 

  • Builds a tower of 6 cubes 
  • Imitates drawing a straight line
  • Imitates building cubes of a train without a chimney 

2.5 years 

  • Builds tower of 8 cubes 
  • Imitates building cubes of a train with a chimney
  • Hold pencil well

3 years 

  • Builds tower of 9 cubes 
  • Imitates building bridges with cubes 
  • Copies circle on paper

What are the activities for fine motor skills development?

Use child-friendly materials and supervise your children during the following activities that allow them to explore their creativity while developing their fine motor skills.

1. Cutting and pasting stickers
  • Cutting stickers involves the use of small muscles in the fingers.
  • Pasting stickers on books or walls requires hand-eye coordination.
  • These activities improve a child's focus, concentration, visual perception skills and strengthen their grip.
2. Playing with putty or playdough
  • Using soft and squishy dough can provide sensory feedback to the brain and improve the understanding of textures using the skin on the hands.
  • Making shapes with play dough improves visual perception and finger isolation skills while strengthening the precision of the grasp and arches of the hand. It is also an excellent way to open the thumb web space.
  • Ask your child to make several shapes, such as fruits, bowls, trains, and animals, or cut the play dough using scissors to improve the skills and strength of the hand.
3. Picking items with tweezers
  • Provide child-friendly tweezers or tongs and have children pick up small objects like cotton balls or pom-poms.
  • This activity enhances hand strength and precision.
4. Playing with jigsaw puzzles and Legos
  • These activities improve a child’s pincer grasp and wrist rotation. It also trains good eye-hand coordination, visual and depth perception, and focus.
  • Various puzzles are available for all age groups.
  • Playing with Lego helps children develop hand muscles and spatial awareness. They can stack, sort, and create structures using different-sized blocks.
5. Colouring and drawing
  • Most children enjoy the world of colours and paints.
  • Using age-appropriate colouring techniques from crayons to paint brushes enhances hand strength, pencil grip, and precision.
6. Creating art using syringes and droppers
  • Take a clean syringe or a dropper and some colour bottles. Encourage your child to draw the colour into the syringe and squeeze it into plain paper to create a different art form.
  • While it may seem simple, it helps enhance muscle coordination amongst the different muscle groups in the hands and wrist.
  • Learning the amount of colour that can be drawn in a dropper using a certain pressure level helps them master their finger movements.
7. Threading
  • Threading is an excellent exercise for developing eye-hand coordination. In addition, it helps to fine-tune the hand and wrist muscles.
  • Provide large beads, buttons, or pasta with holes, and have children thread them onto strings or shoelaces. 
  • This activity improves hand-eye coordination and finger manipulation.
8. Beading and Stringing
  • Using beads and strings to create necklaces, bracelets, or other designs improves hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and concentration.
9. Dot-to-Dot
  • Give children dot-to-dot worksheets or activity books where they connect numbered dots to form a picture. 
  • This activity helps improve hand-eye coordination and pencil control.
10. Popping bubbles
  • A popular and simple activity that can provide an enjoyable way to develop fine motor skills. 
  • By blowing bubbles, children can practice visually tracking them and attempting to catch them before they float away. 
  • They can refine their fine motor skills by using one finger to poke the bubbles, using a couple of fingers to pinch them, or even grasping them with their whole hand.

Make an appointment at Pantai Hospitals

Fine motor skills empower children to engage with the world confidently and independently. These skills are interconnected with gross motor skills, necessitating a holistic approach to enhance physicality and strength. Creating diverse indoor and outdoor environments can offer ample opportunities for the development of fine motor skills.

A dedicated and expert team of paediatricians at Pantai Hospital is available for consultation to provide the best care and assistance. Get in touch with us to book an appointment today if you have any concerns or questions regarding your child’s growth and development. 

Pantai Hospitals has been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

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