20+ Fine Motor Activities – Busy Toddler

20+ Fine Motor Activities - Busy Toddler


Fine motor skills develop throughout childhood, but how do you support those growing muscles? Try this list of 25+ fine motor activities designed to help kids build their strength and dexterity. These easy activities make growing fine motor skills fun for everyone.

What are fine motor skills?

Fine motor skills are the muscles of the hands, wrists, and fingers, and the dexterity to move those parts of the body in coordinated, specific ways.

Not just in childhood, but throughout a person’s life, fine motor skills play an important roll. From dressing ones self to eating to handwriting, fine motor development is critical in many of the tasks we perform throughout the day.

For kids, growing and developing these motor skills becomes especially important to their independence. As parents, we can help support this growth in a way that’s fun for them, supports their needs, and refocus their energy for at least a few minutes from their 47 “…but why” questions every hour.

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How kids use their fine motor skills

As kids grow, their fine motor skills refine and they’re able to use these skills to accomplish all sorts of tasks. In infancy, we see a baby pushing up from tummy time, grasping for a toy, and eventually being able to purposefully hold an object: that’s fine motor work.

In the toddler and preschool years, fine motor skills progress and are used for a whole host of activities. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of times kids use their fine motor skills each day:

  • Feeding: using pincer grasp (thumb and finger together) and eventually utensils
  • Dressing: buttoning, zipping, snapping – these all take hand muscles and precision
  • School skills: cutting, gluing, coloring, and printing use serious motor development
  • Life tasks: squeezing, squirting, digging, scooping, pouring are all examples of fine motor skills that kids need to acquire

If you are looking for information on specific areas of fine motor development (like bilateral coordination and in-hand manipulation), check out this post from The OT Toolbox titled “The OT’s Guide to Fine Motor Skills.”

Why use activities to practice fine motor skills?

Fine motor skills do develop naturally – overtime, kids get better at things like feeding and dressing because they practice those daily.

Other skills, like gluing, cutting, squeezing, and pouring, might not have as many daily options for practice without a little intention.

Fine motor activities give kids a chance to have intentional practice on building muscles, dexterity, strength, and precision in a fun and meaningful way. Through exposure and experiences, kids develop these motor skills – and activities can provide a major foundation to that development.

RELATED: With all this talk of fine motor skills, what about handwriting? Read this to learn more about handwriting development in early childhood.

25+ fine motor activities

Each activity has noted what skills are developed during the play. Remember to consider your child, their developmental level, and what will work best for them.

The goal with these activities is always two-fold: for the child to have a playful learning experience and for the parent to get a break or chance to get a household task done while the child plays.

A child holding a turkey baster takes up red water. A yellow cup of water is next to the red one.

Precision Water Transfer

Using a turkey baster, kids squeeze water from containers into ice cube trays. Skills: squeezing, grasping, hand-eye coordination, grip strength.

STICKER LINES: A quick and easy fine motor skill activity; easy toddler activity; easy preschool activity; dot sticker activity; indoor activity; rainy day activity; fine motor activity from Busy Toddler

Dot Sticker Line-Up

Dot stickers are the presidents of the Fine Motor Fan Club. Any activity or play using a dot sticker is fine motor perfection. Skills: pincer grasp, hand-eye coordination, precision.

WATER SCOOP AND TRANSFER - A fun and simple life skills activity; taby activity; toddler activity; activity for two year olds; indoor activity; montessori activity; quick and easy activity; rainy day activity from Busy Toddler

Ladle Lift Transfer

Have your child use a slotted spoon or ladle to scoop and transfer items from one bin to another. I fill one half of this activity with water to make the items float before they’re scooped up. Skills: wrist stability, hand-eye coordination, grip, bi-lateral coordination, strength

Homemade Play Dough

Play dough really is great for building fine motor skills. It’s a hand work out to roll, smoosh, rip, and tear the dough and create. This recipe is the best out there. Skills: Hand strength, pincer grasp, hand-eye coordination.

Toy Rescue

This one is epic: Use painter’s tape to create a web over water. Toss in some favorite toys for your child to rescue with tongs. Skills: pincer grasp, hand-eye coordination, precision, grip strength.

Toddler playing in a rice bin activity from Busy Toddler focusing on scooping and trasnfering rice.

Scoop and Transfer

With just rice, measuring spoons and bowls, kids practice a whole host of fine motor skills. Skills: Wrist stability, spooning skills, hand-eye coordination, precision, bi-lateral coordination.

Golf Tee Hammering

Hammering is a great example of fine motor skills in play. Learning to hammer is a big skill for kids, and this makes it fun. Skills: Hand strength, hand-eye coordination, motor planning.

Flower Cutting

Cutting is a major part of fine motor development, but cutting on paper is tough. Straight lines take years to perfect. Start by cutting non-paper first. Skills: Grasp, precision, hand strength, cutting skills.


Cutting is a major part of fine motor development, but cutting on paper is tough. Straight lines take years to perfect. Start by cutting non-paper first. Skills: Grasp, precision, hand strength, cutting skills.

Baking Soda Dropper

Save your medicine droppers: they’re made for fine motor activities. In this one, it’s colored vinegar, baking soda, and a whole lot of motor work. Skills: pincer grasp, bi-lateral coordination, grip strength, hand-eye coordination.

Simple Cutting Tray

Another great way to practice cutting skills in a low-key way: create a simple cutting tray. Skills: Grasp, precision, hand strength, cutting skills.

Animal Line-Up

This activity merges spatial awareness, motor skills, and a whole lot of imagination. Creating this animal parade takes so much care. Skills: Precision, stability, grasp, in-hand manipulation of the toys.

PRESCHOOLER FINE MOTOR SKILLS ACTIVITY: This match and glue activity is AWESOME! Kids will love this pom pom activity that's so quick and easy to set up; an easy gluing activity for preschoolers from Busy Toddler

Precision Gluing Activity

Gluing is a major life skill that takes major fine motor skills to make happen. This activity has kids practicing their precision gluing skills with wet glue and pom poms. Skills: Grasp, precision, grip strength, squeezing skills.

POURING SKILLS: How do you introduce pouring skills to toddlers? A quick and easy toddler sensory bin activity; a life skills activity for toddlers; pouring station activity; easy indoor activity; montessori activity from Busy Toddler

Water Pouring Station

Pouring is a skill. It’s also a skill you want to help kids learn to grow away from orange juice on the kitchen floor. This activity is how kids learn. Skills: Motor planning, grasp, hand dominance, wrist movement.

Snail Sticky Board

In this activity, kids intricately and carefully place beads, buttons, and stickers onto con-tact paper. It’s a fine motor wonderland. Skills: Precision, pincer grasp, hand-eye coordination.

Shape Painting

Painting is a fantastic way to grow future handwriting skills and fine motor skills without asking a child to put pencil to paper. This activity takes it up a notch by asking kids to paint on a vertical surface. Skills: Arm strength, grasp, wrist movement.

Color Mixing Station

Kids love color mixing – and this activity uses one of the best supplies for growing a child’s grip strength: the peri bottle. Skills: Grasp and release, precision, hand strength, visual motor skills.

Pipe Cleaner Beading

Beading is an amazing way for kids to grow fine motor skills, and using pipe cleaners makes it easier and more successful for toddlers and preschoolers. Skills: Pincer grasp, precision, bilateral coordination, in-hand manipulation of the beads.

PAINTING DINOSAURS PROCESS ART: A silly easy toddler activity painting toy dinosaurs! Toddlers love this quick and easy activity that's perfect for a rainy day; an easy art activity; an easy toddler activity from Busy Toddler

Painting Toys

Another painting activity but this one uses washable paint on favorite toys (don’t worry this comes off). The idea is to give kids a low pressure way to paint and practice manipulating a brush. Skills: Grasp, precision, motor planning.

Color Sorting Game

Sorting pom pom balls with a set of tongs – this takes concentration and skills. Skills: Precision, pincer grasp, hand-eye coordination.

Apple Poke

Grab an apple and some tooth picks: this is an easy activity before snack time. Let kids poke tooth picks into an apple. It sounds simple but it’s perfect. Skills: Pincer grasp, bilateral coordination, strength.

POM POM GRAB AND DROP ACTIVITY: A super easy toddler activity that's so fast to set up; a simple toddler activity; fine motor skills; easy indoor activity; pom pom balls activity; quiet time activity from Busy Toddler

Grab and Drop

I love plastic tongs. Have kids grab pom pom balls and drop them into a creamer bottle. It takes some serious concentration. Skills: Grasp and release, precision, hand strength, hand-eye coordination.

Frequently Asked Questions

What age is best for fine motor activities?

All ages! This list is specifically best for ages 2-5+ years old and developing fine motor skills.

When should kids learn handwriting?

Handwriting takes years of fine motor development. Don’t rush it. Even though writing has become a more common sight in preschools, that’s not what’s developmentally appropriate for most kids. Read my article co-authored with an OT.

When do kids stop doing these kinds of activities?

When they’re ready! Older kids still love activities and activities are still great for developing their fine, precise movements.

Susie Allison, M. Ed

Owner, Creator

Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 2 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.


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