Top Tips: Promoting Fine Motor Control

September 14, 2013 Published by

Fine motor skills are the small pincer (finger) movements required to successfully manipulate objects.  Fine motor skills can be broken into three smaller components:

Grasping: using pencils, brush, pens, sticks.

Manipulating: playdough, scissors, finger play and sewing.

Hand-eye-coordination: writing, threading , moving a mouse on a computer.

Encourage children to engage in the following fun activities to improve their fine motor skills

  • Using Scissors: Children use their tripod fingers (the thumb, forefinger and middle finger) and when these work together, they strengthen a child’s hand muscles and help the grasp movement that children need for holding pencils and to handwrite. Encourage your children to cut things out, so they become familiar with the movements required and so their muscles become stronger.Fine motor control, cutting, scissors
  • Playing with playdoh: This material can strengthen a child’s fine motor development as a variety of hand movements are needed, such as: rolling, squashing, pinching, pushing, moulding.
  • Threading, weaving and sewing: Activities such as threading wool onto buttons helps development hand eye coordination but also develops fine motor control. If you do not have anything to sew onto, why not get a colander from the kitchen and use the holes to thread wool or string through. Children can experiment fine motor control movement by screwing bolts onto nuts and will learn how they need to manipulate objects using their fingers to successfully get a bolt onto a nut. When children have mastered this skill, try teaching them how to tie their shoe laces.
  • Origami: Origami for older children is a great way to continue to develop fine motor control. This craft involves precise folding and a pincer grip to hold pens to draw. Games such as Cootie catcher/chatterbox involve  using thumbs and index finger to play them, further refining a child’s motor development.
  • Playing an instrument: especially instruments that require plucking strings and the piano promote fine motor control, as well as hand eye coordination.
  • Building: Lego or building blocks promote fine motor control and thus strengthen hand muscles. Peg boards are also a great way to promote fine motor control as well as developing colour and pattern recognition.
  • Chop Stick challenge: Give a child a pair of chopsticks and ask them to pick variety of objects up that will strengthen hand muscles and develop their fine motor control. Objects should be different in texture and size. Here are some ideas; popcorn, smarties, rice, jellied sweet, beans pasta and couscous. Children may become frustrated as they may not be able to pick certain things up, but encouragement and perseverance is key. This activity will teach children how chopsticks have to be manipulate in order to successfully pick objects up.
  • Finger food: Letting your children feed themselves with small pieces of food (e.g. raisins) and encouraging older children to hold cutlery correctly strengthens fine motor control.
  • Finger games and songs: Hand and clapping movements such as Incy Wincy Spider promote fine motor control.
  • Peeling and sticking stickers : Activity books that include stickers promote hand eye coordination and pincer movements.
  • Puzzles and board games: Logo What Am I?, My World Puzzles and Monopoly all promote fine motor movements as counters and die need picking up, moving and rolling.


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This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer

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