Fine Motor Skills


Fine Motor Skills


FINE MOTOR CONTROL-involves development of manipulation skills in the

hands (small muscle groups) to eventually allow for efficient and precise manipulation of objects.

Sensory motor skills must be well developed for this to occur, including

postural control, sensory modulation and praxis.

Hand Strength


When you look at hand strength, you have to look at the “intrinsic muscles” of the hand. These are the small muscles of the hand that both originate and insert themselves within the palm of the hand. These small muscles will control the fine precision movements of the fingers.

squeezing water squishing gel pinching box


Activities that promote hand strength:

Playdoh with hidden items that need to be dug out. Place the pennies or small beads into the playdoh, roll into a ball, flatten and dig them out.

Squeezing colored water in bottle at the ground or whiteboard.

Weight bearing in prone or quadruped (hand and knees) while performing a fine motor tasks or game.

Squeeze toys such as little fish bath toys that are filled with wather.

Froggy Feeder Game, Bed Bugs

Assorted reachers and grabbers such as tweezers, strawberry huller, pickle picker, chopsticks to pick up and sort small items such as counting bears or pom poms.

Hand weights if needed. Either around the wrist or a weighted glove when doing fine motor tasks.

Roll playdoh into a snake and snip it into pieces with scissors.

Side sitting on extended arm with hand flat while coloring or playing a game.

Use eye droppers with colored water and drop the drops into pre made circles

In-hand manipulation skills


 This is your precision skill. This skill refers to the hand’s ability to move objects within one hand without using other hand. One can “squirrel” objects into their hand by picking up a small object (small bead or coin) using a neat pincer (index finger pad opposing thumb pad) grasp only. The other fingers are closed close to the palm. The index finger and thumb pick up the object and “translate” it into the palm. You can “unsquirrel” by moving that same object out of the palm and into the finger tips without the use of the other hand or “cheating” (using the table or yourself to assist the fingers).

Activities that promote in-hand manipulation skills:

Picking up pennies one at a time for a total of 5 into the palm of the hand, and then getting them one at a time back to the finger tips and place into a bank, or container with a slit.

Using tweezers to pick up small beads and place them on a pipe cleaner.

Hold several small beads in the palm of your hand with just the ring finger and little finger keeping them in place and only use the other fingers to work.

Roll play doh into a ball using only one hand, in your hand. Then with that same hand, make a snake just using your fingers to manipulate the play doh. Once snake is made, use the thumb to bend down the top into the palm again to form a ball.

Hide small items in the play doh and using only the index finger and thumb dig the items out (works on strengthening too).

Make assorted fine motor containers. Put assorted size slits and holes in the tops of plastic containers for a variety of objects to passed through (you can use old spice jars, old Pringles containers, soda bottles with toothpicks, craft sticks, straws, pipe cleaner, paper clips) I have a variety of them that increase in difficulty by decreasing the slit/hole width.

Various store bought games like Connect 4, Bed Bugs (or other games that come with tweezes), Battleship Original, Othello, Operation, Jacks, Trouble, Hi Q, Large pegboard and small peg boards with pegs, Froggy Feeding Fun, Perfection, Lite Brite,

Golf tees placed into Styrofoam with marbles balanced on top.

Match colored clothespins to their color

Putting toothpicks into Styrofoam and put beads on them (you can make a snowman).

in hand translation skills pin man tweezers with pin man

tweezer with small beads  static tripod grasp neat pincer

Shoulder stability, arm strength and wrist control:

When we develop from infancy, we do so by developing from the middle of our body outwards and from our head to our feet for control. Shoulder stability is therefore required first in order for the hand to develop its precision control. This also includes core trunk stability as well. If a child is unable to control their trunk, they will have difficulties with maintaining upright in a seated position. This can lead to inattentiveness as there is so busy concentrating on maintaining sitting they cannot pay attention to what is being said to them.


 Activities that Promote Core Trunk Stability, Shoulder Girdle Stability and wrist control:

Position games and toys on a vertical surface.

Paint, draw, color on a vertical surface such as whiteboard, or easel. 

Color, paint, draw in a prone prop position with the elbows at 90 degrees under the shoulder, and the forearms flat on the surface.

 Workings at a board or easel in tall kneel with your bottom up and not resting on the feet and reaching over head.

Wheelbarrow walking while playing a game or doing a puzzle.

 Quadruped crawling (hands and knees position) with placing pegs at one end of the room and the pegboard at the other end and they crawl slowly (being a lion). The slower the crawl the more control required to perform this skill.

Commando crawling (army crawl). Use the same idea as above.

Prone on scooter board, or sitting on scooter board holding a rope and use the same ideas as above.

Using a net swing in prone and have the child control themselves using their arms on the floor

Working on a therapy ball with reaching overhead, crossing midline and any sort of reach that will allow them to move their center of gravity

prone prop  shoulder stabilization working at easel trampoline

fine motor inside fine motor container contents of box


Bottles with assorted size holes small containers with assorted holes piggy bank

The above are all homemade and most items from the $1 store and school cafeteria. They all fit into one tub with a lid. Great assortment of graded fine motor tasks. Everything has a hole in the top to match the size of the items to pass through them.