We all use fine motor skills every day without even noticing it. Tying our shoes, buttoning our shirt, feeding ourselves, and brushing our teeth all require fine motor skills, which involve using the small muscles of our hands and wrists. The development of these skills begins at birth and continues to develop over the course of childhood. Perfecting these skills becomes even more important as kids start school since classroom tasks like writing and cutting are dependent on a student’s hand-eye coordination. Bilateral coordination and balance are other examples of fine motor skills that require practice. Check out our list of the best fine motor activities for you to use in your classroom!
Fine Motor Activities for Preschool / Toddlers
1. Process Art Sculpture
The setup for this activity is so simple—it requires only some foam blocks, pipe cleaners, and beads. Be sure to have a variety of beads and colored pipe cleaners so students can really personalize their sculptures.
Learn more: School Time Snippets
2. Fruit Loop and Spaghetti Stringing
Kids will love this activity, however, you will want to make sure to check for allergies before proceeding. Always have some extra fruit loops on hand since kids will likely steal a few!
Learn more: School Time Snippets
3. Button Squiggles and Swirls
Draw squiggles and swirls on card stock, then let students line buttons of different shapes and colors along those lines.
Learn more: Learning 4 Kids
4. Counting With Elastics
We love that this is a fine motor activity that also teaches counting. All you’ll need are oversized Popsicle sticks and a ton of little elastics.
Learn more: Little School of Smiths
5. Pom-Poms in Water Bottles
This is the perfect activity to work on bilateral coordination since kids will have to hold the bottle with one hand while stuffing the pom-poms in with the other.
Learn more: The OT Toolbox
6. Pom-Pom Sorting
Instead of building with all of those mega blocks you have in the classroom, why not turn them upside down and repurpose them for a color-sorting activity? You’ll also need some pom-poms in corresponding colors and some plastic tweezers.
Learn more: Happy Toddler Playtime
7. Cardboard Roll and Straw Threading
Cut up some toilet paper rolls, then have your students work on punching holes in them. Add another fine motor activity by having your students thread straws through those holes.
Learn more: Laughing Kids Learn
8. Dinosaur Spikes
Print and laminate some dinosaurs in different colors and have your students practice attaching clothespins in matching colors to their backs.
Learn more: Oh Hey, Let’s Play
9. Animal Tape Rescue
Little ones will certainly get a kick out of “freeing” the animals from the floor or whatever surface you decide. You can work on hand-eye coordination while also working on animal recognition.
Learn more: Messy Little Monster
10. Sticker Color Sorting
This activity is so simple yet it works on both fine motor skills and color recognition.
Learn more: Busy Toddler
11. Another Animal Rescue
Here’s another adorable animal rescue mission for your little ones. This time, they will have to remove the elastics to free their animal buddies!
Learn more: Team Cartwright
12. Colorful Rainbow Hair
This might just be the cutest pipe-cleaner-and-bead fine motor activity we have ever seen!
Learn more: Toddler Approved
13. Button Sorting
Find some small bowls with lids, cut slits in the top, then let your students sort different-colored buttons into the appropriate containers. Kids will be working on their hand-eye coordination while also practicing color recognition.
Learn more: About Family Crafts
14. Pumpkin Sorting Bin
This is the perfect fine motor/sensory activity for October, although it would be fun anytime! Grab some small pumpkin containers and orange pom-poms or small pumpkin candies, then let your students see how many pumpkins they can pick up.
Learn more: I Heart Crafty Things
15. Q-Tip and Straw Activity
Another threading activity, this time using cotton swabs and straws. We love how inexpensive this activity is to pull together!
Learn more: Mess for Less
16. Holiday Tree Balance Activity
Despite this being a Christmas tree, you could easily make it non-denominational by simply creating a forest in your classroom using green painter’s tape. Have students practice their balance by walking along the limbs of the tree.
Learn more: The Inspired Treehouse
17. Quiet Books
Quiet books are soft books that often contain real-life tasks for little ones to complete like tying shoelaces or buttoning buttons. Purchase some to include in your class library, or if you’re feeling really crafty, make one yourself!
Learn more: My Mommy Style
Fine Motor Activities for Elementary Students
18. Pushpin Mazes
If you’re doing this activity with older elementary students, you will be able to let them design their writing patterns with the pushpins before they practice their writing skills following the maze.
Learn more: Planning Playtime
19. Yarn Wrapping
Yarn wrapping is so fun, and it makes for the perfect craft for elementary school–age students. Be sure to have plenty of varieties of yarn so your students can really express themselves.
Learn more: The Pinterested Parent
20. Perler Beads
Since stringing beads onto pipe cleaners might not be challenging enough for elementary-age students, why not try Perler beads? In addition to the hand-eye coordination required to put the small beads on the boards, it will also take patience and determination. Having an extra adult on hand to handle the ironing will help!
Learn more: Mama in the Now
21. Beaded Friendship Bracelets
A childhood staple for generations, kids will love creating these cute beaded bracelets to keep or give as gifts.
Learn more: Projects With Kids
22. Play Dough Writing
Practicing handwriting can be tedious, but practicing it in play dough can liven it up a bit.
Learn more: Fantastic Fun and Learning
23. Stack the Erasers
Roll some dice, then have your students stack mini erasers to get to the desired number. Keep stacking until they fall over!
Learn more: School Time Snippets
24. LEGO Challenge
Since most kids love LEGO, this fine motor activity is sure to be a hit in your classroom. Come up with daily or weekly challenges for your students, then watch them get to work. You may need to ask for donations of LEGO bricks from friends and families.
Learn more: Life Over C’s
25. Edible Toothpick Sculptures
Provide your students with grapes or marshmallows and countless toothpicks, then watch their creativity flow!
Learn more: Artful Parent
26. Paper Weaving
First, have students cut up strips of paper and magazines, then have them practice weaving them through slits in paper.
Learn more: Babble Dabble Do
27. Bean Mosaic Art
Older kids will really excel at painting beans and then arranging them into creative mosaics.
Learn more: Pretty Life Girls
28. Braiding Boards
Braiding is the perfect activity for older elementary students to work on their hand-eye coordination. Similar to tying shoelaces, braiding requires patience and mastery that is age-appropriate for elementary students.
Learn more: Happy Hooligans