Fun Fine Motor Activities for Adults and Kids

There are lots of fun activities at all stages of life that can improve and support fine motor skills. When we talk about fine motor skills it refers to the coordination between small muscles, eyes, hands, and fingers. Tasks like cutting with scissors, manipulating small objects, and painting all help develop this dexterity. Fine motor growth will continue to develop throughout stages of development. Here is a robust collection of fine motor activities for each stage of development, from birth through adulthood.

Infant Activities that Support Fine Motor Development

Infancy is full of so many different stages of development and the growth is rapid. An infant goes from using an instinctive palmar grasp reflex to more refined movements of the hand, wrist, and fingers within the first year of their life. Here are some activities that help to support the development of the hand and dexterity of fine motor skills in infants. 

Grasping Toys

Simple grasping toys will be fun when a baby starts intentionally grasping objects, which happens around 6 months of age. Offering sensory baskets to allow your baby to explore is wonderful for their development. Offering objects that are easy to grasp and bring to their mouth will support their development perfectly.

Square basket with a metal bell a ball, a wooden ring and a white ribbon

Eating finger food and developing the pincer grasp

Starting solid foods is a great way for fine motor skill refinement. A baby’s ability to pick up pieces of food will change drastically in the months following their first foods. We can support them best by offering large pieces of safely prepared food, like strips of cooked sweet potato, so they can hold on to them easily. This follows an approach called baby-led weaning which will provide the best opportunities for fine motor development. 

Stacking Blocks

Stacking up blocks or knocking down your creations are all ways a baby is learning to control the movements of their hands and wrists. Take time to model how to stack blocks and give opportunities for them to try as well.

Blocks stacked

Knobbed Puzzles

Puzzles offer great opportunities to work on coordination. Initially, this work will begin with them just removing the puzzle piece from the frame, but over time they will become more interested in putting the pieces back as well. 

Wooden puzzle with three shapes with wooden knobs. (From left to right) a square, a circle, and a triangle.

Placing objects in and out of a container

In and out, in and out. Babies love to see relationships between objects. We can have baskets with objects or containers with items. They will enjoy putting things in and taking them back out. 

Pop-up Peg Toy

This pop-up toy is an all-time favorite toy. It promotes grasping early on but later develops into an ability to push the pegs down and pop them back up, typically leading to giggles and lots more repetition. A pop-up peg toy will meet your child’s needs during infancy and into toddlerhood!

Montessori Pop-up Toy

Supporting Fine-Motor skill in Preschool-Age Children

Three to 6-year-olds need a variety of different kinds of activities throughout their day. Lots of everyday activities like food preparation, folding towels, or doing a cute fine motor craft like plate sewing are all fun ways to fill a day with productive activity! Here are six fine motor examples and some favorite activities for children this age. 

Plate Sewing

Take a small paper plate and trace a design on the back of it. Then, using a hole punch, punch holes into the plate around the design. Using a tapestry needle and yarn, a preschool-age child can begin sewing along the shape.

Food preparation

Opportunities in the kitchen will continue to expand as a child get’s older. Cracking eggs, peeling hard-boiled eggs, rolling out cookie dough, stirring, measuring, scooping, and pouring are all skills that will develop more fine motor skill refinement. 

Sticker Books

A simple sticker book offers the unique skill of removing stickers from a page, this can be quite challenging for a child at first. We can remove the outline from a sticker page to make it easier for the child to peel the stickers off. 

Sticker book.

Puzzles

Large jigsaw floor puzzles and puzzles with more and more pieces will be of interest at this age. Puzzles are an example of an activity that involves the eyes and the fingers to work together to accomplish a task. Puzzles also allow for problem-solving skills to emerge.

Folding and Hanging

Practical life activities like folding towels or hanging clothes on a hanger will naturally be appealing to a preschool-aged child who loves to help! We can also have a small clothesline and clothespins for them to hang up wet towels on after cleaning up a spill. 

Playdough

Children love playing with playdough! It is a fun activity that offers a sensorial expereince while also offering opportunities to develop more fine motor skills. By offering playdough tools like a rolling pin, knives, and molds we will create more opportunities for children to improve their fine motor skills. Other sensory activities like a water table or a dry oatmeal sensory bin are a fun tool 

Child playing with playdough.

Elementary Activities for Fine Motor Development

Finger Knitting

Finger knitting is something I introduced to my students during my time in the classroom and they all loved it. It is a fun activity to do while listening to a story or on a rainy day. I found finger knitting a handwork activity that a young elementary-aged child, even about 6 years old, could learn how to do! 

Button Sewing

There will likely be a time when a button is loose or you are ready to introduce your child to how to sew on a button. Honestly, this isn’t a skill I learned how to do until I was an adult and I simply needed to be able to mend a pair of pants. Small skills like this are both great fine motor activities as well as a very practical skill to know how to do. You never know when you are going to need to bust out that emergency sewing kit to save the day! Sewing small buttons will offer a greater challenge, but using a larger button, especially during the learning and teaching process will be easier. 

Hands sewing on a button to a shirt.

Origami

Origami is an activity great for developing patience, precision, and fine motor skills. It can be a hobby that you can grow into more challenging projects with. 

Embroidery

Embroidery is a personal favorite of mine. There are so many different embroidery stitches you can learn and simple or complex projects to do. Embroidery can be done to make a simple tea towel more beautiful or enhance a simple pillow into something extra special. Embroidery is another hobby that can extend into many different stages of life, always with new opportunities to challenge yourself and be creative.

Hands embroidering a leaf and flower on fabric.

Drawing

Learning how to draw is something you can learn how to do. I remember when I learned how to draw. I was taught to see and think about objects and scenes as lots of lines. You need to allow your eyes to see how those lines connect. Instead of drawing what I think the thing looks like, I could draw what I see just by following the lines. I taught my first, second, and third-grade students how to do this and the outcomes were amazing! Drawing is a perfect example of the important connection between the hand and your eyes. They can work together to make something beautiful. Many small muscles of the hand are required to work when you bring that pen or pencil to a piece of paper. 

Perler Beads

This was one of the best activities as a kid! A child will have a great time making cute fine motor crafts like coasters, wall art, and seasonal decor. Little fingers are great at getting those perler beads onto the frame. 

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Adolescent and Adult Fine Motor Activities

Pointillism

Pointillism is a type of artwork that I remember doing in high school. These pieces of artwork are formed by tiny colored dots in patterns that then make up a whole form. From a distance, it may look similar to another painting, but up close you can see the detail that went into making a picture with this method. 

Picture of the side of a mountain and a body of water done with tiny painted dots, called pointilism.

Fishing 

Believe it or not, fishing requires a lot of hand-eye coordination. Tying fishing knots, attaching new lures, and possibly making lures yourself. 

Fishing knot being tied.

Crocheting and Knitting

Both crocheting and knitting require fine motor skills. You can make beautiful projects with these handwork skills.

Cross Stitch

Cross stitch is a needlework that uses x-shaped stitches to create beautiful designs and images. A special fabric is used for cross-stitching. Cross stitch is similar to embroidery work but has a little more of a guide because of the nature of the x-shaped stitching and the patterns you follow.

Hands doing cross stitch on an embroidery hoop.

Calligraphy 

Calligraphy is such a beautiful art form and skill that requires practice, creativity, and fine motor control. There are so many styles, fonts, and ways to do calligraphy. Calligraphy has been a way I have been able to enhance gifts for friends and family as well as create beautiful cards. 

Cake Decorating 

A beautiful and tasty hobby! Decorating cakes is a special skill but one that will make those around you happy. Controlling the movements of the pipping bag to create beautiful lettering or make an elegant flower are all skills you could learn how to do!

A person decorating a cake.

Playing a Musical Instrument

Any musical instrument will likely involve manual dexterity and fine motor skills. Many instruments will develop hand muscles which will help with fine motor control. 

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