Fine motor control is crucial in a young child’s development as it forms the foundation for skills like writing and drawing, and self-care tasks like getting dressed.
Here are some fine motor games for preschool kids that are specifically designed to strengthen small muscles. They are simple ideas for games to play, rather than regular activities such as threading, painting, beading, etc.
1. Egg and Spoon Race
An egg and spoon race is a great way for children to practise hand-eye coordination and hand-steadiness. It takes a lot for little hands to balance an egg (or other object) on the spoon without dropping it, while walking at the same time.
Unless you’re feeling very brave you might want to boil the eggs first. You can also play this game with other small objects such as balls or stones, or balance bean bags on a larger spoon.
Young kids can pick up their egg and continue their race if it drops on the floor, but older children can be expected to return to the starting line to start over if their egg drops. The winner is the first to cross the finish line.
2. Stacking Cups
Use plastic, foam or paper cups for this simple game. Set a challenge for kids to build the tallest tower they can out of cups. They can work in groups or individually.
This is a fun way to build concentration and learn to control the small hand muscles.
For all these games, keep in mind that older children can cope better with losing, whereas you might want to bend the rules a little for 3 to 5-year-olds, or concentrate on playing for fun instead of the end result.
3. Stacking Blocks
Similar to the previous game, challenge children to stack building blocks as high as they can without the tower toppling.
This game requires careful hand movements and coordination. It is also a good way to get children to collaborate and work together towards a common goal, which builds their social skills.
4. Fishing Game
A fishing game is perfect for fine motor development.
Attach paper clips to small toys or paper fish cut-outs and create a fishing rod with a string and a magnet at the end. Children can “fish” for toys in a small tub.
5. Sorting Pom Poms
Use an egg timer or set a timer for a few minutes. Children must sort all the pom poms according to colour in an ice cube tray or egg carton, using a tweezer to lift one at a time, before the time is up.
You could try a similar challenge to this one, sorting coloured beads onto pipe cleaners. Here are some fun ways to teach colour recognition.
6. Race with Droppers
Set up a water dropper race. Children can use droppers to transfer water from one container to another. This game helps develop the pincer grasp and strengthens the little hand muscles.
7. Balancing Game
Set up a balance game using small objects like marbles, small figurines or other everyday items. Children must carefully stack and balance the objects, improving their hand stability and control.
8. Marble Run
Set up a marble run toy or create your own version with cardboard tubes or toilet paper rolls. Children can place marbles at the top and watch them roll down, or race against each other.
9. Simon Says
Play a classic game of Simon Says, with a focus on fine motor exercise. Here are a few examples:
- Simon says click your fingers
- Simon says sing and do the actions to Incy Wincy Spider
- Simon says pick up three stones in the garden
- Simon says tie your shoelaces
- Simon says draw a picture with your pencil
10. Pass the Parcel
Pass the Parcel is a traditional party game that can also be a great fine motor activity. It can be played with 3 or more children.
The wrapped parcel is passed around the circle as the music plays, and when it stops, the child holding the parcel must remove one layer of wrapping.
For young kids, place enough gifts for everyone in the parcel. The child who unwraps the last layer wins the prize or hands out the prizes to everyone.
11. Paper Airplane Folding
Teach children how to fold a basic paper airplane with a piece of paper. Hold a flying contest to see whose airplane can fly the farthest.
This activity requires a lot of control and young kids will need assistance.
12. Paper Plate Target Toss
Using markers, draw targets in different shapes onto paper plates (circles, squares, triangles, etc). The shapes should be big enough for pom poms to fit inside. Cut out these shapes and place the plates on the ground or on a low table.
Kids can take turns aiming and throwing the pom poms into the targets from a short distance away.
Playing a game of toss is excellent for building fine and gross motor skills (like aiming and hand-eye coordination).
13. Rubber Band Contest
This is a fun game but needs adult supervision and children who are mature enough to not aim the rubber bands at other children!
Children can line up against a wall, aim and flick their rubber bands towards the other side of the room or class, taking note of whose band landed the furthest. Make sure to write each child’s name on their band.
14. Pick Up Sticks
Pick Up Sticks is a great game for building focus and finger control. It is difficult for young kids to play but they will still enjoy the challenge of making sure the sticks don’t move.
If you don’t have a set, play this with straws, twigs or long cocktail sticks.
These games offer a wide range of options for strengthening fine motor skills in preschool children while keeping them engaged and entertained. Here is a list of the best fine motor activities for kids.
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