Fine motor skills involve using the small muscles that control the hand, fingers, thumb and wrist. These muscles are super important for performing tasks such as getting dressed, eating, writing, coloring, turning pages in a book, playing musical instruments, and playing sports.
Little learners need lots of practice building these crucial skills. It’s important to incorporate lots of fine motor activities so that they can strengthen their muscles.
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DIY Fine Motor Activities
Here are 12 free choice or maker station activities to help kindergarteners get busy building those fine motor skills.
Get poking with pegboards.
My students have always loved pegboards. It’s a free choice activity that I would keep out year-round. They are great for fine motor skills because students have to pick up these little pieces and put them through the tiny holes on the boards. They can create a picture design, or just practice putting the pegs through the holes.
Just thread it.
Hit up the dollar section or garage sales to find a collection of preprinted lacing cards. Or make your own using laminated pictures with holes punched around the edges.
Students use shoelaces with a plastic tip to lace around the edges. Another fun idea is to cut plastic straws into short segments and lace straw segments onto pipe cleaners.
Roll the dough.
This one might be a no-brainer. But play dough makes for some fantastic fine motor activities. Students who are squeezing, squishing, and rolling the dough are strengthening those hand muscles which will later help them write, color, cut, and more. Best of all they can twist and create shapes and designs.
If you’re looking to add some academic to your play dough center, these Alphabet and Number Play Dough Mats will help you do just that.
Sort the small stuff.
Here’s an activity that practices two skills in one: sorting and fine motor. You can use a muffin tin and have students sort tiny beads or objects.
Don’t worry, there’s no glue involved in this one. All you need for this activity is paper and stickers. Those sticker books that contain like a million little stickers are great for this activity.
The act of removing stickers from a page and then placing them on the paper is great fine motor practice. Plus, what kid doesn’t love stickers? You can draw shapes, letters, even their name and have students cover the lines with stickers.
If you’ve followed my blog for awhile, you know that I love using bingo dabbers – so much that I’ve created an entire line of bingo dabber printables. There are so many educational benefits to using bingo dabbers.
As students purposely dab the paper they are strengthening fine motor AND practicing hand-eye coordination. You don’t need anything fancy, just bingo dabbers and a piece of paper. Have students practice dabbing the paper to make lines and shapes, forming letters and numbers, and making pictures.
Just punch it.
Set out a collection of decorative hole punches and a stack of scrap paper. Lots of different colors of paper make this activity extra inviting. Students hole punch holes around edges, in lines, or make fancy designs. You might want to have some tidy tubs on the table for students to put their scraps in.
Pick it up.
Or should I say scoop it up? These fun scoopers are perfect for small hands, not to mention they are also SO great for practicing fine motor skills. You can put some foam letters in water and have students pick up the letters and say their names.
Or if you’re looking for a “drier” activity, have students scoop up mini erasers. They can dump their pile in front of them and count to see how many they got.
Turn it into a math game by having students compare how many they scooped verses their partner. The player that scooped the most wins that round!
Plop the beans.
For this activity you need empty water bottles and small beans. Students pinch dried beans between fingers and plop them into 16 ounce plastic bottles.
If you have a large sensory type bin or cookie sheets, have students use those as a work station. Otherwise, they may really spill the beans – and have them all over the floor!
Have students weave pipe cleaners over and under the wires of a cooling rack (the kind you cool cookies on). You can also use ribbon for this activity.
You can also have students turn a kitchen colander upside down. Poke pipe cleaners through the holes and string beads or penne pasta on the pipe cleaners. (If you don’t have a colander, a pile of play dough works too.
Cutting it out.
Supply students with magazines and large chart paper. Allow students to work as a group on the floor. Give each group a topic such as animals, things that are red, things that you eat, etc.
Have them look through magazines and cut out pictures relating to that topic. Once they find a picture that fits the topic, they cut it out and glue it on the chart paper. Cutting and gluing are both great for fine motor!
In a pinch.
Have students use clothespins to pick up small pom-poms and transfer them to ice cube trays or egg cartons. You can have students sort the pom-poms by color. Or number the ice cube trays and have students put that many pom-poms in each space.
There are so many fun, engaging fine motor activities to help kindergarteners build and strengthen those small muscles. Rotate a few of these ideas through your station time and watch them learn as they play.