In the early years of school, students are developing their fine motor skills as well as learning how to read and write. Many play-based learning activities and educational toys can not only target a child's fine motor skills, but they can also be a great way to consolidate educational skills too.
This blog post contains some of the best fine motor toys and sensory toys for getting little hands moving, and my favourite fine motor activities. Many of these fine motor skills toys and hands-on activities can also double up as learning resources too!
So, what are some of my favourite toys for fine motor skill development, which can be easily incorporated into your daily routines?
Jumbo tweezers are great for fine motor development and practising the pincer grasp, and they are also another fun way to mix up your phonics games. In the pictured activity, students use the tweezers to pick up pom poms and place over the matching CVC words on the gum-ball machines.
There are lots of fun ways to use handy scoopers with young children - they can be used to pick up any small objects such as pom poms, ping pong balls and more. They are pictured here being incorporated with water play, where students had to scoop up the words and read them.
RAINBOW RICE AND KINETIC SAND
Rice and sand are great for sensory play with young kids. Children could simply draw various shapes or patterns in the rice and sand. I also love to get children practising their letter formation, or writing decodable words. Rice and sand can also be great for open-ended play set ups and sensory bins activities.
Twisty droppers are another great toy that can be used to incorporate a bit of water play into your learning activities, as well as build a child's fine motor skills by strengthening finger muscles. Children can use twisty droppers to make letters, numbers, patterns or more.
Large pieces of chalk are a great way to build up hand strength, and there are so many different activities that you can use them for. From drawing patterns, writing decodable words, solving number problems, or just encouraging children to work as a team to create artworks and develop their social skills, sidewalk chalk is a fantastic addition to your teacher toolbox.
Wikki Stix are another great tool for building fine motor muscles and finger control. I love to get children creating decodable words with them.
There are lots of different ways to use bingo dabbers in the classroom. I get students to dab letters and numbers, create patterns and number problems, and practise their subitising skills by rolling a dice and dabbing the matching number of dots. The added bonus is that they are also building their eye-hand coordination at the same time!
I use pegs or clips for lots of different fine motor play activities & literacy/numeracy activities e.g. peg the syllables, peg the rhyming words, peg the number. They are great for building fine motor control in little fingers!
Mini pegs can be great for building hand eye coordination, and the small pieces are a great way to develop precise movements. Here's an example of them in use with my 'hang the clothes' phonics activity - students hang the sounds to create decodable words. I made the washing line using two paper towel holders from Kmart!
Play dough is one of my favourite tools to support the development of fine motor skills, and it never gets old with the kids! They always have so much fun! There are so many ways that it can be used to also support learning including:
- Making your own name
- Alphabet mats
- Number mats
- Stamping decodable words
- Making words
- Making different shapes
These are great learning tools that are utilised every day in my classroom, and I love how they can be used for fine motor practice with younger kids as well!
Popsicle sticks are so versatile. I use them for number and phonics activities, but here are some of the ways that I use them to work on a child's fine motor skills as well.
Making or extending patterns - these are great for developing problem-solving skills as well.
Creating designs- provide students with the sticks and some MAB Base 10 single blocks- you’ll be totally amazed at what they come up with!
Building toys like unifix or snap cubes are another very versatile resource that are used in so many lessons, and are also great for building fine motor skills!
Building Number Towers
Making letters or numbers
Chopsticks can be a quite tricky for younger children to master, but they can improve a child's ability to have greater control over the little muscles in their hands.
Some of the ways that you can use pony beads to help strengthen hand muscles include:
- Make patterns by threading onto shoelaces or pipe cleaners.
- Make your own name
- Make numbers
- Colour sorting
One of the favourite fine motor activities in my classroom is this Pom Pom Ice cream activity- it is available for free on Mrs Learning Bee. Use jumbo tweezers, scoops or tongs (mine are from Modern Teaching Aids) to create the ice-creams.
Other ideas for using pom poms:
- Pom Pom letters or numbers- use tweezers, pegs or chopsticks to place pom poms on letter or number templates.
- Pom pom sorting- lay out different coloured bowls or egg cartons, and ask the kids to sort into colours.
- Pom Pom patterns- creating patterns using pom poms
- Pom Pom Ice cubes- the kids have to transfer pom poms into these ice cube trays using tweezers.
- Pom Pom Challenge - place some ribbon across a bowl to create an extra challenge for students when collecting their pom poms. Using a peg is also a different alternative to tongs or tweezers.
Want to learn more about fine motor skills development?
Download my FREE Fine Motor Handbook and unlock a full overview of fine motor development!
In this comprehensive guide, you'll discover:
The various stages of fine motor growth
Valuable tips for pencil grip technique
Loads of activity ideas with detailed visual aids
Creative craft ideas for fine motor
Early intervention suggestions
Inspiring accounts that provide further ideas.