What Are Fine Motor Skills in Children? - Development, Definition & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 What are Fine Motor Skills?
  • 0:40 How Do We Help…
  • 1:45 Notable…
  • 2:15 Fine Motor Skills from…
  • 4:36 Lesson Summary
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Vidhi Desai
Think of toddlers at a daycare, or the young actors in the movie 'The Kindergarten Cop.' What comes to mind? Is it small children doing arts and crafts or possibly running around with scissors? These are examples of fine motor skills, which children should develop around this age.

What Are Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills are achieved when children learn to use their smaller muscles, like muscles in the hands, fingers, and wrists. Children use their fine motor skills when writing, holding small items, buttoning clothing, turning pages, eating, cutting with scissors, and using computer keyboards. Mastery of fine motor skills requires precision and coordination.

fine motor skills

Fine motor skills develop after gross motor skills, which control actions like throwing and kicking balls, as well as walking and jumping. Gross motor skills utilize larger muscle groups and require less precision.

How Do We Help Children Develop Fine Motor Skills?

Practice, practice, practice. In most cases of fine motor skill development, practice does, in fact, make perfect. Some ways to develop these skills are having children do the following activities:

  • Pop bubbles on bubble wrap with just the index finger and thumb.
  • Use an eyedropper to add food coloring to batter with just the index finger and thumb.
  • Finger painting
  • Puzzles
  • Video games
  • Trace shapes or letters
  • Legos or building blocks

These activities focus on smaller muscle groups. Using the same muscles can help children develop muscle memory, which is when repetition of one action allows that action to be performed almost automatically without much effort. For example, pressing the correct buttons on video game controllers can be difficult the first few tries. But after playing the game a few times, we tend to master the buttons on the controller. Whether or not we can master the video game itself is a different story, but it does become second nature to press certain buttons to run or jump in the game.

Notable Accomplishments in Fine Motor Skill Development

Two popular terms that come up with learning about fine motor skills in children are fist grip and pincer grip. An example of a fist grip is when children use their whole hand and wrap it around a pencil to write their names. A pincer grip refers to the pinching muscles. Eventually, most children learn to use a pencil with their thumb and one or two fingers, which indicates that they have developed the pincer grip. When it comes to terminology for this lesson, grip and grasp are interchangeable.

Fine Motor Skills From Birth to Age Five

0 to 3 months

  • Grasping: The baby, Billy, can hold objects for a few seconds. An example is babies holding their parents' fingers. This is close to a fist grip.

3 to 6 months

  • Palmar grasp: This is also known as the fist grip. Billy can hold an object for up to a minute, using the palm and fingers (the whole fist).

6 to 9 months

  • Inferior pincer grasp: Billy can pick up a small object, like a Cheerio, by putting the forearm on the table and using the side of the thumb and the first fingers.

9 to 12 months

  • Isolated index finger: Billy can point to an object using only the index finger.
  • Self-feeding: Billy can use fingers to eat a small piece of food.

12-15 months

  • Superior pincer grasp: Billy can pick up and release a small object, like a Cheerio, by using the index finger and the thumb without support of the forearm. At this point, he can also turn the pages of a book, although sometimes turning many at once.

15 months to 1 ½ years

  • Billy can hold a spoon or a crayon using the thumb, fingers, and the palm.

1 ½ to 2 years

  • Billy can string large beads and imitate the drawing of circles and lines.

2 to 2 ½ years

  • Digital pronated grasp: Billy can hold a crayon with the thumb and all other fingers. He can also learn to cut with safety scissors, use a fork to eat, and get dressed into easy-wear clothing, like hats, t-shirts, and elastic-waist pants.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher
What is your educational goal?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 49 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Click "next lesson" whenever you finish a lesson and quiz. Got It
You now have full access to our lessons and courses. Watch the lesson now or keep exploring. Got It
You're 25% of the way through this course! Keep going at this rate,and you'll be done before you know it.
The first step is always the hardest! Congrats on finishing your first lesson. Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
Way to go! If you watch at least 30 minutes of lessons each day you'll master your goals before you know it. Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
Congratulations on earning a badge for watching 10 videos but you've only scratched the surface. Keep it up! Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
You've just watched 20 videos and earned a badge for your accomplishment! Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
You've just earned a badge for watching 50 different lessons. Keep it up, you're making great progress! Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
You just watched your 100th video lesson. You have earned a badge for this achievement! Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
Congratulations! You just finished watching your 200th lesson and earned a badge! Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
Congratulations! You just finished watching your 300th lesson and earned a badge! Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
You are a superstar! You have earned the prestigious 500 video lessons watched badge. Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
Incredible. You have just entered the exclusive club and earned the 1000 videos watched badge. Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
You have earned a badge for watching 20 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 50 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 100 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 250 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 500 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 1000 minutes of lessons.