Fine Motor Skills Activities & Exercises for Kids

Instructor: Abigail Cook
Writing, drawing, and completing other simple classroom tasks be especially challenging for a child who has trouble using fine motor skills. Let's look at a few classroom activities that will help to improve fine motor skills.

Fine Motor Skills

When children use the small muscles in their hands and arms, they are developing fine motor skills. Grasping, holding, pointing, and throwing, are all examples of skills that require the use of the small hand muscles. Fine motor skills become more important as children enter school and begin to draw and write. The ability to do simple tasks like holding a pencil or crayon, opening a pencil box, or zipping a backpack all depend on a child's fine motor skills.

Children begin practicing fine motor skills as early as two months old and continue using these skills through adulthood. When a child has poor coordination or weak muscles, their fine motor skills may be affected. There are several fun and engaging ways in which teachers can help their students develop fine motor skills. Let's take a look at some of these activities and how you might implement them in your classroom.

Fine Motor Activities

Many of these ideas are geared more toward kids in elementary grades, but you could adapt any of these activities to fit the needs of older students as well.

Modeling clay

Handling modeling clay requires kids to hold, pull, stretch, and flatten which all help to strengthen hand muscles. You might consider pulling modeling clay out a few times a week to support an art lesson. You can cut out pieces of clay with cookie cutters in the shape of letters to support phonics or spelling units.

Finger paint

Allow your students to paint on thick art paper using their fingers instead of paint brushes. This creative activity teaches students to isolate their fingers and use them independently of each other. You could also allow students to 'paint' their desks using shaving cream. Spray their desks with shaving cream, and have them use their fingers to draw. Older students may use these methods to practice writing their names or spelling words.


Most elementary school classrooms include coloring activities to support learning, practice creativity, and give students a break. Coloring with different materials will help challenge students who have a hard time holding something in their hands. Thin and thick markers, colored pencils, and crayons all require practice in holding and applying pressure to make the color show up. Using broken crayons adds another level of difficulty because the small and odd shapes require a stronger grasp.

Cutting with Scissors

Cutting practice helps improve hand-eye coordination. Students can practice cutting paper by following a dotted line. You can design the cutting pattern according to different levels of difficulty. Cutting straight lines, zig zag lines, and curved lines will all help students become better at manipulating scissors and paper.

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