5 Ways to Improve Fine Motor Skills Using Every Day Items

Ok, school is just around the corner and sometime this can mean that parents begin to wonder if their child is “school ready”. As Occupational Therapists we are all about being creative with the most simple of household items.

What are Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills are the ability to make movements using the small muscles in our hands and wrists. Fine motor skills are the foundations for learning to write, and that is why it is important for children to improve these skills.

There are so many ways to improve fine motor skills and I have gathered 5 ways to improve fine motor skills using everyday items in your home.

1. Threading drinking Straws

Threading drinking StrawsAll you need is drinking straws (either plastic or paper) and some shoe laces or wool! Cut the drinking straws into shorter lengths and let your child thread them onto an old shoe lace or yarn. You can let them thread the straws by colour.

For older children, you can let them create simple AB patterns using different coloured straws and practice counting as they insert the straw onto the shoe lace or yarn.

2. Play dough

child slicing Play dough

Children love play dough! It has endless possibilities. They can squish it, mash it, flatten it and make them to different shapes and animals. You can let your child put buttons, beads or small toys on the pay dough and encourage them to make “creatures” out of them. This also enhances their imagination and creativity.

3. Drawing on shaving cream

Who knew shaving cream could be used to improve fine motor skills? Spray some shaving cream on a large tray and spread it out with a popsicle stick. Let your child draw different animals, people or things. You can give your child some sight word on a piece of paper and have them trace the word in the shaving cream with the stick. To add a bit of fun, you can do this activity using fingers as well. This activity combines, fine motor skills, letter writing practice and sensory experience!

4. Transferring using Kitchen tongs

Transferring using Kitchen tongs

Kitchen tongs are a fantastic tool for fine motor skills! On a tray, you can put little toys (toy insects, animals, etc) and let your little one transfer each toy to the other tray.

5. Pegs


Using pegs makes a fine motor activity! They utilise those tiny muscles in the thumb and pointer finger. You can let your child put the pegs onto the lip of the bucket and then let them all off.

That’s it! It’s so easy to improve fine motor skills using what you already have. It’s fun, creative and will surely make children occupied while hitting some goals.

If you are concerned that your child is having trouble with their fine motor skills, you can reach out to Happy Dots Occupational Therapy for Children. We help children with sensory processing issues, handwriting challenges, emotional regulation and school readiness. Feel free to contact our office on (02) 4959 8920 or email us at [email protected]. We have clinics in the Hunter Region (Cardiff and Medowie) and we offer school and home visits as well.

We also have a KIDS SPOT (Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy) group in partnership with A Growing Understanding Speech Pathology. Perfect for children aged 4 to 6 years to get them school ready!

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