Tools to promote fine motor skills in preschool

This may just look like an empty blue ice tray but if you stop and think about how it can be used to promote fine motor skills or sorting skills, the ideas are limitless.

By adding a basket of small, plastic objects – this ice tray becomes a tool for both play and developing new skills.

Today, the children are simply focused on putting pieces of fruit in the tray. No instructions are given. Instead, the children make up their own rules of play.

Through their play, the children are building fine motor muscle and control…

A little talking, sharing, comparing, patterning, and sorting is also going on…

And then there is spacial awareness and counting. How many of these little objects will fit into each square of the tray?

The teacher occasionally stops by and asks a casual question like, “Can you show me something purple?”

Notice that a little parallel play is happening too.

And then it is always fun to dump our trays back into the basket all by ourselves.

Wow, who knew an ice tray was actually a tool for so much learning?

By |2010-08-18T06:00:16+00:00August 18th, 2010|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. JDaniel4's Mom August 18, 2010 at 8:50 am - Reply

    They really loved it. I bet they will use it over and over again.

  2. Nadia August 18, 2010 at 9:38 am - Reply

    Those tiny plastic fruits are so adorable! Its so hard to find things like that here! There is something magical to kids about normal objects that are kid sized 🙂

  3. Susan August 18, 2010 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for the kind comment on my blog and linking it to your face book page. I just “liked” it!

  4. Jo September 3, 2010 at 3:13 am - Reply

    Hi there, love this idea, we do this with beads and buttons. I’d like to try the fruits idea. Where did you buy them from?

    Thank you 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart September 3, 2010 at 5:06 am - Reply

      Beads and buttons are a great idea too! I am not sure where these came from. The school has had them around for a really long time:)

      • Sarah Smith September 10, 2010 at 7:02 pm

        Great website and pratical idea. The fruits are available at Lakeshore Learning.

  5. Darlene September 19, 2010 at 11:57 am - Reply

    This is also a one-to-one correspondence activity!

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