Everyday fine motor play in preschool

This week’s Bam Radio show is titled, Fine Motor Skills: What Are They, Why Are They Too Important to Overlook?” and before you go any further, take a minute to listen to what the experts have to say!  You can view the show and listen here or here!

Rae Pica with Dr. Christy Isbell, Allison Sampish, Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed.

“The development of fine motor skills are often a casualty of the rush to get young children up to academic speed. In this segment our guests explain why fine motor skills are a critical building block for higher learning and should never be overlooked” (Bam Radio)

Promoting fine motor skills

I am always exploring new ways I can promote the use of fine motor skills into my classroom….

I may set out something like picking up and sorting pom-poms with tweezers or chopsticks into colorful bags….

Whether the children use my homemade straw tweezers or they use their hands to pick up, manipulate, and move the pompoms – they are using their fine motor skills in the process…

Promoting the use of fine motor skills is an important part of preparing young children to write, catch and throw a ball, type on a computer, open a door, and the list goes on. As young children develop the muscles in their hands, they develop the strength they need to complete fine motor processes that will play a valuable part in higher level learning…

Often times, I will see teachers or parents who will insist on a child holding a pencil using the “correct pencil holding form” but the reality is, young children are still developing the muscles they need in their hands and fingers to hold a pencil correctly. Thus, young children will start off holding a pencil or crayon in a way that looks awkward or incorrect but given time and good opportunities to build fine motor strength and skills, most children will self-correct on their pencil grip when their fine motor control and strength gets to the point that they can manage the pencil with the correct grip…

There are lots of ways to promote fine motor skills and help children build fine motor strength including cutting with scissors…

Squeezing, manipulating, pinching, and rolling playdough….

Weaving, lacing, and sewing…

Peeling and sticking stickers…

Scooping, pouring, mixing and the list goes on…

There are opportunities all throughout the preschool classroom to promote fine motor development!

Homemade Tweezers

I made 2 different versions of homemade tweezers from straws.  This isn’t a perfect solution to real tweezers but it does provide a new experience for preschoolers to try out.  The straws I used were very nice and sturdy from Meijer…

Version 1: Cut one long straw in half. Hot glue a skinnier piece of straw inside the end of each bigger straw.

Version 2: Bend the straw in half – add tape to hold


Straws, tape

If you have a fun idea that promotes fine motor skills in young children, I invite you to add your idea to the linky below!  Adding a link back from your article to this article would be greatly appreciated.

Links to Grow on…

Pencil Grasp Development by OT Mom

Kindergarten Hand Exercises by OT MOM

Handwriting: Pre-K Pages

Fine Motor Development by School Sparks

30 Kids Activities and Materials for Promoting Fine Motor Skills from Hands on: as we grow

By |2012-02-04T06:00:58+00:00February 4th, 2012|

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. Alison February 4, 2012 at 6:16 am - Reply

    Fine motor skill activities are so much fun, and they don’t have to be complicated. We spend much of the day doing activities that promote fine motor. We also love gross motor, but don’t all children

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 4, 2012 at 10:59 am - Reply

      That’s what I think I like the most – is that fine motor play doesn’t have to be complicated:)

  2. Deb @ Living Montessori Now February 4, 2012 at 7:32 am - Reply

    Great ideas, Deborah … I love your pom pom activities and homemade tweezers! Thanks for the linky! 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 4, 2012 at 11:00 am - Reply

      Thanks for stopping by today Deb!

  3. Scott February 4, 2012 at 10:39 am - Reply

    Love those homemade tweezers!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 4, 2012 at 11:00 am - Reply

      They are not quite as good as real ones – but we have been having fun trying to find ways to use them:)

  4. andiejaye February 4, 2012 at 11:05 am - Reply

    love the tweezers… thanks for the inspiration on this. made me realize that i don’t have many activities with the fine motor skill focus. time to start brainstorming!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 4, 2012 at 11:57 am - Reply

      You found a good place to start!

  5. Judi Pack February 4, 2012 at 11:27 am - Reply

    And please don’t forget the outdoors and nature!! Picking up tiny insects, worms, and picking wild flowers, to name just a few thing that the outdoors offers for using those fine motor and eye hand coordination skills.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 4, 2012 at 11:57 am - Reply

      Great reminder Judi!! Absolutely, we can take fine motor play into the outdoors too!!

  6. Leeanne A February 4, 2012 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    Great linky – I love fine motor play!

  7. Leeanne A February 4, 2012 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    BTW I got my tweezers here – http://www.wizkidz.ca/category.aspx?q=tweezers

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the tip!!

  8. Sheryl @Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds February 4, 2012 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    I LOVE this post! You know I am always finding ways to work the fine motor muscles in most everything we do, all over the classroom. It was hard for me to choose which post to link to! 🙂 Thank you for sharing this!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm - Reply

      You do so many wonderful thing Sheryl – I can’t imagine trying to choose!

  9. Little Wonders' Days February 4, 2012 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    My oldest had/has a fine motor delay. He was very active and more interested in gross motor activity when he was a preschooler. Do you have any suggestions for incorporating fine motor into gross motor play with kids that are less willing to sit for a fine motor activity?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm - Reply

      Fine motor play doesn’t have to be a sit still activity:) Anything that invites children to use their hands and fingers will work like painting with water outside on a wall or dipping sponges in water in one bucket then wringing them out in another bucket. Sometimes we get the impression that it should be an activity with high levels of concentration and although some of the fine motor work can be, it can also be about just strengthening those fine muscles until children are ready to stay more focused on something more tedious or complex.

      Other ideas would include reaching up high to try and grab a helium balloon string or seeing how many beanbags or other objects you can hold and carry from one place to another. Essentially, getting children to use their hands to control an object while participating in a movement activity.

      Does this help?

  10. Jen@Creative and Curious Kids! February 5, 2012 at 1:19 am - Reply

    Great post! We’ve had a lot of fun this week with fine motor activities. We played with tooth picks and playdoh, putting coffee stirers in small holes, scooping beans, and chop sticks with pom poms. My little man loves these types of hands-on activities.

  11. Christine February 5, 2012 at 3:39 am - Reply

    The tweezers are a great idea! I’m defineately going to be making some right away. The kiddos are always losing the tweezers. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Stacy@Share&Remember February 5, 2012 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    Love all those colorful pom poms & bags to sort them into!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 5, 2012 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      The bright colors and the softness of the pompoms makes a wonderful textural and color experience…

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