Fine motor skills activities for toddlers

Fine motor skills are one of the fundaments of a child's independence, they help him to tie the shoelaces, write, button up a shirt and eat with cutlery. As parents can enormously help their children to improve those skills, I am here today to share with you a few simple and fun activities that you can set up for your toddler.

This activity takes seconds to set up. All you need are tongs, ice cube tray, and tissue paper balls (you can also use pom poms). A child needs to place the paper balls into the slots of the ice cube tray using the tongs. If you don't have the tongs, he can use a spoon too.

All you need for this activity are some rocks, a brush and acrylic paints. Let your child use his imagination and colour the rocks just the way he wants. 

The list of activities you can create with playdough is endless. It is one of my favourite art materials because it wonderfully strengthens child's hands. 
The aim of this activity is forming small playdough balls and placing them in the slots of the ice cube tray.


When I first came up with this idea, I had no clue that my son will enjoy it so much. But he loved it. I simply hid pebbles in large playdough balls, and he had to dig them out. Sometimes I would make a humongous ball and hide plenty of pebbles in it. It is a very entertaining activity, and it beautifully supports the development of fine motor skills. 

Duplo blocks, even if stored in a box with a lid, do get dirty and dusty all the time. I need to bath our Duplo once a month. Kian loves to help out, so I usually just rinse the Duplo and then transfer it to a large container where he can wash it with either a toothbrush or a nail brush (both used exclusively for cleaning). It is a fun practical life activity that also supports the development of fine motor skills.

You can either buy lacing cards or make them at home. This activity is simple, but it not only improves the fine motor skills but also hand-eye coordination, concentration and strengthens the pincer grasp. 


You can set this activity in two different ways: you can either squirt some paints into a box lined with paper and ask your child to gently shake the box to colour the pine cones, or he can simply paint them with a brush. 

I have to admit that this used to be my least favourite type of arts and crafts project when I was a pre-schooler because it requires patience and precision, which I didn't have back then. On the side note, I have lost the hope that I will ever master the precision thing.

This activity supports the development of fine motor skills, precision, hand-eye coordination and concentration. The child can prepare the tissue paper balls by himself, or you can do it for him. Then he can glue them on the paper to create a beautiful 3d art project. 

All you need to do to set this activity up is to fill the whisk with small (tissue) paper balls. If you're worried that your child may want to put the balls in his mouth, you can use small scarves or baby socks instead. 


Smashing and crushing are some of the children's favourite activities, so when my son first discovered it, I came up with playdough smashing to avoid him smashing and wasting the food. All you need for this activity is playdough and a hammer.


Your child can make prints in the playdough using animal figurines, wooden blocks, spoons, Lego Duplo, leaves, flowers, tree twigs, pine cones, little figurines- pretty much anything. It is a fun way to work on the strength of hand muscles, and entertain the kids, too. 

For this activity, you will need two bowls or containers, one filled with some small objects you find at home- wooden blocks, animal figurines, acorns or pine cones, and a pair of tongs.
Your child needs to transfer the objects from one bowl to another using tongs. 

All you need for this activity are two containers (one of the filled with water), a strainer spoon (or a spoon/ ladle if you don't have the strainer spoon), some small objects and a cloth to dry the potential spill. The idea is that the toddler transfers objects using the ladle from one container to another

For this activity, you will need a bowl or a plastic box, soapy water, a whisk, a cloth to dry the potential spill, and paints (if you wish). What I love about it is that your child strengthens his hand muscles and has a sensory play in one. If you let them mix 2 or more paint colours, he will learn the basic of what colours make what colour. 

Animal rescue is a fun activity that helps to develop fine motor skills and critical thinking. I strung jute twine through the holes of the clothespins basket, and I asked my son to rescue the little animal figurines using tongs.

You can hide the counting chips in a container filled with rice/ dry pasta or tissue paper balls and ask your child to find them all using the magnetic wand. 
The counting chips usually come with a magnetic wand in a set, but if you don't have the wand, you can use any magnet you have at home. 

For this activity, you will need two containers- one empty, and one filled with dry pasta/ rice/ tissue paper balls/ pom poms/ dry beans and some sort of scoopers. It can be a spoon, a ladle, a teaspoon, wooden scoopers or handy scoopers. Sometimes we use toy cups or cooking pots, too. It is not only a great sensory play but also an activity that supports the development of fine motor skills. 

This wonderful fine motor and practical life activity can be set up in many ways. You can use either a jug and a pitcher, two identical jugs, two identical pitchers, a pitcher and a bottle etc. Younger children can start by pouring rice/ tissue paper balls/ pom poms, and once they have practised dry pouring, they can move onto wet pouring. 
The child pours water from the right-hand container into the left-hand side container, and then from the left to the right. Provide him with a sponge or a cloth, so he can clean the tray if there is any spill. 

Please let me know if the ideas I shared were helpful, and if you would like me to prepare more articles on that topic. Thank you for your time! 



  1. Some fabulous ideas here, think I will take some of these to our preschool to try

    1. Awesome, I hope the kids will have fun :) Thanks, Kara x

  2. What great ideas. I particularly like the animal footprints in playdough!

    1. I am 27, and this activity is still fun for me :) A bit sad, I must admit haahaha. Thank you for reading and commenting! x

  3. Great ideas. My girls would've loved these when they were toddlers.

    1. Thank you, Laura! All the best to you and your daughters x

  4. We love the tissue paper art idea! A great resource for kids!

    1. Thanks, Dawn and Bella! Hope you're having an amazing day x

  5. I love love love all the ideas. Thank you so much! How old is Kian? I a trying to figure out if this would be fit for my 20 months old toddler. Where can I get a playdough and a tong? An amazing post reallY!

    1. Thank you! Kian is 2y10m. I am sure that most activities I presented here would be suitable for your daughter. The best playdough is the home-made one (you can make it any scent and colour you want, and it is non-toxic). You can also purchase a ready one pretty much everywhere- Lidl, Sainsburys, Asda, all kinds of arts and crafts stores, Wilko, Argos, Ebay, Amazon. Some Etsy sellers offer amazing playdough. The tongs are available in all different types of online shops selling kids stuff, but also ebay, amazon, john lewis, H&M home. Thanks for reading and commenting <3

  6. Loving all of these creative activities and also perfect for a rainy day - my 4yr old loves to paint pinecones and rocks!! So good for the motor skills

    Laura x

    1. Thank you, Laura! Painting rocks and pinecones is the best. Thanks for visiting my blog again <3

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