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Three activities to help hone toddlers and preschoolers' fine motor skills

Just as young children need to crawl before they can walk, they need to learn how to use their hands before they can write, draw or paint. Fine motor skills are an essential cornerstone to any pre-K child's development, and teaching toddlers and preschoolers how to effectively and intuitively make fine, precise movements with their hands and grip instruments like pencils and crayons are key parts of their education.

Here are a few activities you can use to help build your students' use of their fine motor muscles:

  • Hang a clothesline: Not a real clothesline that you would use for drying the wash, of course. Instead, tie a piece of thick string between two handles, then have children squeeze clothespins to clip doll's clothing — or even just cut-out pieces of fabric — to the string. 
  • Twist and turn nuts and bolts: Children have to make full use of their fingers and wrists, as well as coordinate both hands to work together, in order to hold nuts and bolts, and twist the former onto the latter.
  • String together cut-up straws: Using safe scissors, have your children cut up drinking straws into smaller pieces that run approximately 1 inch each. Then have the kids thread a piece of yarn or plastic lace through the cut-up straws, stringing them together into a decorative piece like a necklace or bracelet. Both cutting the straws and then stringing yarn or lace through them are great ways for developing a child's fine motor skills.

ProSolutions offers a number of helpful resources on this subject, including "Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers" and "Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers." We also provide online CDA courses for early childhood education professionals looking to become certified with the Child Development Associative Credential.