As we know, fine motor skills are important for academic performance and activities of daily living. Many children can learn and perfect these skills through day to day activities without much direct instruction, but for children with fine motor deficits, it might take more of an effort. We all tend to avoid tasks that are hard for us, and you might find that your child isn’t wild about sitting down to practice handwriting or cutting. A great way to work on fine motor skills at home is to strategically select toys and games that lend themselves to using those fingers and hands. Here are some of our favorites:
For little ones:
Hi-Ho Cherry-O is a great first game that encourages little fingers to use a pincer grasp!
Look for puzzles that have small pegs. This encourages children to use their fingers rather than a whole hand.
Brush-style blocks need to be oriented and fit together in order to build with them.
Squigz are so fun and help strengthen hands and fingers.
Zingo Bingo requires fine motor control to pick up and organize the bingo chips. I also love the slot on the dispenser- you have to orient the bingo chip a certain way and push it in with your thumb.
3-D matching games offer a fun twist on your standard memory game. Players must fit corresponding pieces together to make a match!
For Older Kiddos:
Operation is an oldie but a goodie! This classic game uses tiny tweezers to remove small pieces from compartments.
Battleship’s tiny pegs allow for numerous opportunities to perfect fine motor skills as you play.
This fun version of putty is called Discovery Putty, and it comes with little figures buried in the putty. Children must use their hands and fingers to stretch, pull, punch and poke in order to find all of the hidden items.
Trouble is another tried and true board game that packs a fine-motor punch. In addition to the pegs that must fit precisely in the holes, the “pop-o-matic bubble” requires a solid amount of hand strength.
Suspend is one of my very favorite games to play with a group. Children need to use precision and control in order to gently hang game pieces without making the structure fall.
Legos are super popular, versatile and perfect for working on manipulating tiny pieces.
What are some of your favorite fine-motor toys?
Psst- did you hear that our ever-popular summer camp is almost sold out?! Check out our post from last year to see what all the fuss is about! Registration information can be found on our website here.
Elizabeth Clark McKenzie, MS, CCC-SLP