Supporting Fine Motor Skills at Home

Aerial view of child-sized shoes beside backpack

What It's About

Children use and build Fine Motor skills anytime they use small muscles. For example, to hold a toy, open a snack, or button a jacket. 

The best way to support these skills and build your child’s confidence is to show them how to use their fine motor skills, try things at their own pace, and give opportunities to explore tools or grips.


Here are some ways you can support Fine Motor skills at home. Keep in mind that you can change these activities to work for you and your child, based on their current abilities, interests, and what you have available at home.

Take a look, and try out your favorites!

What's Cooking?

While preparing meals, invite your child to help. Give them cooking tools, like measuring cups, spoons, whisks, and bowls, to hold and explore. Or have them complete tasks such as stirring, scooping, or opening packages.

Play with Playdough

Get out some playdough and encourage your child to use their fingers to pinch, squish, roll, and shape the dough. Or add simple tools such as spoons, rolling pins, and scissors to scoop, flatten and cut the dough.

Time to Rip and Cut

Put scrap paper (or old magazines, letters, or junk mail) in a box. Then, allow your child to tear the paper with their hands or use scissors to cut the paper up.

Explore with Water

Set up some waterplay in a sink, bathtub, or large container! Put cups, basters, spoons, or other items in water. Explore pouring, scooping, and splashing!

Fingerplay Fun

Sing fingerplay songs that encourage children to use their hands. For example: One Little Finger, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Wheels on the Bus

Pen Pals

Encourage your child to "write" to a friend or family member. Early writing may be drawing pictures or scribbling lines or dots – and that’s okay! Give your child different sized crayons, markers, pens, or pencils to experiment with.

Quick Cues for Supporting Fine Motor Skills

Some things you might do or say to help strengthen your child’s Fine Motor skills

Talk About Fine Motor Skills

Point out when you and your child use Fine Motor Skills.

This can sound like:

“You are crawling to get the ball. I’m crawling with you. Here I come!”

“You are trying hard to jump, jump, jump!”

“I am going to hold my arms out to the side to help me balance.”

Let Them Try It

Find the right amount of support to help your child without taking over the task.

This can sound like:

“You can’t quite get the box to open. Here, I’ll open it just a bit, then you pull the lid all the way off.”

“Here, try a larger paintbrush because the small one is hard to grip.”

“What do you think about trying a thicker piece of paper to help with your cutting?” 

Try New Tools or Grips

Give your child the chance to use tools and show them new grips or grasps.

This can sound like:

“I’m going to pinch the cheerio with my thumb and finger and put it right into my mouth.”

“Have you tried using a shovel to move more sand into the bucket?” 

“I’m holding my paintbrush this way. It gives me more control.” 

Our Book Recommendations for Fine Motor Skills

Engaging stories that support children's Fine Motor skills
I Can Do it Too Book Image

I Can Do It Too!

Written by Karen Baicker and illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max, this story follows a child who uses their own two hands in activities with family and friends.

Have fun with it:
Talk with your child about ways they use their hands to play and help at home.

What If Book Page

What If...

Written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Mike Curato, this story follows a child who explores the possibilities of what our hands can create beyond paper and pencil. 

Have fun with it:
Encourage your child’s creativity as they use their hands and imagination to express themselves.

More Take-Home Strategies

We’re creating a library of resources like these so families and other caregivers can quickly and easily promote children’s development at home. Be sure to see all the strategies we have available!