Activities That Promote Your Toddler’s Fine Motor Skills

Posted on May 29, 2019 : Posted in Legacy Academy, Parenting Tips

What do pinching, tying, threading, tracing, and cutting have in common? All of these abilities are functions of your fine motor skills, the small muscle movements that facilitate these and many more everyday tasks. The toddler years include a lot of natural fine motor development both through play and daily tasks like dressing and eating. Additionally, these developments are important for future abilities such as writing and tying shoes. There are plenty of ways to promote a toddler’s fine motor skills at home. Here are four fun activities that feel so much like playing that your toddler won’t even know they’re learning! Always remember to supervise your toddler during these activities and keep any choking hazards or potentially dangerous items out of their reach.

Threading Spaghetti

For this activity, you will need playdough or modeling clay, dry spaghetti noodles, and a variety of items with small holes, such as buttons, short pieces of straws, small pasta wheels, and beads. To begin, place the clay or dough in the middle of a plate and squish it down so it becomes a good base for a tower. Then, press one end of the hard spaghetti noodle down into the dough until it is well-supported and standing upright. Finally, place the various threadable items around the dough base on the plate. Now your child can thread any of the items onto the pasta to create a tower of their own design. The act of pinching individual items and lining up the holes with the spaghetti requires both concentration and lots of fine muscle control. If your child breaks the spaghetti, simply replace it!

Finger Puppets

Another great activity to promote toddler fine motor skills is finger puppets! Even simple homemade puppets, a small drawing on a circle of paper, will delight your toddler as you use them to tell a story and have adventures. The act of isolating fingers and moving them intentionally is excellent for fine motor skill development, but all your child will notice is how much fun they are having.


Pipettes, or small tubes with a bulb on the end, are a favorite activity of many small children. Simply using a pipette to move water from one place to another is great fun. If you want to make the activity more exciting, use watercolors or food dye to color small cups of water and give your child the space to explore what happens when the colors are combined one dropper-full at a time. Or, for a really memorable time, fill a pie plate with baking soda and use a pipette to drop vinegar on it. The resulting mini-eruptions are sure to thrill your child and encourage them to keep up the pinching action that is strengthening their hands every time they refill the pipette.


There are so many ways to trace, and the process of directing their hand through the tracing motion requires a child to use all the little muscles in their fingers and palms. Tracing can be done almost anywhere and with many different mediums. Try making shapes and letters with sidewalk chalk and then having your child paint over them with a wet sponge brush. Or use Q-tips dipped in paint to put dots in a line over letters or pictures. Tracing can even mean using one finger to draw letters or numbers in a bin of rice, beans, or another sensory material to encourage a toddler’s fine motor skills.

As your child grows, they will rely on their fine motor skills as they develop more mature abilities like drawing, writing, and crafting. With this in mind, it benefits them greatly to spend time developing toddler fine motor skills at home. With these simple and fun activities, this pursuit doesn’t need to feel like work! If you are looking for childcare to encourage your toddler’s development in all the areas that matter most, consider Legacy Academy Chapel Hill. Call or visit today for more information.