Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are the small movements that occur in the hands, wrists, and fingers. These small movements work in conjunction with the eyes. Fine motor skills involve the following:

  • Dexterity
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • In-hand manipulation
  • Grasp and prehensile patterns
  • Bilateral coordination

Delays with fine motor skills

Fine motor skill delays can occur for a variety of reasons, but is not always related to a specific diagnosis. Children with fine motor delays often have difficulty with fasteners (buttons, snaps, zippers, shoe tying), feeding (using utensils, drinking from an open face cup), coloring and drawing (difficulty maintaining grasp or using an appropriate grasp), cutting with scissors, and manipulating objects within their environment.

Fine motor delays are typically a result of deficits in the following areas:
  • Core weakness or instability
  • Shoulder weakness/instability (scapular winging, shoulder elevation)
  • Generalized weakness (arms, hands, fingers)
  • Joint hyper-mobility
  • Tone differences (low tone, high tone, and/or fluctuating tone)
  • Vision deficits


Core Exercises:
  • While lying on his/her back, have your child kick their legs up in the air
  • Wall kicks - have your child lie on their back with their head up against the wall, have them bring their legs up to the wall and touch it
  • Sit-ups with knees bent, have your child pull-to-sit
  • Planks
  • Push-ups - either on the knees or their toes
  • Sit on an unsupported surface without back support (bench, small ball, chair)
  • Play in tall kneel
  • Crawling - on all fours, reaching for objects, throwing objects
Shoulder strengthening and stability:
  • Planks
  • Push ups
  • Crawling
  • Working on a vertical surface
  • Leaning on elbows while lying on belly
Activities to encourage handedness
  • Screwing and unscrewing lids off of jars/containers
  • Playing with Legos
  • Use kids tools such as a hammer or screwdriver
  • Use tongs or tweezers to pick up small objects
  • Use lacing cards and/or string beads
  • Present items at midline so you don't inadvertently promote use of a certain hand
Activities to promote finger/hand strength/dexterity
  • Use tweezers or tongs to pick up small objects
  • Pinch clothespins onto a rim of a can or string
  • Peel off stickers
  • Tear small pieces of paper
  • Shuffle a deck of cards and sort them
  • Play-doh activities - rolling, squishing, poking, pulling
  • Turn pages in a book
  • Fold paper
  • Remove lids from various containers
  • Use broken crayons for coloring or drawing
  • Sharpen pencils
  • Hook paperclips to paper
  • Use a spray bottle to water plants or in the bathtub
Games to enhance fine motor skills
  • Connect Four
  • Trouble
  • Operation
  • Lite Brite
  • Pick-up sticks
  • Hi Ho Cherri-O
  • Pop up Pirate
  • Legos
  • Trios
  • Tinker Toys
185 S. Marley Rd. New Lenox, IL 60451