HELP FOR THE HANDS: Fine Motor Activities

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Fine motor exercises and activities to strengthen the fingers and help with the hands.

Help For The Hands

A child’s hands are one of their best tools. Building muscles and coordination in these small muscles is an important piece of their development. There are so many ways to encourage children to use their hands, we will go over some of the ideas that we have used with the kids, that we enjoy. It is important to note that fine motor development follows gross motor and a strong core. That means making sure that your child gets plenty of core strengthening exercise. Core strengthening is important because when the core is weak the body gets fatigued when doing table time activities. You can find core strengthening exercises at The Inspired Treehouse.

For young children it can be helpful to set up good habits right from the start. One way to do this is to put paper on a wall and give them broken pieces of chalk or crayons to color with. When the pieces of chalk or crayons are small this forces a natural tripod grip on the writing utensils. It also helps prevent a wrist curl.

Help for the Hands Slant BoardA wrist curl is when the writing hand is bent rather than straight. When the wrist is curled it often leads to hand fatigue. Another way to help the wrist stay straight is to use a slant board. You can buy a slant board but a large binder works, too.



Hand Strength:

There are many ways to develop hand strength. Putty is at the top of our list. But there are many amusing ways to foster hand strength. You can find cooking recipes that are fun and develop the hand muscles at the same time.

Here is one of our recipes that starts with a sensory experience and leads to rolling balls:

Healthy Rice Crispy Balls:

Rice Crispy BallsIngredients:

½ cup Honey

½ cup Peanut butter

½ teaspoon Chopped nuts

½ teaspoon Vanilla

½ teaspoon Cinnamon

2 cups Brown Rice Crispies

Mix together the first 5 ingredients. Then add the Rice Crispies. Roll into balls. Put the balls on a casserole dish and chill in the refrigerator until set.

Now you have a snack to eat while you do the rest of our hand exercises.

Gross motor activities like hanging from the monkey bars contribute to developing strong hands.  Monkey bars

We like playing tug-of-war, not only does it exercise the hands and core, it also uses up some of that indefatigable energy that children have.

Put toys or treats in jars and encourage the child to open the jars by themselves.

Now we have addressed the wrist and the hands, it is time to work on the fingers.

 Zoo sticks will delight children and encourage them to use their pincer grip. You can use them to eat  food or you can make a sorting game.

<Click on the picture to buy from Amazon.>


Gathering Game

Hand Activities using the pincer fingersTo encourage gathering items by using the pincer fingers, I bought a box of shiny rocks from the craft store. Dump them out onto the table and tell the child to gather as many rocks as they can in their hands by using their pincer fingers. Once they have gathered as many rocks as they can fit in their hand, I add some math in by offering them 4 cards with fractions: ¾, ¼, ½, and 1/3rd. The card they choose is the amount of rocks that they get to keep. Then I have them put the rocks in a jar to incorporate the larger hand muscles.


The last hand activity is the putty porcupine. Shape the putty into a porcupine. Using a pincer grip, stick toothpicks into the putty. Then put cheerios onto the toothpicks.

Hand Activities Putty Porcupine

Hand Activities Putty Porcupine







We hope you find our Help for the Hands: Fine Motor Activities useful. Helping the hands can nurture a happy child.

 Products for the hands:

More Fine Motor Fun:

Baking Soda Art or Science?

Felt garland fine motor
Felt garland


  1. I would not have thought to use cooking to build hand strength! What a great idea. I know our kids would be on board with that activity.


  2. These activities sound great! I need to do more things like this with the kiddos. I have the stuff for some of them already! I’m so excited to get started!


    1. That’s awesome! We hope the kiddos have fun.


  3. I think my son would like to claim video games strengthen his thumbs…. We all know that is bs!! These are some great ways to get them going in the right direction!!


  4. These are great ideas for fine motor work! The snack sounds yummy 🙂

    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!


    1. Thank you for hosting!


  5. Very helpful tips! As a special Ed teacher and mom of little ones I know fine motor skills are crucial and developed early. Pinned it too!


    1. Thanks, Megan. I have been enjoying reading your posts on gluten-free recipes.


  6. This is a great post. I have been working on different hand/fingers games with my 2 year old to get her used to everything. Thumbs up is proving to be very difficult at the moment, but we just keep working on it. Maybe some of these tips can help her. Thanks for sharing!


  7. I love these ideas. My twins were premature and have mild cerebral palsy. I think I will have them use playdoh Cheerios and toothpicks to make porcupines Look so cute


    1. We hope your twins enjoy the activity!


    1. Thanks, we hope that your daughter has fun while building fine motor skills!


  8. great activities to hep not just the little hands but all hands


  9. Great ideas! I love that they’re frugal and fun! Thanks for linking up to Mom’s Library, I’ll be featuring you this week at Crystal’s Tiny Treasures.


    1. Thanks, Crystal, that’s great! We will be sure to stop by.


  10. Some great ideas! Thanks for linking up with the #parentingpinitparty


  11. The idea of the broken chalk is FANTASTIC!!! My daughter is 2.5 and NOT impressed when I suggest how she holds crayons in the tripod way. I love all the other activities you’ve suggested to help fine motor in hands.


    1. I can’t sit properly at a table. I need to strengthen my core.


  12. These are great activities to help with fine motor skills. My son is 15 months, so we’ll be trying some out. Pinning!


    1. What a proactive mom you are!


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