Fine Motor Development

Fine motor control refers to the ability to use the hands and fingers precisely in a skilled activity. Good fine motor control requires muscle and joint stability, especially in the neck, trunk, and upper extremities. Fine motor development can be divided into the following skills:

Gross Grasp

Gross Grasp/Release: Use of the whole hand to hold an object.

Activities such as swinging, hanging from monkey bars, or playing tug of war help develop gross grasp. Activities such as stacking blocks, putting objects in containers, and tossing balls/beanbags help refine the release.

Fine Grasp

Fine Grasp/Release: Ability to control each finger independently.

Activities such as finger feeding, playing with pegs, beads, and crayons help develop these skills.

Timed Grasp

Timed Grasp/Release: Choosing an exact moment for something to happen, begin, or end.

Activities such as using utensils, throwing and catching help develop timing.

Functional Fine Motor Skills at School


Get creative with cutting at home! In addition to encouraging accuracy with cutting on paper, create fun opportunities to cut any of the following:

  • Cut straws into small pieces and then string into a necklace

  • Roll playdough into worms or snakes, then cut into pieces

  • Go on a hunt around the yard for weeds, leaves, grass, then let your child cut and create a nature collage

  • When beginning to introduce scissors, first have your child snip paper, then cut straight lines, zig zag lines, curvy lines, and simple shapes.

  • Scissor Skills Packet


Practice the following whenever possible:

  • Opening/closing velcro attachments

  • Pulling apart snaps

  • Unzipping large zippers

  • Zipping large zippers

  • Unbuttoning buttons

  • Buttoning buttons

  • Lining up and clipping together snaps

  • Lining up, hooking and zipping zippers

  • Un-tying shoelaces

  • Unbuckling/buckling

  • Untangling knots in shoelaces

  • Tying shoelaces

  • Tips for Adapting Buttoning and Zipping


Practicing these at home helps set children up for success and independence at school.

  • Practice opening and closing ziploc bags

  • Screw and unscrew jars and lids

  • Twist off and on caps to bottles

  • What kind of containers does your child have in her lunch? Use them to store snacks or toys at home and let your child practice opening and closing them.

Supporting Fine Motor Development

Playdough is a great way to work on fine motor skills. These activities are great for all ages!

12 Simple Play Dough12 Simple Play Dough Activities for PreschoolersAn occupational therapist shares simple yet fun play dough activities for preschoolers to support their fine motor development.

Clothespin Activities18 Clothespin Activities for Fine Motor Skills - The Realistic MamaFine motor skills are so important for toddlers and preschoolers to help develop the strength that's needed for a lot of basic skills they need to learn such as tying their shoe laces to learning how to write. There are so many objects that you can use around your home for basic fine motor activities,...Read More »