Making Holiday Fine Motor Play Fun

Activities over the holidays: Fine motor skills for preschoolers and toddlers


There are many ways to celebrate the holiday season. Amongst all the fun and excitement, sneaking in some learning activities to your toddler’s or preschooler’s play could make playing more enjoyable and educational.

Early childhood development includes mastering both fine and gross motor skills. Both skills consist of movement but there are notable differences.

  • Fine motor skills – Involve movement of the smaller muscle groups in your child’s hands, fingers, and wrists.
  • Gross motor skills – Involve movement of the larger muscle groups, like the arms and legs. Its these larger muscle groups that allow babies to sit up, turn over, crawl, and walk.

Both these type of motor skills enable children to become more independent. Fine motor skills are especially important since it involves strength, fine motor control and dexterity. They help develop your child to perform self-care tasks without assistance. Weaknesses in fine motor skills can affect a child’s ability to eat, write legibly, use a computer, turn pages in a book, dressing and grooming.

Fine Motor Skills Development

Fine motor skills develop naturally as your child gains the ability to control and coordinate their body. One baby may learn to shake a rattle at 3 months, whereas a baby of the same age might not shake a rattle until a month later. This is perfectly normal.

If your child isn’t developing as fast as a child of similar age, there is no need to worry. Your child’s body is still growing and, in a few weeks, or months, they may build enough muscle strength in their hands to acquire new fine motor skills.

How Fine Motor Skills Develop

A child’s fine motor skills develop through every day actions and at playtime activities. As your child grows, and their fine motor skills improve, they will move on to more advanced skills like tying their shoe lace, use scissors, write their name and put a straw in a juice box.

The most important fine motor skills children need to develop are;

  • The palmar archers – This allow the palms to curl inward. Strengthening these helps coordinate the movement of fingers, which is needed for writing unbuttoning clothes, and gripping.
  • Wrist stability develops by early school years. It allows children to move their fingers with strength and control.
  • Skilled side of the hand is the use of the thumb, index finger, and other fingers together for precision grasping.
  • Intrinsic hand muscle development is the ability to perform small movements with the hand, where the tip of the thumb, index finger, and middle finger touch.
  • Bilateral hand skills permit the coordination of both hands at the same time.
  • Scissor skills develop by age 4 and teaches hand strength and hand-eye coordination.

Fine Motor Skill Activities for Holidays

  • Drawing.

Process art activities are one of the best ways to develop fine motor skills. Children should be drawing every day without fail. They want to draw and create by nature. Drawing with wax and crayons of different sizes and thicknesses and using different mediums to get your child used to holding utensils of different sizes and shapes will help them develop their fine motor skills.

While it could be tempting to buy coloring books for your child and let them color in pre-drawn pictures, this won’t inspire any creativity in them. Blank paper will stimulate creative drawing.

  • Cutting and Tearing.

Paper-cutting activities build skills and muscle control and can be as simple or complex ad you want them to be. Beginners can start with cutting out paper chains and progress to more complex projects.

For older kids origami and fun paper-folding arts are ideal. Creating greeting cards, making paper snowflakes, developing collages out of teared paper are some activities that can help your child develop their fine motor skills.

  • Pasting

Children need time to learn how to apply the correct amount of glue, how to paste it exactly where it should be pasted and to paste it straight. Using liquid glue or craft glue and letting them stick random paper tearing or cuttings and encouraging them to persist when trying to get something to stick together is another fun way to develop your child’s fine motor skills.

  • Playdough

Children love playing with playdough. Manipulating playdough helps to strengthen hand muscles and develop control over the fingers. Snipping playdough sausages helps develop scissor cutting skills.

Not only does playdough strengthen the fingers and develop motor control, but it also stimulates creativity, planning and thinking skills of your child.

  • Toys and Games

Many toys develop fine motor skills, including those for infants and toddlers. For school-aged children, puzzles as well as board games with pieces and parts to pick up and move are ideal for developing fine motor skills. For example, Jenga is a strategy game using fine motor skills that focus on the pincher grip, which is necessary for writing.

Problems with the development of fine motor skills can cause your child difficulties when attempting activities like writing, drawing and self-care. If your child is facing difficulties with fine motor activities, then and Occupational Therapist can help. Our qualified Occupational Therapists at Language for Life are optimistic about the challenges in helping your child overcome their fine motor skills difficulties and strengthen coordination.

Our Occupational Therapists will conduct an assessment to understand why your child is having trouble with these skills and develop a program especially for your child. When you work with our Occupational Therapists, they will give you many fun activities to follow up at home making Occupational Therapy both developmental and exciting. Early intervention with Occupational Therapy and educational play can help your child with fine motor challenges, improve coordination and build confidence in school and beyond.


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