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Play and Grow: 6 Ideas for Fine Motor Skill Building

When my oldest son was in kindergarten he still struggled to write his name.

We spent many afternoons practicing on kindergarten-lined paper, a No. 2 pencil wobbling in his unsteady hand. When I discussed this with his teacher she told me something I’d never considered: that many children, particularly boys, simply lack the fine motor skills they need to write.

She gave me some great ideas for activities my son could do that would help him develop these critical skills— toys, games and puzzles that would be fun for him, as well.

Because of this I’ve focused much more on fine motor development with my younger children while they’re still preschool aged. Here are some of the things we use to help them work those muscles and get them ready for writing.

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  • String Wooden Beads 1 of 6
    String Wooden Beads
    Stringing beads is a great activity especially for younger toddlers. Join them by taking turns adding beads, or pretend they're making a beautiful necklace to wear to Cinderella's ball!
  • Sensory Tub 2 of 6
    Sensory Tub
    We have so much fun making different kinds of sensory tubs. Here's one I made just last week!
  • Play with Clay 3 of 6
    Play with Clay
    The possibilities are endless for playing with clay. Rolling it into balls and pulling pieces off helps fine-tune those prewriting skills. And bonus: you can even make your own!
  • Beehive Game 4 of 6
    Beehive Game
    This is a great toy for older toddlers. It really focuses on building up their pincer grasp and is really fun at the same time.
    Available at Kangaroo Boo for $25.99
  • Play Dress the Doll 5 of 6
    Play Dress the Doll
    My daughter loves playing with dolls, and this is a favorite. Taking the doll out of the clothes and putting it back inside is a great way to work her fine motor skills.
    Available at Fat Brain Toys for $16.95
  • Have fun with Stickers 6 of 6
    Have fun with Stickers
    Who doesn't love stickers? Ask your child to make a card for Grandma and decorate it with stickers. Peeling them off the paper and grabbing individual stickers strengthens the pincer grasp.
    Available at Melissa and Doug for $4.99

More by Mary Lauren:

Toddler Fashion File: We Love Leg Warmers!

You Asked, I Answered: How Can I Get My Toddler to Listen?

Halloween Costumes Inspired by Children’s Books

Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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