Fine Motor Toy Ideas
The development of fine motor skills - the ability to use muscles in the hands to perform tasks like buttoning, writing, and holding eating utensils - starts in infancy. Tummy Time is encouraged so babies can strengthen their neck and back muscles. Crawling helps with shoulder stability and with developing hand arches. Pointing and reaching promotes the initiation of finger isolation. These skills all lead to the eventual development of stability and strength in the core, shoulders, and wrists, which are prerequisites for adequate fine motor abilities. As children get older, fine motor skills become more refined naturally through play and learning.
Take a look at some of the toys that I've found to help develop and refine fine motor skills.
Pegboard activities are simple toys that have many benefits. They promote finger isolation, in-hand manipulation skills (holding more than one item in the hand without dropping it), and grasping. Large pegs are great for toddlers because they are easier to grasp and insert into the board while small pegs like these are great for preschoolers for use of more precise coordination. Pegboards also inspire creativity and help build imaginations while creating picture designs.
Mini Muffin Match Up is a simple math game that teaches color and number recognition, counting, and matching. Using tweezers to pick up pieces strengthens muscles in the hands and promotes tripod grasp (grasp used for writing).
Action Stackers lets you stack pegs not only vertically but in all directions, teaching basic engineering principles and inspiring creativity. Action Stackers also promote bilateral coordination (the use of both hands together), and fine motor strength. I love this new twist on the classic pegboard set.
Shelby's Snack Shack is a board game that comes with doggy tweezers, which are used to pick up doggy bones in the game. Using the tweezers promotes fine motor coordination and strength. This game teaches basic math skills, counting, following directions, and turn taking as well.
Avalanche Fruit Stand is another simple fine motor game that requires children to use tweezers to pick up fruits. Holding tweezers strengthens muscles in the hands that are needed to hold pencils and other writing and eating utensils.
Froogz is a unique construction set that includes soft and flexible construction pieces that have little suction cups on each end. The suction cups attach to most flat surfaces and require strength and coordination to pull apart and attach together. Kids can create a variety of creative structures while strengthening muscles in their hands during play.
Feed the Monkey not only works on fine motor strength but also on wrist extension and coordination (need for writing), as it requires the players to place the bananas inside the monkey's mouth without dropping them to win the game.
Thumbs Up is a fun board game that requires players to stack rings onto their thumbs, as indicated on the cards, before the other players do. Thumbs up encourages a quick reaction time, visual perception, finger isolation, and in-hand manipulation skills.
Rock Crayons are super fun, and also super small. Because of their shape and size, kids automatically use a tripod grasp (correct grasp) in order to hold them.
Math Links are great for counting, building, and working on fine motor skills and coordination. Kids can create patterns or 3D designs out of them.
Kit of Screws is the perfect first engineering toy from which kids can build 3D constructions while working on problem-solving, creativity, coordination, and fine motor skills.