Cloudy, With a Chance of Wine

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15 fun & engaging activities that develop fine motor skills

When my daughter started a drop-off preschool in January, I was prepared for the worst.

The crying.

The clinging to my legs.

The screaming when I tried to leave.

But from the moment we walked into that classroom, she couldn’t have cared LESS if I was there or not, and I have been overwhelmed with how much she has developed over the last 5 months. She’s talking more, she’s socializing with other kids, she’s developing new skills, and when I pick her up for lunch, she immediately tells me how much she loves one of her teachers.

Sniff.

Overall, it’s been a pretty fantastic experience, especially since I get to go to Starbucks 3 mornings a week to work on my blog and eat a cake pop, but we have had one little hiccup.

My daughter won’t participate in arts and crafts.

And when I say she “won’t participate”, I don’t mean that she kicks up a fuss and begrudgingly completes whatever craft has been laid out for the day as quickly as she can so she can go back to playing.

Nope.

I mean she flat out REFUSES to do it.

Of course, my husband thinks this is adorable (“she marches to the beat of her own drum!”), but it kind of worries me. I mean, what are we going to do if she still refuses to pick up a crayon or paint brush when she starts Kindergarten next year?

So I’ve been on the hunt for activities I can set-up at home that will help develop her fine motor skills in hopes that I can get her a bit more interested in arts and crafts at school, and while I haven’t seen any miracles happen yet, she’s definitely making progress.

And since I know there must be at least one other mom in the world who is looking for activities that develop fine motor skills, I thought I’d pass these ideas along…

15 fun & engaging activities that develop fine motor skills

1. Looking for something to do with those wooden blocks your child doesn’t play with anymore? Then grab your kitchen tongs and wooden blocks and play a game of Pick Up Blocks! by Hands On As We Grow.

2. Trying to find different sensory activities to try with your kids? All you need is some styrofoam and hair gel, and you can make these fun and awesome Simple Sensory Bags by Kids Activities Blog.

3. Have a stack of pipe cleaners in your junk drawer but don’t know what to do with them? Then grab an old box, poke a few holes in it, and make this Pipe Cleaner Box by Sugar Aunts. This was actually one of the activities that was set-up in my daughter’s preschool class a couple of weeks ago, and the kids had a blast with it. Oh, and it works just as well with an upside down colander!

4. Trying to find ways for your kids to practice their writing skills? Then print off some of these Letter Tracing Printables by 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. The entire bundle is available for only USD$1.25 HERE.

5. Have some clothespins and flashcards hanging around? The check out this awesome Clothespin Letter Match Busy Bag by Craftulate. I made a set for colors and shapes tonight and I cannot wait to try them tomorrow!

6. If your kids are to young to really appreciate the excitement of making structures with marshallows and toothpicks, try this Playdough Kabob idea by No Time for Flash Cards.

7. Looking for something different to do with play doh? How about printing off some of these awesome (and free!) play doh learning mats for kids? They will keep your children occupied for hours!

8. If you’re not bothered by a little mess, let your kids go wild with a little Cornmeal Sensory Play by Hands on as We Grow. I keep a big tub of cornmeal in our pantry and let my daughter do this activity once or twice a week, and it’s just the kind of motivation I need to get the vacuum out and give our kitchen a good clean. HA!

9. This one is good for hot, summer days. Get out your kitchen baster, a couple of plastic containers, and try this Basting Water Fine Motor Activity by Eat Clean, Play Hard.

10. I’ve tried making pasta jewelry with my daughter, but I think it’s a bit too advanced for her right now as she has zero interest in even trying to do it. The good news? Laughing Kids Learn came up with a toddler-friendly version of this activity, which involves play doh and straws. We tried it this afternoon and it was a hit!

11. Looking for something you’ll BOTH enjoy? Then why not revisit your youth with Light Bright?! You can make your own like And Next Comes L did, or you can be lazy and just order one online like I did!

12. Have some pom poms and a plastic container hanging around? Then try this easy but awesome activity by Mama OT.

13. Need a quick activity to keep your child happy while you’re cooking dinner? Of course you do! All you need is a whisk, a bowl, some water, and a squeeze of dish soap, and your kids can have a blast with this Bubble Whisking & Washing Dishes activity by Mummy Musings & Mayhem.

14. Looking for something to do with old paper towel and toilet rolls? How about this quick and easy (and fun!) Tube Play activity by Laughing Kids Learn?

15. Last (but certainly not least) is a fabulous activity by Tips From a Typical Mom. All you need is some felt, buttons, and thread, and you can make this DIY Felt Button Chain, which is fantastic for building fine motor skills AND teaching kids about colors!

What activities and toys have helped your little one with her fine motor skills?

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