Do you need a few ideas for working on your child’s fine motor control?  After all, fine motor control is what lets kids learn to write, draw, and button their clothes! While an occupational therapy clinic is full of puzzles and games to use for this, there are many things you can find around the house or pick up for just a few dollars to work on these critical skills.

Whisk It!

Grab a whisk from your kitchen and fill it with pompoms. Then have your child pull them out, one by one. This works on the pincher skills needed for a good pencil grip. It also feels just plain fun and silly. If your child is working on colors, you can also ask them to pull out all the red ones first. That way they are working on visual scanning and problem solving some as they go!

Bank It!

Grab an old fashioned piggy bank, or even a new-fashioned one, and have your child work on putting coins in the bank. Hopefully, you have a few handfuls in a drawer somewhere! Picking up coins and putting them in the bank not only works those pincher muscles again but also builds the skills needed for fastening buttons.

You can even turn this into a math lesson as you teach your child to tell apart pennies and nickels or count the coins as they go in the bank.

Cook it!

While I am a huge fan of real cooking with kids, play cooking is also great for working on fine motor skills. Dry beans provide an ideal compromise between real food and play, too, making them novel. Use dry beans and have your child work on pouring from one cup to another. Have your child practice scooping them with a variety of different spoons and transferring them to a different bowl. You can even work those pincer skills once more by having your child add one bean at a time for a special recipe. All of these games become more special if you can provide unique or child-sized bowls, cups and spoons. Doll size is also fun, as your child can prepare a special meal for their teddy bears.

Be Fun!

Get down in the floor and playing with your child with beans, coins, or pompoms. Make it fun. Kids learn and grow best when they are playing. So play with them. Look at their toys and see if you can come up with a way to use them in a new way. Can a tiny dump truck haul beans? Can you feed the dolls? By turning this into playtime instead of work, your child is going to enjoy these challenges and rise to them much faster.

Want to learn more about my favorite OT-related toys and games?

I’m a huge fan of using toys and games as a way of helping kids reach their OT goals. I have a whole category in my blog called “My Favorite Toys.” It is a great place to look for gift ideas that are fun and functional!

About the Author

Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.

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