Every day, children learn to use their thumbs. Preschoolers and babies who use crayons and rattles are both examples of this. Play is a great way to teach these skills. Your child won’t even know they have toys that are good for fine motor skills. “working.”Scary Mommy reached Emma Hubbard (Pediatric Occupational Therapist) to learn more about the essential toys that will strengthen fine motor skills.
The Expert Emma HubbardShe is a certified pediatric occupational therapist, with more than 12 years of experience. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy at the University of Newcastle. She is also the founder of and CEO at Brightest BeginningThis website and YouTube channel aims to help parents. She shares her knowledge on child development, sleep and toilet training and other topics. What toys are good for fine motor skills development?
To start, it’s helpful to better understand what fine motor skills entail. Hubbard says that these skills are crucial in preparing children to be independent. “feed themselves, get dressed, brush their teeth and hair, open containers, draw, and write.”
Like any new skill, practice makes perfect. Hubbard recommends toys that are durable and simple to use for children. “encourage a child to use small finger movements”These are the things that you need to know. “appropriate for their development”To avoid frustration, and to provide the right challenges
What to look for in the best toys for fine motor skills
To help you find the right toy for where your kiddo is at developmentally, here’s what you need to know about emerging skills for the toddler and preschool age range.
Hubbard states that toddlers continue to improve their skills at picking up small objects using their thumbs and index fingers. This builds on their abilities since birth. They are also learning to place small objects inside small containers. “how to rotate their fingers and wrist for accurate placement.”
Hubbard suggests that you have a variety toys to strengthen these skills.
Hubbard stated that preschoolers are eager and willing to learn self-care skills. These skills include button placement and other skills that will help them prepare for kindergarten.
She believes toys can be a good choice for preschoolers. “threading and lacing toys, puzzles, play dough, drawing implements, Lego and [other] blocks, dolls with dress up clothes, and imaginative play kits.”They also benefit from toddler-recommended toys. “further developing their hand-eye coordination, finger strength and ability to isolate their fingers to complete intricate tasks.”
Using Hubbard’s advice, we’ve rounded up the best fine motor skills toys that will entertain your kids (and exercise those little fingers), with everything from STEM-based toys to more open-ended and creative picks.
01 A set of Chunky Lacing beads will entertain for hours
This set of colorful earrings is a great way to show your support for the arts.
Lacing beadsThis is a classic way for your LO to improve their pincer grasp, dexterity, and pincer grasp. The set contains 30 beads in five different colors. One customer said, “Made with good quality!!! My kid plays with this for hours.” It has entertained them for hours on end.” Reviewers note the set may be used in many ways including “beading, colors, counting, shapes, sorting etc.”Two sturdy laces are included in the kit. The set comes in a wooden storage box and is a favorite among parents, with a 4.8-star rating after 15,000 reviews on Amazon. Recommended Age3 years or older 02 This is a best-selling game that teaches fine motor skills.
This is a simple game to use
GameThis game is a favorite of preschoolers. The spinner is a great tool to improve fine motor skills. You can aim to collect one acorn for each color. “stolen”The sneaky squirreltweezer is used to grasp and refine the game. Parents report that the game takes just 10 minutes for two and 15 for three. “If you’re on the fence, GET this game for your kiddos,”One parent raved. “It’s perfect for teaching turn taking, understanding matching colors and they won’t realize they are really working on perfecting those fine motor skills.”Another reviewer stated that the parts work well, and that it is easy to use. “The spinner is great–doesn’t get stuck like other games I have.” Recommended Age3 years or older 03 This Travel-Ready Peg Stacker Board Set
Construction set25 chunky, colorful pegs and an 8 inch crepe rubber pegboard allow children to build three-dimensionally and improve their hand-eye coordination. The storage box has a handle that allows you to carry it around. “They get input from the pushing and pulling motions and there are a bunch of different ways to use this while getting educational [play],”One happy reviewer explained. Another satisfied customer raved about its durability, writing: “You can stack, sort by color and count them. The board has survived our playroom with three boys and twin girls and shows no signs of the abuse it’s endured.” Recommended Age2 years and beyond 04 The Dino They’ll Love Building (& Taking Apart)
This tool kit is ideal for children who are fascinated by tools.
dinosaurOnce the brachiosaurus is fully assembled, it encourages dexterity and problem solving skills as well as imaginative play. “The mouth, neck, legs, and tail move, which makes it even better. A screwdriver comes in the set and makes a clicking sound to let you know it’s tight, which I love,”One reviewer agreed. The plastic parts are smooth so they can’t hurt little fingers as your builder constructs (and deconstructs) their dino again and again with the easy-to-use screwdriver. Do you want more dinos? Try the Four-pack of dinosThis is an amazing deal. Recommended Age3 years or older 05 This Garden-Themed Set That’s Dishwasher-Safe
This unique and adorable 44-piece garden will inspire children to love nature.
Construction setGreen Toys One reviewed the set and said that it includes petunias, daisies and lilies and is beautiful. “simple but endless, creative and practical, fine motor skills and problem solving… It has it all.”Parts are made from recycled milk jugs. They are free of BPA, phthalates, PVC, and paint that could crack. Everything is easy to clean (they can go in the dishwasher) and reviewers say they’re super durable: “The pieces are well made and sturdy. They’ve held up for years now.” Recommended Age3 years or older 06 This Popular Blade-Free Scissors and ActivityPad Set is a great option
Scissor skills are key in preschool/kindergarten and they help children work on their hand-eye coordination. Plus, what child doesn’t love cutting paper? This highly-rated product is yours!
Melissa and Doug setAmazon has over 15,000 reviews. The 20-page booklet includes pre-printed activities. These activities include simple mazes, more complex puzzles, and sequencing problems that will help children improve the use of their scissor. Reviewers have praised the included scissors for being all plastic and free of blades, but they still do a great job. Got a lefty? No worries. Reviewers agree. “it works for left or right handed kiddos.” It’s also available in a pack with Three different activity books. Recommended Age4 years old and older 07 A Egg-cellent Sorting Method for the Younger Crowd
Hide & Squeak eggsThese toys are rare toys that entertain both toddlers and preschoolers. The eggshells come with faces that can express different emotions. This gives children an opportunity to practice matching colors and shapes. Children can practice hand-eye coordination with the replacement of eggsshells or chicks. The gentle peeping sound you hear when you press down on the chicks makes a gentle sound. One happy mama said, “Overall, this is a great product, super sturdy and has many uses that can grow with your child. We even added a balance game by trying to stack the empty shells. […] The eggs are large enough to not be a choking hazard.”The set comes in a yellow plastic container that has a latch. It’s a great way for children to practice their fine motor skills! Recommended Age18 months and older 08 These Clever Building Blocks For Preschoolers & Kindergarteners
These are intended for slightly older children.
little building piecesInstructions for making a rainbow are included. The 240 BPA-free, phthalate-free plastic pieces are small (0.75×0.5 inches) and can be combined to make mosaics.
The tube is light and thin so it can be easily carried in a bag. One shopper stated that the tube is lightweight and slim so it can be carried easily in a bag. “[I] bought these as a recommendation from my son’s teacher in helping with fine motor [skills]. He loves these and is entertained for a good solid hour.” To up the feel-good factor: they’re made in Denmark using 100% wind energy. For more fun, add an accessory to your collection
pink glitter, neonOr pastelExhilarating challenges to set them or challenge them Puzzle by number. Recommended Age5 years and older 09 Lacing boards with animal friends that last years
Sometimes the simplest activities keep kids’ attention the longest. These five farm-themed activities will keep your kids’ attention for a long time.
lacing boardsMelissa & Doug products last. As toddlers grow into preschoolers who are passionate about weaving and become skilled weavers, Melissa & Doug products will be durable. They’ll work on dexterity and hand-eye coordination with this fun challenge. One parent said that she’s using them to get ahead of the next school year. “I bought this for my four year old who is in Pre-K to help with motor skills and to build those hand muscles that are needed for kindergarten activities. […] Super fun learning activity for younger ones.”The laces are color-coordinated to make it easier to match colors. Recommended Age3 years or older 10 The Ultimate Lab Set for Budding Scientists
This 12-piece, colorful set is for all budding scientists
Science setIt is fun and useful for fine motor skills. The test tubes’ caps can be removed and put back on. To improve pincer grasp, the eye dropper can be removed and reattached using tweezers and a tweezer. Children love to pour from one test tube to another, which helps with hand eye coordination. One reviewer said they were very good. “like[d] how chunky these are for little children. Easy for them to use and my 3 year old son loves squeezing the liquid up with the squeezer and then letting it out in a separate container.”The activity cards included will help guide your child through science experiments. Recommended Age3 years or older 11 A Mesmerizing Gears Board For Younger Tots
This chart shows the cause-and-effect relationship for babies who turn one (or older).
moving gears toyMany reviewers agree that it’s suitable for growing toddlers. The 11 interchangeable gears spin, play music, and make sounds — and they also light up. Little ones can stack, move and spin the gears with their hands. One parent stated that “It’s a very simple toy, but my toddler likes it a lot. He enjoys putting the gears on their slots and then playing the music as a reward. […] This helps in fine motor [skills] and in their problem solving skills, too.” There’s also a convenient carrying handle at the top of the board. Recommendation age12 months or older 12 Fun and challenging pattern-matching board
Problem-solving toyEncourages children to use their pattern-matching skills and spatial skills by matching the challenge card using colored rubber band. You can also create your own designs. This is where elastic rubber bands come in handy. “build great dexterity for [kids’] hands and fine motor skills,”One review said so. The set includes a wooden board, metal pegs, and 35 pattern cards. Five of these cards are blank for DIY. There is also a variety rubber bands. There are no sharp edges. One parent stated, “I like that the nails / pegs have rounded tops so [they] are not sharp to the touch and while they hold the bands on the board securely, they don’t snag when [you’re] wanting to remove the bands either.” Recommended Age3 years or older 13 Self-care is easy in the most cuddly way 14 A set of themed play-doh and tons of fun accessories
This set is a unique way for little hands to learn about the dentist and encourage them to get moldy.
Play-DohTeeth that require repair. A small button can be pressed by children to operate the drill. The set includes a toothbrush, a toothbrush, braces roller, toothbrush, pick, and flosser. Hubbard suggests play dough as an option for small muscles. The set will keep children entertained for a long time. The set comes with eight containers of Play-Doh. One parent enthused: “Such an excellent idea and they executed it perfectly by creating this engaging toy. Great quality and easy cleanup. 5 stars!” Recommended Age3 years or older 15 A Childhood Classic — Now Improved For Your Kiddo
This classic toy from your childhood honed your own fine motor skills even though you didn’t realize it. The
New and improved versionIt comes with six templates, 200 colored pins and LED bulbs. These are battery-powered and can be carried around. The patterns are simple to follow, and kids will enjoy creating their masterpieces. “write”You can send them a simple note or their name.
According to one reviewer, professionals love this toy. “I’m a therapist and this is a game that’s always in my treatment bag for all age levels. Great for fine motor skills. My younger students have fun by just inserting them in or I’ll ask them to follow a 2 color pattern. My older students have a blast trying to imitate the pictures/designs presented to them.”
Recommended Age4 years old and older 16 The Sweetest Pineapple Set That Hones Emotional Skills
Kids love exploring emotions and playing together
Pineapple – Big Feelings. 26 adorable face pieces must be grasped and manipulated, which gives little hands a great workout. One reviewer shared this: “I am a pediatric [Occupational Therapist] and love using this pineapple as a tool for introducing emotions. Also doubles as a great fine motor toy.”The pineapple is available with two sides so that children may build both faces simultaneously. Recommended Age3 years or older 17 Sensory tool to improve fine motor skills
This is a great addition for any sensory table.
tool setThis set is great for fine motor skills, such as writing, cutting, and other fine motor skills. Reviewers say that the set can be used to transfer small objects like pom-poms or count bears. It can also be used to play with food items such as beans, rice and oats. The set includes scoopers and tweezers as well as droppers. They are made to be used with pre-scissors, without worrying about sharp edges. Recommendation age3 years or older Expert: Emma Hubbard Founder of Brightest Beginning HeyAre you ready for more? Subscribe to Scary Mommy’s daily email newsletter to receive more stories from the trenches