By Sara Hudson, OTD, OTR/L

Did you know that there is so much more to having good finger skills than swiping on a phone or playing video games? Fine motor skills are essential to a child’s development. Without fine motor skills, a child wouldn’t be able to:

  • Hold utensils to eat
  • Write, draw, and color
  • Button/unbutton
  • Push together and pull apart Legos
  • Turn pages of a book

You don’t have to spend money on toys or games made to target eye-hand coordination. Here are some activities that you can do to increase your child’s fine motor coordination with regular household items!

Kitchen Tongs

  • Pick up and transport anything using the tongs (e.g. cotton balls, marshmallows, Goldfish). Put the items into the individual slots of a muffin tin or an empty egg carton to encourage more precise fine motor movements.


  • Stack them. How high can you go before the tower falls?
  • Flip them. Can you find all of the heads?
  • Put them into a piggy bank or make your own bank by cutting a thin slit into a cardboard box.

Empty Plastic Water Bottle

  • Practice opening/closing the lid.
  • Fill up the bottle with q-tips, cotton balls, or pieces of cereal.

Straws, Toothpicks, and a Colander

  • Slide the toothpicks through the straw. Have a race to see who can do 15 the fastest.
  • Push the toothpicks through the holes of a colander

Scrap Paper

  • Tear the paper into little pieces. Use the pieces to make a collage.
  • Fold it. Make paper airplanes or origami creatures.
  • Crumple it. Have an indoor snowball fight!

Sponges, Cups, and Pans

  • Transport water from one pan to another by filling up the sponge with water and squeezing it into another pan.
  • Use a cup to scoop up water from one pan and transfer it another pan. Try not to spill any water.
  • Stack and unstack the cups.
  • Build pyramids and towers with the pans and cups.

Chip Clips or Clothespins

  • Squeeze the clips/pins around an empty plastic food container and have your child remove them.

Fine motor activities can be extremely fun and motivating for young children especially if you sit down and play with them. If you show them the cool things they can do with these kinds of items, you might be surprised by the amount of time they’ll stay entertained all the while working on essential hand skills. Have fun!