Developing Fine Motor Skills Through Play

There are more than 600 muscles in the human body. These muscles allow us to do so many things! Thanks to our muscles, we can get dressed in the morning, hold forks and spoons, open and close doors, turn the pages of a book, hold a pencil—you are constantly using you muscles in both big and small ways. These muscles strengthen over time and need to be worked in order to grow.

At LEAP when you child is running around, climbing in the log to peek at the gorillas, jumping with joy, or simply walking from one station to another, he is developing his gross motor skills. Smaller actions like picking up shells to examine them, carefully balancing one block on top of the other and holding a paintbrush at the art station are examples of fine motor skill development. Here’s a simple breakdown of the two:

Muscle development, both big and small is vitally important to developing other life skills. Below are some of our favorite activities from this season of LEAP as well as additional resources for practicing fine motor skills. Have fun!

Use a variety of tools for sensory play.

We mix it up week to week and use different tools for scooping, pouring, and picking up whatever treasures are hidden in the bin! We even have special tweezers that look like mini alligators for picking up the tiniest of things. Found here:


When children have a variety of materials to glue onto their paper, they have to sort through items and pick them out one at a time. When making collages like the green forest collage we made last week, LEAPers had to hold a sponge brush to apply glue and pick up small pieces of paper, straws, feathers and pomp oms one at a time and place them on their papers.

Fabric Weaving

During our “Nest” theme, LEAPers participated in weaving their own nest, just like a bird would do! We created a simple loom out of cardboard and yarn and left the rest to you! Grasping scraps of fabric, ribbon, sticks and pom poms and weaving them in and out of the loom works little fingers.

Felt Boards

Winter LEAP Wednesday Arctic 052.JPG

You’ll see this station every week at LEAP and it’s great for fine motor practice and for working your little one’s imagination! Picking out individual pieces of felt and places them on the board creates colorful creations made up of different shapes and sizes.



Fort Building

Building a giant fort you can walk in may be out of your toddler’s league, but she can always help hang fabric on her level. You’ll notice we always make sure to include a low hanging rope with lots of small fabric scraps and clothespins so little LEAPers can help, too! Pinching clothespins and clipping them onto the rope is an excellent way to strengthen tiny fingers!

If you’re looking for even more ideas to practice those fine motor skills, below are some of our favorite resources. Check them out!




Written by Emily Van Laan