Fine Motor Skills

Tweezer Sort

Tweezers are great for strengthening and refining fine motor skills. Use an old ice cube tray and hot glue a different color craft bead (these are sometimes called pony beads) to the bottom of each section of the tray. Put a pair of tweezers (they can be blunt metal or plastic) in a bag with an assortment of beads of all colors. Your child can tweeze as ...(read more)

Matching Grab Bags

This game is great fun for both preschoolers and school-age kids, and helps develop fine motor skills. Gather up various small objects -- you'll need 2 of each item (one for you and one for your child). Examples of items that you can use: buttons, pennies (and other change), beans, cotton balls, Lego pieces, paper clips, etc. Divide the items into 2 paper lunch sacks so ...(read more)

Straw Beading

For many kids, stringing beads on a string can be frustrating. You can make it easier if you let them string beads on a coffee stirrer or pipe cleaner. You can hot glue a bead on one end of a straw or bend the end of the pipe cleaner to act as the "stopper" bead, then let your little artist go to work! They can make a ...(read more)


Fruit Loop Pattern Necklaces

Using fruit loops and dental floss, create a pattern for your child to follow. For instance, blue loop, red loop, blue loop, red loop, and then have child tell you next piece in the pattern and add to necklace. You can increase the difficulty by adding more colors to the pattern. Your child can then wear and eat her "fruity" necklace. (read more)

Rainbow Letters

This helps kids learn directionality in forming letters and can help reinforce name writing. On a piece of construction paper write the first letter of your child's name with a dark marker. First have your child trace the letter with her finger, using the correct formation sequence. You can draw direction arrows if you wish. Have a rainbow array of crayons for your child to trace ...(read more)

Q-Tip Painting

Draw a simple picture on a piece of construction paper. For example, a large tree. Then show your child how to fill in the picture by using just the tip of a cotton swap. This will create "dots" of color that blend together to make a whole. It is fun to watch your child try to fill up all the white spaces without using a brush ...(read more)

Paper Clipping Art

When my toddler was learning to cut, I was constantly vacuuming up little paper clippings, until I came up with a creative use for them. Give your child scraps of colored paper and let them cut away. Gather up the clippings and have your child help you arrange them into different shapes and patterns on a piece of cardstock. Glue them down to the cardstock, creating a ...(read more)

Marshmallow Architecture

Take a box of tooth picks and a bag of mini marshmallows and put them out on a table. Then show the kids how to create three-dimensional structures by placing the marshmallows onto the tooth picks. They have a great time creating big structures, houses, tunnels, etc. Some nibbling involved!(read more)


Drawing Music

Put on some music for your little one. It can be classical, jazzy, kids or adult music. Give him a paper and crayon and have him draw the music he hears. Does it make him want to make slow, lazy loops or fast and frantic dots? Does it make him feel like using a blue, red or yellow crayon? Do it alongside your child and ...(read more)

Breaking the Piggy Bank or Banking 101

Sorting, counting, and rolling coins is a great way to teach your child about money. We put all our spare change in my son's piggy bank and then when it's full, my son gets to dump it out and we roll the coins together. First we have him sort the different coins, then put the coins into stacks of 5-10, then we roll the coins. Great fine ...(read more)


Shoes to Lace

Trace your child's feet in his or her tennis shoes onto tagboard or cardboard and cut out the outline of the shoes. Then, mark eight spots on the shoes and punch out holes in these spots using a hole punch. Lace the cardboard cut-outs as you would your child's tennis shoes, and use them to help your child practice tying shoes. (read more)

Circles in the Sand

Looking for something new and different to encourage learning while playing outside with your child? Create your own "learning board" out of sand. If you do not have a sandbox, purchase some sand and place it in a large, flat container like a baking pan. Help your child collect small items from around the yard. Use each item to press into or drag across the sand. ...(read more)

Learning to Write

This is a good activity for parents whose children are not in a preschool yet but are interested in learning to write letters, or where the preschool is not teaching at that level yet. My daughter loves to "trace" letters that I write to practice her form, so I make hand-made simple worksheets for her using dashes to form the letter and then give her a sticker for the ...(read more)

Using Tongs

Set a pile of cotton balls on the table. Have your child use tongs (small ones) to pick up the cotton balls and place them in a small bowl. This activity is a wonderful way to build up the hand muscles that your child will use when he or she holds a pencil or crayon. You can also use this activity as a way to practice basic ...(read more)

Matching Sticker Shapes

Buy a package of stickers. Cut around the edge of each sticker, without peeling off the backing of the sticker. Trace each sticker onto a piece of paper. Then peel off the backing and have your child match the shape and stick it onto the paper. This is great for working on fine motor skills and learning matching skills.(read more)


Cutting Food

Here is a simple way to entertain your child while you are preparing meals in the kitchen. Give your child a cutting board and a plastic knife (or if they are old enough, a butter knife). Next give him some of the things you are using in your cooking: a piece of bread, an orange peel, part of a banana, a piece of tomato, and let him ...(read more)


Working with Tongs

Help your child with her fine motor skills with this kitchen utensil game. Find two bowls and fill them with water. Take your smaller, waterproof kitchen items and put them in one of the bowls. Give your child the kitchen tongs and show her how to hold them as well open and close them. Then ask them to grab the items in one bowl and transfer them to the other.(read more)

Ripping and Roaring

A great way to help your children build fine motor skills is to have them rip strips of paper. The dexterity needed to rip pieces of paper helps them gain fine motor control. You can use the strips to make art projects (we made flags and collages of tiny pieces). You can also have your child crumple up the pieces they've torn and shoot baskets with them, ...(read more)

Handmade Snowflakes

Take a piece of white paper. Have the child fold it several times into a small piece. Cut off the corners, and cut triangles into the sides and open! It should resemble an original snowflake art to be hung in a window. You can make several and string them together to hang from the ceiling.(read more)

Tracing Shapes

Before starting this activity, take a half sheet paper and draw with a heavy black marker several simple shapes (heart, moon, star, flower, car, face, etc...) onto the paper. Then, give your child several half sheets of tracing paper and colored pencils. Have your child use a piece of tracing paper and colored pencil to trace different shapes and then create a setting around them. ...(read more)


Creating Snacklaces

This is a slightly more nutritious variation of candy jewelry. Cut yarn or string in different lengths for your child to wear as a necklace or bracelet. Let your child decorate it by stringing on Cheerios or small pretzels. Make extras - they're fun to carry around for your child to nibble on!(read more)

Being Savvy Today

Tips for Choosing "After-Preschool" Activities and Classes


More and more, it seems, there are so many different kinds of activities and classes geared to the little ones. Deciding which ones to try and which to pass on sometimes gets confusing. There are all the wonderful music classes that encourage you to bring your baby before

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