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Fine-motor skills

The Best Toys and Tool for Fine-Motor Skills Development

February 16, 2019, Author: Tamra Cater

This post contains affiliate links, so if you click on the link and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no cost to you. 

Fine motor skills are “skills that employ the small muscles used in manipulation, such as those in the fingers” (Rathus, 2017). Fine motor skills allow a child to dress themselves, stack blocks, and hold a pencil. Thus, fine motor skills help develop hand-eye coordination and the muscles in the wrists, hands, and fingers.

Why are Fine Motor Skills Important?

  • May be associated with a child’s later academic outcomes (Memisevic & Hadzic, 2013).
  • Fine motor skill activities (such as using tweezers to move small objects) may be associated with attention (in one study, it was more so in females)
  • We need fine motor skills for certain life skills such as getting dressed.
  • If children do not have certain fine motor skills, their play options may be limited.

Fine Motor Skill Milestones for Toddlers (From Children’s Therapy and Family Resource Center)

Toddlers between 12-18 months:

  • Point to pictures in books
  • Build a tower using 2 blocks
  • Use a crayon to scribble
  • Point with pointer finger
  • Hold a cup and drink with some spilling
  • Remove his/her own socks

Toddlers between 18 months and 2 years:

  • Build a tower with 4-6 blocks
  • Put 4 rings on a stick
  • Scribble
  • Turn knobs
  • Throw a small ball
  • Can begin to string large beads
  • Feed oneself using spoon or fork
  • Pull up a large zipper
  • Start to hold a crayon
  • Put large shapes into a shape sorter

Toddlers between 2-3 years of age

  • Fold paper in half
  • Draw straight lines and circles
  • Hold crayons using thumb and forefinger
  • Use up to 9 blocks to create a tower
  • Cut the edges of paper with scissors (by 30 months)
  • Use large buttons
  • With supervision, the child can put on some articles of clothing.

If you are concerned about your child meeting any of these milestones, discuss this with your child’s doctor.

Toys and Tools for Fine-Motor Skills Development

*Click on image for more information


Playdough is a great one for strengthening the fingers and wrists. We got our daughter a play dough kit that came with little tools that allow her to cut the dough, as well as make shapes out of it. We also use our hands to roll the dough and essentially make “pancakes” out of it.

2.Spike the Fine-Motor Hedgehog

According to Amazon, this was a Toy of the Year Finalist. This toy is suggested for use with children that are 18 months and older. Also, not only does this toy help with fine motor skills, it can also be used to help build color recognition, sorting, and counting skills.

3.Wooden-Lacing Apple Threading Toy

This toy is suggested for those between 1 and 3 years of age. This toy helps children develop lacing skills, encourages fine-motor skills, and hand-eye coordination. This will help develop the skills that are necessary for tieing shoes.

4.Helping Hands Fine-Motor Tool Set

These strengthen hand muscles for writing. You can use beads, water, and pom-poms with these to help develop fine-motor skills.

5.Melissa & Doug Primary Lacing Beads

This has great reviews on Amazon! It helps build fine-motor, cognitive, and visual-perception skills, as well as hand-eye coordination. For example, parents can also help children identify the colors and count the beads.

6.Paint with Water Bundle

I have used these, and I love them! They are great for color recognition, developing fine-motor skills (holding paintbrushes helps develop the muscles responsible for holding a pencil), and developing hand-eye coordination.

7. Alex Discover Button Art

This toy has excellent reviews, and it helps develop hand-eye coordination, fine-motor skills, and creative thinking. This is recommended for children who are 18 months and older.

8. Melissa and Doug Lace and Trace Activity

This toy is ideal for practicing fine motor skills. Children can also practice identifying shapes while practicing lacing skills. This toy is recommended for children who are 3 years of age and older.

I hope these recommendations help! If you enjoyed the post or think that someone else could benefit from these tips, please share!! 🙂 And for more information and tips, like us on Facebook!


My little one enjoying painting with water!



Fine motor skills. (2018). Retrieved from

Memisevic, H. & Hadzic, S. (2013). The relationship between visual-motor  integration and articulation disorders in preschool children. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, and Early Intervention, 6, 23-30.

Rathus, S. A. (2017).  Childhood: Voyages in development (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Stewart, R., Rule, A. C., & Giordano, D. A. (2007). The effect fine motor skill activities in kindergarten student attention. Early Childhood Education Journal, 35, 103-109.

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comments (6)

  • avatar image
    You've got some great suggestions here. I think many people overlook the benefits of using playdoh - it's such a simple item but has so many options


    April 22, 2019 Reply
    • avatar image
      You are right! My daughter loves play dough!

      Tamra Cater

      April 22, 2019 Reply
  • avatar image
    These are super cute! I'm already starting a list for when my little one gets old enough to start developing these things! A lot of these toys will definitely be on it! Thanks for sharing!


    April 22, 2019 Reply
    • avatar image
      Thank you!

      Tamra Cater

      April 22, 2019 Reply
  • avatar image
    Great article, I have a preemie so she has a hard time keeping up with milestones and is usually 3 months behind, so I will have to look into these toys to help her! Thanks for sharing!

    Ariana Dagan

    April 23, 2019 Reply
    • avatar image
      Thank you! ?

      Tamra Cater

      April 23, 2019 Reply