Common household items to improve fine motor skills

By Kelsey Flack

As a therapist, I often hear people say to me, “Kelsey, I don’t have all of those expensive toys that you do and I don’t know what to use.” I am here to tell you, you don’t need fancy toys!. While I do have some therapy-specific tools in my cabinets, they are also full of basic household items to work on fine motor skills. 

Fine motor skills, “involve the small muscles that control the hand, fingers and thumb. With the development of these skills, a child is able to complete important tasks such as writing, feeding oneself, buttoning and using a zipper. These abilities gradually develop through experience and exposure to a variety of toys, materials and even some foods.”  (source)

Below is a list of at-home items to improve fine motor skills: 

  • Empty water bottle: Use a pincer grasp to pick up pasta, rice, or beans
  • Baby wipe container filled with fabric: Have children pull out the fabric
  • Clothespins: Squeeze clothespins and place onto cardboard
  • Pipe cleaners: Place and remove pipe cleaners from a colander
  • Scissors: Cut straws, yarn, or playdough
  • Straws: Place straws into the lid of parmesan cheese container
  • Rubber Bands: Place rubber bands on a paper towel/toilet paper roll
  • Toothpicks: Pick up toothpicks and place into the top of a spice/seasoning container
  • Cooking utensils: Play with pots and pans, measuring cups, and spoons
  • Q-Tips: Use q-tips to paint with
  • Hardware: Nuts and bolts
  • Hole punch: Have children practice punching holes in a piece of paper
  • Coins: Pick up and stack coins
  • Coins: Put coins in a piggy bank or jar
  • Hands: Use a pincer grasp for finger foods with self-feeding
  • Cheerios: Place cheerios onto a spaghetti noodle 
  • Pasta: String pasta onto yarn or pipe cleaner
  • Marbles: Place marbles onto golf tees
  • Coloring
  • Puzzles
  • Finger painting
  • Animal walks
  • Playdough

Creating at home fine motor activities is easier than you think! Which of these ideas could you try today?

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