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Fine motor skills are small movements that make a big impact on our everyday lives, and they’re vital for our young learner’s development.
Fine motor skills are defined as “the coordination of small muscles in movement with the eyes, hands and fingers” ( For kindergarteners and first graders, important milestones include:
  • Holding a pen or pencil properly
  • Drawing pictures and writing letters neatly
  • Using a keyboard
  • Handling scissors, ruler and other tools in school

But we know it goes beyond that for our young learners. Your kindergartener might still be figuring out how to tie their shoes, pour their own cereal, open a fruit snack and maybe even how to unsnap that tiny button on a frustrating jacket.

Of course, the best way to get better at these things are to, well, try and practice. But we know these activities lose a young student’s attention pretty quickly. Plus, you can always work on developing those small muscles to make these milestones much easier to accomplish–in a way they will love!

Primavera Special Education Teacher Lisa Naramorre shared with us a few of the activities she loves to do with kids that are fun with a purpose! They can help with brain and fine motor skills development.

Here are the activities to do this summer with your child as recommended by Mrs. Narramore.

1. Tornado in a bottle

This classic craft is more than just fun. It’s educational and helps kids form grip strength as they lift and turn the bottle. Here’s how to do it:

Materials needed: empty glass bottle with lid, water, funnel, glitter

Step 1 – Use the funnel to put 3-4 tablespoons of glitter in an empty glass jar.

Helpful Tip: The more glitter you use, the better you will be able to see the tornado.

Step 2 – Next, fill the jar about 3/4 full of water.

Step 3 – Put the lid back on the jar

Make sure the lid is really tight, or it won’t work properly.

Step 4 – Turn the bottle upside down and quickly move the bottle in a circular motion for 10-15 seconds.

Step 5 – Finally, set the bottle down on the table and observe the tornado that has formed. 

It might not be a perfect tornado, but even with a little shaking, a child should be able to get the water and glitter to spin around in the bottle.

2. Fine Motor Man

Art crafts are a great way to develop fine motor skills, and this fine motor man has it all! Cutting thin lines, drawing, coloring and using glue. Here’s how to make your fine motor character:

Materials needed- toilet paper roll, scissors, markers, crayons, anything to decorate such as glitter, stickers, ribbon, etc.

Step 1 – Begin by coloring the top 1/3 of the toilet paper roll.

This will be the “hair” so color it one color, multiple colors or add glitter!

Step 2 – Draw on a face below the hair.

Step 3 – Cut the hair into thin strips using the safety scissors.

Note: It might be easiest to hold the tube from the opposite end while cutting. Watch how your child holds it to make sure he or she has safe hand placement.

Step 4 – Fluff out the hair and decorate as desired.

3. Jellyfish Windchime

Materials needed- plastic cup, paper clips, crazy/googly eyes, glue, string, a safe tool for poking holes

Step 1 – Start by making a number of different paper clip chains.

You can make patterns or do each tentacle one color.

Step 2 – Have an adult use a small screwdriver (or another sharp tool) to poke holes around the top drinking edge of your plastic cup.

You can also use a paper cup if you plan on hanging your craft indoors- no need for it to be waterproof.

Step 3 – Connect each paperclip tentacle to the cup through the little holes.

Step 4 – Optional: Hang a jingle bell onto the bottom of each paperclip chain.

Step 5 – Add some googly eyes.

Step 6 – Have an adult poke a hole in the center, bottom of the cup.

Place a string through the hole and knot it to hang.

4. Cheerios Bird Feeder

Materials needed– wire/pipe cleaners, Cheerios, ribbon or string for hanging

Step 1 – String your Cheerios on a straight piece of pipe cleaner or wire.

For more difficulty, try shaping the wire and making some hearts or “Christmas Tree” shapes.

Step 2 – Shape your wire FIRST.

Once the Cheerios are on, it is harder to handle the wire and you are likely to break off the Cheerios! So shape them into your desired patterns. For a Christmas tree, you can wrap the wire around a bottle first, and then figure it into the pattern.

Step 3 – Get the kids to thread on the Cheerios. 

Step 4 – Once full, carefully twist the wires together to “seal” the ends.

Step 5 – Add a ribbon for hanging and the Cheerios Bird Feeders are done.

Other great activities for fine motor skills include coloring, painting, making paper airplanes, and gardening!  Color by numbers and playdough/slime activities are great too. For better finger strength, include small things in your crafts, such as beads or mini googly eyes.
Once you’ve finished a craft or two, be sure to share it with us! You can email photos over to [email protected] and we’ll feature it on Primavera social media.

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