Taby Play,  Toddler

15 Fine Motor Activities for Tabies and Toddlers

The taby and toddler years can be super hard. If your children are anything like mine, then the chances are they are super busy and in to everything! The activities I do with mine are always short, sweet and super easy to set up. Read on to discover some simple ways to help develop fine motor skills…

Before reading further, please note that all of these activities are to be done under strict supervision as some materials featured would be considered a choking hazard.. The intention of the activities are the help your little one develop fine motor skills – they are not ‘busy tasks’ that will occupy your child whilst you get on with other things, sorry!

I’m a big believer in stage not age, therefore these activities are generally suitable for children aged between 1 and 2. For reference, E is now 17 months old and all of these activities have been photographed over the last few months, so we’re talking ages 14-17 months.

1. Post-It Pull

Place post-it notes at random heights on the wall. Your taby shouldn’t need any invitation to pull them down.

Modify: draw pictures e.g. animals of colours to work on some vocabulary.

2. Stick Drop

Use craft sticks or lolly sticks and invite your little one to ‘post’ them into a coffee cup. These takes a lot of concentration and focus.

Modify: start of simple by posting craft sticks into an open-necked plastic bottle, eventually graduate to smaller sized holes.

3. Ribbon Pull

Use a sharp knife to stab hole into a cardboard box that has one side removed(somewhat therapeutic!) then thread ribbon through – tie a thick double knot in each end so the ribbon wont slip through. Your taby can then problem solve

Modify: this activity can actually be done from a much younger age. E was around 8 months old when this photograph was taken. Initially they will likely only be able to pull the ribbon one way, then overtime, figure out how to turn the box around and pull from the other side.

4. Cheerio Push

Stab holes into an upturned egg carton, then invite your toddler to push cheerios through. You can read more about it here.

Modify: this activity can also be done with craft sticks or straws

5. Washi Tape Peel

This is as simple as it gets really! Stick some washi tape onto a flat surface and your taby will likely do the rest!

Modify: keep part of the tape up to make it easier or make it more challenging by putting craft sticks under that need ‘rescuing.’

6. Scarf Pull

Place a mini silk scarf or two into a whisk (or oball) for your taby to pull out.

Modify: you can put smaller objects such as pompoms in, but you do need to be extremely cautious as they are a choking hazard. At 18 months, i’ve just started introducing the pompom version but I watch him like a hawk!

7. Dot Sticker Peel

This is basically a more fiddly version of the washi tape peel! The dot stickers are harder to get off so it requires more perseverance. As they peel a sticker off, talk about the shape or colour.

Modify: As understanding grows, try asking questions instead – e.g. can you find a circle that is yellow?

8. Colander Thread/ Pull

Thread pipe cleaners through a colander and invite your little one to ‘pull’ them out. Pro tip: snip the sharp ends off first.

Modify: This also works the opposite way as a threading activity for children with more advanced fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

9. Ring Stack

Use either a traditional ring stacking tower or a paper tower holder and invite your toddler to stack the rings on – we used the grapat rings here, but wooden rings can also be bought cheaply from places like Amazon.

Modify – use smaller objects e.g. food pouch lids on dry spaghetti as your taby grows more confident. Again, be aware that food pouch lids would cause a choking hazard so do not attempt with a child that still mouths everything!

10. Animal Sound Peel

This was suggested by one of my followers after I shared my dot sticker peel over on Instagram – thanks @em_brooke_d! As your taby / toddler peels the sticker off share the animal and sound it make. This was a great activity for us as we’ve just been on a farm stay.

Modify: try smaller stickers for children with more developed motor skills.

11. DIY Guitar

This is so easy peasy! Simply wrap some elastic bands around a deep loaf tin (or anything similar you may have to hand)

12. Shape Rescue

This is very similar to the DIY guitar but with the addition of shapes to rescue. As your child pulls out a shape, describe it by name and colour.

Modify: add more elastic bands, including length-ways for extra challenge.

13. Paint Squish Bags

This is a good way to keep all of the mess contained. Simply put some paints into a ziplock sandwich bag so that your toddler can explore colours. You can also opt to draw pictures on the front e.g. the sun is yellow…etc.

Modify: try colour mixing as an early introduction to colour theory.

14. Post Box

We have done so many variations on posting, from an actual ‘Royal Mail’ style postbox to simpler ring posting as shown above.

Modify: the colour slots were drawn on for extra challenge, so it acts as a good sorting activity too.

15. Painting

Toddlers can be messy: fact. They can also put all the things in their mouths. Try water painting or juice painting (as shown above). You can read more about the raspberry paint activity here.

Modify: try squishing and exploring different berries to make juice.

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British primary school teacher and mum of 2.

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