Quality time fine motor skill activities for 6-36 months

This is part of a series of posts on activities for babies and toddlers between the age of 6 and 36 months. At this young age almost everything can be viewed as building fine motor skills. As babies begin to refine their grip and accuracy when touching objects in order to make it do what the want (usually go in their mouths).

So here are some key activities that you can do with your kids with items you have in your home that will improve their coordination, vocabulary and inquisitiveness.

1) stickers  I still have this. Written on the back it states Kealan’s first picture. He was 8 months old. These type of foam stickers are widely available in pound stores. We have 3 boxes filled with all shapes and sizes, which Elyse regularly selects from to create pictures.  At first your baby will only be able to take the sticker from you once you have removed the back and hopefully get it somewhere on the paper. As toddlers they will start trying to remove the backs themselves which is such a good fine motor skill activity. As your child reaches the age of 3 they should start manipulating the sticker so that it is the image is the right way up on the paper, however Kealan who is now over 4 and a half still doesn’t care enough to do this. They’re all different!

2) muffin/cupcake trays Grab one out of your cupboard or from the pound shop and give your baby things to place in each circle. You could use ball pool balls, wooden blocks or any toys that will fit.

Another version using ice cube trays and Pom Poms.  

3) filling
  Empty cereal container and plastic dolly pegs. Best toy in our house for at least a week. There are some great fill and spill toys and this one was our favourite. It’s still played with today.  

4) pegs  Same container and pegs as above but I slotted the pegs along the edge and baby Elyse had loads of fun removing them (whilst simultaneously sucking on the a sealed toothpaste tube!)

5) tin foil  Grab lots of items (in this example it was all our plastic fruit) and wrap them in tin foil. Children love unwrapping things, it doesn’t matter what’s inside.  
 6) dot markers  These are dot markers which can be costly but well worth the expense. We’ve had ours for 3 years and they are still going strong. Bingo markers do the same job but can stain a lot.  They are ideal for little ones to who aren’t yet able to hold regular markers. 

7) stacking Stacking cups are very cheap but are a brilliant toy. Stacking requires concentration, resilience and accuracy. They also make excellent bath toys.

8) puzzles To make simple puzzles for babies tape pictures to megablocks.

9) tubes  Offer a variety of sizes of cardboard tubes for posting inside each other.

10) wipes  Ok, so this one can be aggravating! But it’s a favourite. Consider keeping a packet aside for this activity.

11) poking  An empty cardboard box and plant labels make an excellent toy. Florists blocks and lolly pop sticks are also a lot of fun. Or of course playdough.  

12) painting  
Painting is an obvious activity but for little ones I would advise wooden shapes (the works do them for £1) or card shapes (packs in Poundland). Paper is frustrating for little ones. They load too much paint on and the paper rips.  Art at this age is all about process and never about results but if you want something to put on the wall then tape resist art is the best way. Tap out their name or stripes for example using masking tape. You can use card but a cheap canvas works much better (Poundland have a great one). Let the baby get busy with the paint and then when finished gently peel off the tape before the paint dries to reveal their masterpiece.   Vertical painting is a very different experience so an easel or page taped to the window is great. Standing, holding the pen or brush and using wide strokes to cover the page combine to make a challenging activity for toddlers. 

Other posts in this series are:-

Quality time sensory play ideas for 6-36 months

Quality Time learning colour tot trays

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