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Fine & Gross Motor Skills Activities

author image Barbara Dunlap
Barbara Dunlap is a freelance writer in Oregon. She was a garden editor at "The San Francisco Chronicle" and she currently specializes in travel and active lifestyle topics like golf and fitness. She received a master's degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has been a Knight Foundation Fellow.
Fine & Gross Motor Skills Activities
A baby picking up a strawberry with his fingers. Photo Credit Ekaterina Krasnikova/iStock/Getty Images


From running a marathon to brushing your teeth, all of your actions involve motor skills. Gross motor skills include running, jumping and other large movements; fine motor skills are small movements such as picking up a pencil and writing. The two kinds of skills often develop together in preschool and early elementary school, according to the 'The Encyclopedia of Children's Health." Parents can aid that development by doing small and gross motor activities with their children.

Art Projects

Art activities are a creative way to build fine motor skills. Shirleys Preschool Activities, a website that specializes in preschool curriculum, recommends drawing with crayons or markers, cutting with scissors, playing with clay and tearing paper into strips to use in collage or papier mache.

Fine Motor Skills Games

Kids enjoy practicing fine motor skills in the guise of games, says School-OT.com, an occupational therapy website. Fishing games are popular -- children have to use one hand to remove the toy fish while holding the line with the other hand. Penny flipping is another simple game in which kids flip over a line of pennies one by one.

Sewing Activities

You can introduce young children to fine-motor sewing skills without using needles. Give children pieces of yarn with a dry penne noodle tied at one end and a piece of tape wrapped around the other end. Kids use the tape as a needle to thread other noodles onto the yarn. Tie the two ends into a necklace at the end.

Ball Play

Ball activities help develop gross motor skills, according to the Sensory Processing Disorder Resource Center, an educational website created by an occupational therapist. Kicking a ball back and forth teaches kids to balance on one foot while contacting the ball with the other foot. Throwing balls develops hand coordination. To make throwing fun, set up a stack of blocks and let kids try to knock it down with the ball.

Gross Motor Skills Games

Turn gross motor development into a game. In Simon Says, tell children to stand up, sit down, bend to the side or touch their toes. Have the children imitate the actions of various animals, or play a shadow game in which you perform actions such as jumping jacks and the children follow suit.

Obstacle Courses

Obstacle courses provide entertaining ways to practice gross motor activities. You can use just about anything for the props. Lay down jump ropes or hula hoops so kids can jump in and over them; set out cones as a bike obstacle course; or let children step in and out of -- and, of course, bounce on -- tires placed on the ground.

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