Help Kids Develop Fine and Gross Motor Skills

I met my niece, Maeve, a few months ago. It was love at first sight.

As a newborn, Maeve lived a pretty lowkey, tech-free lifestyle. It was simple: sleep, cry, eat, repeat. She didn’t move much, instead preferring to nestle into her blanket and nap. When she did wiggle around, most of her movements were involuntary reflexes. She had no motor skill control.

Now that Maeve’s five months old, however, she’s discovering how to use her body. Her arms and legs are always dancing and her grip is tight as can be. It’s only a matter of time before she’s scooting around the kitchen, a master of basic motor skills.

Like Maeve, most kids use motor skills every single day. Gross motor skills help them get out of bed, walk down the stairs, and hop onto the school bus every morning, while fine motor skills give children the ability to perform precise movements like writing, tying shoes, and zipping up their coat on a snowy winter day.

Most kids develop motor skills at a pace that works for them. Some children, however, need a bit more hands-on help as they learn to grip, grasp, walk, and run. If your child needs extra practice perfecting their fine and gross motor skills, it’s easy to help them out: just try some of these 40 fun activities!

Before we get into the list, though, let’s learn a little bit more about the differences between gross and fine motor skills.

What Are Gross Motor Skills?

Running, walking, jumping, oh my!

Our bodies are capable of some pretty amazing things—and gross motor skills make them all possible. These skills give kids the ability to make broad, whole-body movements like scooting, crawling, and, eventually, walking.

Learning how to use their gross motor skills is one of the most important developmental milestones in a child’s life. These skills help children live independently and accomplish everyday tasks, like getting dressed, without too much assistance.

What Are Fine Motor Skills?

Congratulations: just by scrolling through this article, you’re putting your fine motor skills to work!

Fine motor skills give children the ability to make dexterous movements like gripping, cutting, and typing. They typically develop after gross motor skills and use smaller muscles, like those in the hands, wrists, and fingers.

Kids use fine motor skills every day. Some examples of activities that fine motor skills make possible are writing with a pencil, brushing teeth, eating with silverware, and scrolling through an educational blog post.

Forty Fun Ways to Help Kids Practice Motor Skills

Some kids develop motor skills at a slower pace than their peers. If this sounds familiar, helping your child regularly practice these skills could make a difference. Encourage them as they practice and gently correct them if they make a mistake. After all, practice makes perfect!

With that in mind, try these activities to give your child some practice with their gross motor skills:

1.       Go on a walk around the neighborhood

2.       Join a youth sports team

3.       Hit the pool for a swim

4.       Jump on the trampoline

5.       Dance

6.       Take a short hike

7.       Play a game of freeze tag

8.       Practice walking like different animals

9.       Do some yoga

10.   Try to keep a balloon in the air as long as possible

11.   Create an obstacle course

12.   Race down the street

13.   Visit the park

14.   Play a round of hopscotch

15.   Hold a Hula-Hoop competition

If you’re looking to help your child hone their fine motor skills, give these activities a shot:

16.   Play with a bead roller coaster

17.   Mold Play-Doh into interesting shapes

18.   Write in a journal

19.   Draw a picture

20.   Make a craft

21.   Fold origami (try one of these three crafts!)

22.   Play dress up with your child’s favorite doll

23.   Play video games

24.   Make a delicious snack in the kitchen

25.   Eat the snack afterwards

26.   Build with LEGOs

27.   Type a letter to a friend

28.   Play with a Tech Deck

29.   Untangle wires and cords

30.   Build and balance a tall block tower

Finally, try these activities to help your kids practice both gross and fine motor skills:

31.   Take the family bowling

32.   Weed and dig in the garden

33.   Try rock climbing

34.   Go on a bike ride

35.   Play Simon Says

36.   Play a round of cornhole

37.   Do a scavenger hunt

38.   Give your child some playground time

39.   Build a snowman

40.   Go sledding, skiing, or snowboarding

Motor Skills Set Kids Free

It’s been such a treat to watch Maeve grow up and learn how to use her motor skills. After all, motor skills are some of the most important capabilities that kids can develop. Gross motor skills help them move and live independently, while fine motor skills give them the ability to perform important actions like writing, cooking, and eating.  

As your kids get older, they may want to use their fine motor skills to scroll, tap, text, and call on their very own smartphone. Giving your child their first phone can be pretty intimidating—but with a smartphone from Troomi, it doesn’t have to be.

Troomi smartphones are made with children’s safety and success at the forefront of our minds. They feature high-grade security, the best educational apps, and the Parent Portal which gives you the power to add functionality as your child matures. Troomi makes it easy to teach your child how to develop a healthy relationship with technology, free from distractions like video games and social media. Click here to learn more!

And don’t forget to swing back by the Troomi blog for more parenting know-how that you won’t want to miss.