Unique Ways to Build Your Child’s Motor Skills

Updated: March 13, 2024 | Published:

As a parent, you’ve likely already discovered that every kid is different. They all grow, develop and learn at different rates, which typically isn’t a problem. There comes the point where most kids go through a growth spurt or learn many new skills at once, catching them up to their peers. However, if you’re still concerned about your child, you can take steps to help them improve.

Motor skills are essential for everyday living — they help your child brush their teeth, get dressed, and play outside. Introducing your kid to unique and engaging activities will help them naturally build their motor skills and help them meet developmental milestones.

Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills use the small muscles in our hands, feet, fingers, and toes. Your child needs to improve strength and agility to perform essential tasks like pushing buttons and using a fork and spoon.

Ideally, it would be best to catch up on these skills before Kindergarten since schoolwork relies heavily on fine motor activities. These fun options will help you build those muscles at home.

1. Family Game Night

A regular family game night has hidden benefits, like honing fine motor skills. Any game where you move pieces around a board allows your child to practice their pincer grip. Aggravation is an excellent choice since all the pieces are marbles, which are even more challenging to grasp.

Operation is another classic that requires a steady hand and strong pincer grip, so it’s perfect for keeping those fine motor muscles strong in older kids. Another great game for finger dexterity is “Who Shook Hook.” Kids must use various tools to get booty off a wiggly net without making Captain Hook fall into the crocodile’s jaws.

2. Scissor Skills Activity Books

Scissor skills are essential for Kindergarten onward. However, the movements involved in cutting require several small muscles working together in a way that will initially feel unnatural to your child. Make the task more exciting by grabbing a scissor skills activity book. Amazon is full of options covering a range of interests and ability levels.

Before you set your kid loose, ensure you’ve given them safety scissors rather than regular ones so they don’t cut themselves when they inevitably slip.

3. Bath Time Water Play

Bath Time Water Play

Who knew bath time could be such a learning experience? When your child is in the tub, provide an assortment of toys like cups, sponges, and fillable toys. They’ll practice different grips with each object and have a blast doing it.

As a bonus, dumping water between cups will also improve your little one’s hand-eye coordination.

4. Threading

Threading activities allow your child to practice a precise pincer grip and help them build control over their small movements. For kiddos who are new to the skill, start with something simple like pipe cleaners and macaroni or beads. As they master threading objects on the pipe cleaners, move them to more difficult mediums like thick plastic string or twine and then work up to the thin string.

5. Inventor’s Box

Preschoolers and up will spend hours with an inventor’s box, building their fine motor skills and STEM knowledge without even knowing it. An inventor’s box is a small collection of items your child can tinker with to create something of their design.

You can purchase these online or create your own. You’ll need construction supplies like craft sticks, cardboard, tape, glue, and rubber bands. Any scraps or interesting materials you have on hand would work fine in an inventor’s box because there are no rules.

Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills involve movement in much larger muscle groups — the arms, legs and torso. Your children need to build these to crawl, walk, run, kick, throw, balance and so much more. These engaging activities will keep your child active and help them grow essential skills.

1. Nature Walks

Nature Walks

Build your child’s gross motor skills, lower your blood pressure and improve both of your moods with a nature walk. The combination of uneven terrain, sunshine and fresh air makes for a winning activity. Your child will practice balance and increase their limb and core strength. Encourage them to bend down to look for nature items or reach up to examine something.

2. Floor Is Lava

This classic game is an engaging way to work on your child’s gross motor skills. You can vary the difficulty and types of challenges in this game to match your kid’s current development. Space safe spots farther apart and at different heights to make it more challenging. Children need balance, muscle coordination and strength to make it away from the lava.

3. Water Balloon Fights

Throwing is an essential gross motor skill your child will work on during a water balloon fight. They’ll also run and duck, which are other important things to learn. Plus, who doesn’t love a good water-soaking throw-down? If you’d rather not use balloons or need something more manageable for small hands, wet sponges also work well and develop the same skills.

4. Obstacle Course

Kids love a good obstacle course, and you’ll love it too when you consider how great they are for developing gross motor skills. It builds muscle strength, endurance, coordination and balance. Head to the park and lay out a path your child needs to take to “win” or set up something fun in your backyard.

5. Dance Party

A family dance party in the living room is a burst of impromptu fun with a lasting impact. Pump up the kid-friendly tunes and encourage your child to get grooving. You could freestyle or try to mimic each other’s dance moves. Get every body part involved to build strength and flexibility.

A Little Practice Never Hurt

Whether your child is missing developmental milestones, seems right on track, or appears ahead for their age, having them practice these skills is always a good idea. Each activity here is fun, so your kid doesn’t need to know they’re working. While you’re at it, why don’t you try these and boost your muscles?


About Amy T. Smith

Amy is a mother, writer, and your go-to expert for real-life insights into parenting, health, and lifestyle. Amy holds a Master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University and prides herself on finding actionable tips and relatable tales.

Through her blog, AmyandRose, she supports you from pregnancy to the teenage years, offering assurance that your experiences are shared.

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