Four Free or Cheap Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers

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What are fine motor skills?

Fine motor skills are the use of smaller muscles in our hands that involve hand-eye coordination. When we improve our children’s fine motor skills we help increase their level of intelligence from an early age. The more we improve their fine motor skills the better and faster they are able to complete tasks.


Why are fine motor skills important?

Movement is one of the primary ways children learn to interact with the world around them. Fine motor skills are really essential to your child’s development. Without fine motor skills your little ones might struggle with writing with crayons and pencils, fastening buttons, tying shoe laces, brushing their teeth and cutting a piece of paper.


I’ve researched many different types of teaching and techniques and I really identify with Montessori principles. I try to implement the principles as much as I can. I really don’t have a huge budget to play with on home school materials so I have to get creative. I thought surely there is a way to teach without breaking the bank. If you are like me and don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on homeschooling supplies, please check out my four free or really cheap fine motor activities for toddlers below:


Putting the Sticks into a Popsickle Maker


This may seem like a very simple activity for us, but it can prove very valuable for developing toddler’s fine motor skills. We’ve had this popsickle maker for years and hardly used it. You could probably pick it up from a dollar store in your area.

Putting coins into a money tin


I made this money tin with an old coffee tin and cut a slit in the top so that he can put the ‘coins’ into the tin. He loves this activity and we count as he goes along. So it’s a great two for one. He ‘borrowed’ the coins from his sister (they are actually chips from a board game she no longer plays). You could use checkers chips or ones from a snakes and ladders game. You could also use real coins too.

Putting old CDs on a spindle


We all have old CDs that won’t play anymore and this game teaches fine motor skills in the best way. You can start with a few CDs and increase the number at your child’s own pace. It’s wonderful to see how your child can stack the CDs one by one and it’s a great quiet time activity.


Putting Straws into a spice jar


I used an empty sage bottle and seven straws, which I cut in half. The object is for him to place the straws into the holes of the sage jar. You could substitute straws with pipe cleaners. I’ve noticed that the more he does this activity the faster he completes it.


I’ve learnt that it is important to praise my son after he has completed an activity. It’s surprising how far a “good job” or a “well done” can go. It really built his self confidence and self esteem.


As I said before I love Montessori principles, but on a budget so instead of getting lots of trays (which are expensive) I asked family and friends for shoe boxes and use the lids as trays.


It’s a great way to keep costs down and reuse items that we would normally throw away. I’m planning to cover or paint them in different colours to coordinate with my lesson of the day.


And that’s my round up of four free or cheap fine motor skills activities for toddlers.


What other free or cheap fine motor activities do you use with your kids?


Please feel free to comment on this article. I’d love to hear from you.


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