Fine motor activities suggestions


Active Member
difficult child 2 is doing alot of fine motor work with the Occupational Therapist and she has made some suggestions for stuff for him to do at home. But they're pretty general. Arts and Crafts projects, handwriting practice, etc.

I've shopped around a various craft & art stores, but can't seem to find anything that difficult child really wants to do. He likes building models, but he gets frustrated with the small parts. The level 1 models are too easy for him, but the level 2's are too hard as they have sooo many small pieces. (I mean tweezer-size small!) I also looked at alot of the scrapebook type stuff, but it's too foo-foo for him. He didn't want to do any of the clay stuff we looked at either as he doesn't like the way it feels on his hands. Painting is out as I have too much 'new' stuff in the house to let him get paint everywhere - which he would.

So, anybody got any ideas/suggestions? I'm trying to find some kits or instructions/plans for small wood-working type projects or something for him. Something more 'boyish' that won't insult his new-found understanding of boys being 'different' from girls. :rolleyes:

I want to find something that will interest him, or else getting him to do it will be more fight than it's worth. I know Craftsman makes kits that include smaller versions of real metal Craftsman tools, but I bought him those for Christmas last year. He's already done them all. He enjoyed them, but I think they were a little on the easy side for him.

I did get him a Chemistry set from the hobby store. He likes doing the experiments and alot of them do involve good fine motor skills & hand/eye coordination. But I know the kit will only hold his interest for a few days. Then he'll have done all the experiments and be ready to move on to something else.


New Member
Papier mache masks (there are so many kinds, lots of scary ones; I got a book from the library). Balloon base, strips of newspaper, and a favourite here was all colours of tissue paper laid across the face-form. He might not like the feel of the glue/water mix, though.

Origami ... not girlish, it's oriental. Frogs and 'boy' things to make. Both David and Jess do it.

Wind chimes with copper tubing (get the hardware store to cut one length into several smaller lengths, random), and use nature things to build it up ... he can use a drill, for example, to make holes in the drift wood 'cross' to hang the tubes/shells/rocks etc from. You will need a special drill bit for the holes in the copper tubing.

An indoor herb garden - or outdoor. There are many you can plant at any time ... choose according to it being indoor or out, herbs or bean sprouts; good if he has to thin out the seedlings. He could build boxes for his gardens with his tool set.

A worm farm. Perhaps you could get pieces of clear acryllic for the sides, wood at the ends, and he can see his worms at work through the sides.

If he wants choc chip cookes ... give him the recipe and let him get on with it. Some surprising results but what the heck - they eat the dough anyway.

Cutting out snowflake shapes from folded paper to stick on the windows. Goop Off will remove the stickiness from the windows, when you need to. Have the vacuum at hand for all the little bits of paper ... and give him GOOD scissors as kiddy ones are frustrating.

Can you allow him to paint one wall of his bedroom however he wants it? Graffiti? It can always be painted over ... been there done that.

I have lots more ideas ... let me know the parameters - what he would NOT like so I can avoid it.



Active Member
Wow Addie! Lots of ideas.

I think the wind chime thing would be a great idea for him. And I already have all the tools (including the drill bit for copper piping!) Hmm...getting lots of ideas with this. Michael's (do you guys have Michael's up there? It's a HUGE craft store) has a ton of ceramic stuff you can paint. I've seen lots of wind chimes with ceramics as well. Hmmm. The mind's going now...that could be dangerous. lol. I think having him string the wires to hang the chimes would do him a TON of good. Not to mention all three of them could paint the ceramic figures too. Hmmm.....

As for his likes...he likes anything he can 'build', anything that involves using tools, working with wood & metal, or anything that involves science type stuff (hence the chem set).

We tried Origami once as a rainy day activity, but he didn't have the patience for it. He kept getting aggravated when he couldn't figure it out right away. (I didn't know MicroSoft Publisher had instructions you can print for paper airplanes and Origami until someone mentioned it to me - had it on my puter all the time!)

He does like alot of art/drawing activities. He's actually very good, when he wants to be. I may browse through Michael's painting section and see what they have to offer for pen & ink or charcoal drawing. That might interest him. His aunt (my sister) is very artistic and won several awards in high school for her pen & ink and charcoal work. She might be able to give him some pointers too.

Thanks Addie. You gave my brain a good kick start. Now I've got all kinds of ideas going. But keep 'em coming. You never know what might spark an idea.


New Member
My son has these issues and sees an Occupational Therapist (OT), but not over the summer. He is taking a Penmanship class though. They do a lot of tracing. My son loves to trace. He also does Legos. In Occupational Therapist (OT) he digs beads out of clay, but we don't do that at home.

My son would never do a bunch of arts and crafts stuff (Bor-ing). He likes to make mud and dig in it. He'll bury small plastic toys, like little Yu-Gi-Oh characters and dig them out again.

He's typing more on the keyboard, now that he does and that helps the fine motor skills.

I can't do anything to obvious or deliberate or he'll never do it.
With all the craft projects to do, your christmas giving list should be taken care of

Micheal's is the best store to get those creative juices flowing. What about rubber stamping, photography, ceramic tile designs, flower arranging (I know, a bit foofoo, but the best designers are men)

Sounds like alot of fun at your house.


New Member
Daisy took my suggestion!

Legos - Legos - and more Legos. And not just building what is suggested, have him come up with his own ideas. There are also a lot of sites on the web to get ideas.


Active Member
Put the clay stuff inside a plastic bags so he can manipulate it but doesn't have to touch it.

There are some books called Kid's Concoctions 1 and 2 that are wonderful. My difficult child is begging me to do them all the time. In fact as I type they are doing 3-D Squeeze Chalk on the sidewalk. We had a blowout so next time we'll use heavier duty bags!

I have a tub we call the "hand stuff" that I keep in the kitchen and while it's there for SI and fine motor purposes for difficult child, all fo the kids use it. Right now it has Silly Putty, homemade Play Dough, plastic links for connecting, Zyrofoam and Gaksplat (Nickolodean) Wiki Sticks, a few hand held mazes, and beads for stringing. I add and subtract things as I come across them--usually I pull it out and put in on the kitchen table a few times a week.

I also have one of those plastic drawer doohickies in the kitchen filled with craft stuff so they can get it out anytime: craft sticks, string.

Travel games are smaller and therefore beneficial. We have Milton Bradley's "Perfection" and they like that.

Just this week I put together a box for the kids to mess around with simple electricity stuff from Radio Shack--wire, small bulbs and receptacles, small motor, buzzer, electrical tape, etc. Connecting wires in a simple circuit is a good motor skill challenge. Yesterday difficult child and I made a homemade flashlight from a toilet paper tube and a soda bottle.

Legos, Transformers and Bey Blades!!!

Play Dough Cookies (Kids LOVE This)--Thicken your favorite homemade sugar cookie recipe by adding about 1/2 cup flour or enough so it will manipulate without being sticky. Divide the dough into three bowls. Add food coloring and mix in well with beater or with your hands covered in plastic bags. Give each child a portion of each colored dough and let them create stuff by rolling, pressing, shaping, etc. Bake, taking out the smaller and thinner cookies first and allowing the larger and thicker to bake longer. We often do this project when we have a family of friends over since everyone likes it and all ages can participate.

Hama Beads

Paper Clip chains

String games: there's a book with Cat's Cradle, etc. but I can't remember the name. My kids have been interested in this lately.

Big tub of rice with things hidden in for kids to find--mine like Lite Brite lights, "jewels" and of course, coins.

Cooking, baking, kneading homemade bread and pizza dough.

Cracking mixed nuts with a nutcracker.

Do painting outside. Keep the hose nearby.

Sand Art

Waterball Yoyo


Pam R

New Member
My son had fine motor problems and the single thing that had the biggest impact on him was those small "fingerbikes" that were the thing 3-4 years ago. They are small (4-5" long) bicycles that can be completely disassembled and reassembled with different parts. They are hard to find now, but Walmart used carry them for about $3-4 each, just what we could afford.

He eventually branched out into the skateboards, motorcycles and has found street cars that he can take apart and reassemble.

Of course, like tiny Legos, you find the minute screws, bolts, seats, handgrips, etc. all over the place. :rolleyes:

But I was amazed at the rapid improvement of his fine motor skills. Prior to finding the fingerbikes, he seldom colored or drew and his writing was awful.

Now he draws and colors very well for his age, but his handwriting is still not so good. He draws a lot now, when before he only did if I asked him to make a birthday card or suchlike.

He was not much into arts and crafts, and while others have posted fascinating ideas, my son would not have taken to them.

Pam R.


Active Member
Wow! I gotta print this out and make a list. Thanks guys.

SRL - what are Hama Beads and Waterball Yoyo's?

Beyblades? For fine motor? Well, yeah, I guess I can see that. He loves those things. Spent his entire allowance last weekend on the stadium thingy. (He and his younger brother chipped in together to get it)

Hadn't thought about travel games. Hmmm....thinking again.

He did drag out the juggling set his Aunt & Uncle bought him last year for Christmas. (His uncle was teaching him how to juggle and he got really interested in it for awhile, then stopped) He actually read the book this time and tried some of the 'tricks.' Great for his hand/eye coordination!

I also got an idea for his balance too - thanks guys for getting my brain going. This is the other major area the Occupational Therapist (OT) is working on. He loves the obstacle course he has to do every week, as well as the scooter boards. So, I've been thinking about that stuff too. You know those caddies you can get to put under large plants so you can move them when you need to? They're about the same size as the scooter boards the Occupational Therapist (OT) uses. And the ones they have at Wal-Mart have drain slots all the way around, which would give him 'handles' to hold onto. If it can hold a big heavy plant, it should be able to hold him.

I now have the perfect excuse to go shopping.

Thanks for all the ideas guys. I think the kids and I will be heading to Wal-Mart & Michaels today!


Active Member
Hama beads are small plastic craft beads (they look like plastic tubes which are cut to very small size) which you use on plastic pegboards to create designs, patterns, etc. The beads are plastic and you iron them when finished so the beads hold together in the pattern. They have suggested patterns but difficult child always free styles. Hama is the original brand name but I've seen knock offs in the craft dept of Walmart, Hobby Lobby, etc. difficult child likes to make Star Wars creations, his friends, etc. It's one of those things he normally wouldn't ask for but when I put it out for all of the kids they all go to it.

Waterball yo-yos are rubbery yoyos filled with liquid. My kids like to squish them more than yoyo them and I consider anything that difficult child will use to work his hands beneficial. A caution: I wouldn't have them in the house if I had young children due to choking hazard. Check for them in with the water toys stuff at KMart--that's where I usually find them.

I almost forgot my kid's very favorite new activity of the year. Their PE teacher did a unit with Speed Stacking Cups and it became quite the craze. I ordered a set for home and am going to order a second of the mini cups because they are more challenging. Watch the films online to get an idea of how valuable this can be:

Aside from the travel games, I always keep a look out at garge sales and thrift shops for games that would be good. Operation, Labrynith, Connect Four are good. One of the problems that I run into is that a lot of what is helpful doesn't hold their attention long so I've needed a variety. Getting things second hand helps a lot.

Yes, Bey Blades are very good. It takes a great deal of fine motor skill to construct them in the first place. difficult child was very frustrated with the first two and had his interest not been so high I am certain he would have abandoned them but he kept at it and can manipulate the pieces very well. Just getting the darn things into the launcher is a challenge for his mother.

Legos have probably been the number one fine motor help around here. And believe me, they are everywhere.


New Member
Hex - while you're at Wal-mart check out the Bionicles in the Lego dept. My son LOVES these. They have all sizes of pieces, from very small to large. Each figure comes with complete instructions so 8-10 year olds can follow them easily.

You can see the figures at


Active Member
Cantstandit - ahh yes. Bionicles. They went through those last year. Both he and his brother loved them. Have the movie. Have lost every piece by now, or at least enough of them to have lost interest. :rolleyes: Even I struggled with the first one I bought them. Wasn't sure they would stay interested, but once we got through the first one, they had the hang of it and spent their allowance every week on a new one. Can't say I miss those itty bitty pieces. lol.


Roll With It
Some of the things we use (in addition to all of the excellent suggestion already here) are beadie buddies (little critters made out of pony beads and string or wire), macrame, card tricks, coin rolling across knuckles, and yes, gameboy.

Our kids only have computers and gameboy systems. The gameboys are great for hand-eye coordination, and games are at parents discretion only. The only way I ever developed hand-eye coordination was Ms. Pacman! LOL!

difficult child loves to make long braided ropes. He has several macrame books, but mostly makes braided ropes that "disappear" magicaly when they get long enough to tie someone up!

I have found that most little boys (all ages) like to do magic tricks.

There are great cartooning books by Bruse Blitz and also Scholastic has a wide selection of How to draw books.

I ahve found that the hama beads can be more solid if you iron both sides! Did them for years and they all came apart until we learned this.

Scissor like tweezers are great with small things to increase fine motor skills. Esp great with hama beads!

Now that difficult child has discovered girls he likes to make jewelry for them!! LOL! He swore this day would never come!

Hope these help! Good luck!



Wow, some great ideas here. Lots of stuff for me to do with- my kiddos!

My difficult child really enjoys doing tile mosiacs. You can put together everything yourself if you have some old tiles sitting around or buy some broken ones from Home Depot, etc... Or Michaels and other craft stores sell kits. It really isn't all that messy and he really enjoys it.



Active Member
Kat - difficult child does tile mosiacs with the Occupational Therapist (OT). He liked it, but I don't think it would be something I could get him to do at home. It's funny how there are some things he will do there and enjoy, but not do at home.

I've also got a couple of ideas to duplicate some of the obstacle course stuff he does there too. They have a balance beam that's really nothing more than a 5ft 2x4 set up on 2" blocks at either end. I can do that - Lord knows I have enough 2x4s around here. lol. I've also found a couple of websites where I can get the squishy rubber walking stone thingys they make him walk across. He thinks those are cool.


New Member
My difficult child liked to do those sewing cards with thread and a plastic needle. I'm not sure if they are available at a craft store anymore. You can remove the string and do them over and over again. My difficult child likes to try to flip a bottle cap into the air and try to make it land into a nearby coffee can. The picking up of the bottle cap is small motor and it helps his waist line too. My difficult child also likes to draw. He has a fantastic set of drawing books and lots of markers, colored pencils, crayons etc. Cutting with scissors with differen't types of blades. Wavy,zig zag etc.

Also paint by number or latch hook rug making although some boys may find it girlish.


Active Member
Hexamus, if I could make a suggestion it would be not to duplicate the obstacle course from Occupational Therapist (OT) exactly at home. Let that be a special activity for him at Occupational Therapist (OT) and make an obstacle course at home with variations so it's unique. The novelty will wear out at Occupational Therapist (OT) far sooner if you have the same thing at home.

Those itty bitty Bionicle pieces that make us crazy are ideal for fine motor work. We have a tub of Lego Technics pieces from various Bionicles and such and my difficult child likes to make up his own.


Active Member
SRL, He has a different obstacle course every week when he goes to Occupational Therapist (OT). Never ever the same thing twice. I'm thinking of ways to set one up here at the house for inside stuff. Something we can change around and add/subtract to make different. I'm also looking at a new swing set for outside stuff, something I can add on to little at a time. But for inside, on days he really can't go outside and play? I think having obstacle course stuff for inside would keep him interested for awhile. This is one thing I think his obsession for perfection will come in handy for. lol. He wants to master that balance beam so he can show off to the Occupational Therapist (OT). He hates that he can never make it across without falling. Personally, I think he has something of a crush on Ms. B's (his Occupational Therapist (OT)) student assistant. The girl is cute. She barely looks old enough to be out of high school, much less in school for Occupational Therapist (OT). :rolleyes:

We made a game out of the couch cushions the other day. He had to stand on one, then pick up the other and toss it in front of him to step out on to, reach back and pick up the first one, and on and on around the room without stepping on the wood floor. He had fun with it. Sad thing is, I don't think my couch cushions will ever see my couch again. lol. Better look for some big pillows too.

Oh! And something else the Occupational Therapist (OT) suggested. Playing cards. She said to teach him how to play poker!! The cards and chips help his fine motor, and it can also help teach him the subtlety of 'reading' people. Hmmm. Isn't that like using pool to teach geometry? Which I've done, by the way, and been given lots of sideways glances for - just walked right into a local pool hall, asked for a stool for him & the other two to stand on, and started with our lesson. It was the middle of the day, so it's not like there were a bunch of barflies hanging around or anything, but we did get some strange looks.

Anyone know where to download rules for poker? lol. I couldn't tell you the last time I played.


New Member
i agree - the one thing that helped our difficult child with motor skills was the hama beads - he made footballs, a Scooby Doo dog tag - faces - tons of stuff. he did make them for gifts last year - i bought a cheap bag of key ring "circles" and looped them through some of the finished products. then he had a gift he made to hand out at Christmas!

also, the small looms with loops of fabric to weave to make the pot holders we all made as kids. remember those? difficult child made those FOREVER - also worked in our favor because he LOVES to make patterns out of things.

i'm loving all these ideas, too!



Well-Known Member
If he were a girl, I'd suggest stitchery or knitting. When I was little, at Christmas I would get these cardboard things with designs on them and you would thread a thick lace through them like a dot to dot.

A lot of the older kids are knitting now, but it is difficult to learn to do without dropping stitches, and I never figured out how to pick them up!

I would stay away from video games. Even though they do develop motor skills, they are also very addictive to some of our difficult child's, that's not always a good thing.