Hey Mommies! A lot of fine motor development happens between the ages of 2-5. This is an important time for fine motor development too as it leads to a functional grasp on writing utensils and good endurance for writing activities when children start school.
During the holidays or for birthdays, we often try to think of really great and exciting toys for our kiddos, but we may sometimes forget the basics.
Here are 10 Fine Motor Gift Ideas Under $5 for Kids 2-5, that I’m sure will be a hit and will also help promote fine motor development in your child! All items can be found at your local Walmart too!
1- Markers, Crayons, or Colored Pencils– You may have some of these items at home already, but a fresh set of markers or new box of crayons is always exciting. Opening and closing markers works on hand strength and bilateral coordination (using 2 hands together). Crayons and colored pencils work on writing pressure and building endurance for writing.
2- Scissors– Between the ages of 2-5 is when you should start developing scissor skills with your child. Fiskars makes a really great pair of preschool assisted opening scissors that are great for little ones. My son started using them around 18-20 months and is able to cut across paper on his own at the age of 2 1/2. Of course children need supervision with cutting, but kids typically love getting to use scissors and can be entertained for quite some time. Make cutting more exciting by letting them snip things other than paper- straws, wrapping paper, playdough, etc.
3- Tongs– Tongs are a great way to build hand strength and grasp. Have a child pick up small items with tongs and release them into a cup or onto a tray. The tongs below are one option that should be found at your local Walmart but I prefer something wooden or firmer plastic that you can often find at a cooking/kitchen store or online. Just be sure they are small tongs that will fit in a child’s hand.
4- Stickers– Most kids love stickers and they are great for fine motor coordination. They require a child to use a refined pincer grasp (using their index finger and thumb) to peal a sticker off the sheet and problem solving coordination to stick the sticker down on paper with the sticky side down. You can also have children draw circles or squares around stickers or draw a line between two stickers for a visual motor challenge.
5- Pipe Cleaner and Beads– Stringing beads on pipe cleaner is a great fine motor challenge. It requires fine motor control and bilateral coordination. You can use different sized beads to make the task easier or harder. (Bigger beads are easier, smaller beads are harder). Kids will have fun making bracelets, necklaces, or their own creations!
6- Playdough– Playdough helps build hand strength which is necessary for fine motor control and coordination. Check out 11 Simple Playdough Activities to Build Fine Motor for some activity ideas!
7- Fuzzy Ball Pom Poms– These can be used for a variety of activities. You can sort them into colors, pick them up with tongs and transport them, place them in ice cube trays and take out with fingers or tongs, or create a “put in” container by cutting a small hole in the lid of a container (empty puffs container, coffee container, etc) and having your child push the pom poms through with their index finger.
8- Clothespins– Clothespins requires a lot of coordination and finger strength to operate. Have kids place clothespins around the edge of an empty container or on a piece of cardboard. You can get creative and color coordinate clothespins with the cardboard. Then mix up and work on matching the clothespins to the correct colored cardboard. OR, use clothespins to pin up a sheet and make a fort! 🙂
9- Finger Paint– This challenges fine motor and is a tactile sensory activity. Encourage your child to work on painting with just the index finger to challenge isolating a single finger. You can also use a paint brush with finger paint to work on utensil grasp skills. Practice drawing single lines and shapes in the paint for a visual motor challenge.
10- Shaving Cream– This provides the same as finger paint but is a less messy option. Shaving cream is really easy to clean up! With shaving cream, you can also pretend it’s snow and drive cars through it or hide characters in it. You can also pretend it’s a bath for cars or toys and have kids wash and rinse. All of this requires the use of the hands and will promote hand strength and fine motor development.
As I said, these are very basic, but toys don’t always have to be fancy! It’s all in how you use the items to make them fun.
From personal experience, my 2 1/2 year old son has been quite entertained by all the items on this list! But you also have to make sure to spend some time engaging and interacting with your child and these items too. That’s when you’ll see the most progress with fine motor development!
By: Emily Bettis, MOT/L
Emily Bettis, MOT/L is a pediatric occupational therapist and mother. She has been working with children birth-5 since 2008 and has been a mother since 2013. Emily is the founder and author HeyMommies.com