Fine Motor Skills

July 6, 2020
Fine Motor Skills

Written by our Occupational Therapist Taly Rink

Often, we take fine-motor-skills for granted, especially living in a world full of technology, where these skills can sometimes appear to be irrelevant. However, let us not forget that fine-motor-skills are needed even for typing.

Fine-Motor-Skills are needed everywhere from play, to self-care skills, using cutlery, turning pages, using scissors, drawing, and handwriting. 

Handwriting itself is a complex process as it involves the ability to form letters with consistent letter size, proportion and spacing so that others can read words and sentences. However, there are countless fine-motor-skills that are prerequisites before a child even picks up a pencil or pen. 

4 of the key necessary skills are: 

Bilateral coordination – the use of two hands together shows the both sides of the brain are communicating and sharing information during a functional task.  


  • Threading 
  • Lacing 
  • Cutting with scissors 

Separation of the sides of the hand – the precision side (thumb, index, middle finger) and the power side of the hand (ring and small finger) have different functions but need to work together during a task. This also supports the tripod grasp which is needed for holding a pencil. 


  • Squeezing sponges (hold a sponge in the palm with the ring and small finger, and hold another sponge with the thumb, index, and middle fingers) 
  • Spray bottles to water some plants or the fence/wall 
  • Place cotton wool or a small bead under the ring/little finger and encourage the child to pick up items with the thumb/middle/index fingers. 

Pincer Grip – this means using the pad of the thumb and finger to pick up an object to form an ‘o’ or an ‘ok’ sign. Having an open thumb web space allows for the ability to manipulate and grasp small items. An open webspace supports a functional pencil grasp, dexterity, precision, and the ability to hold items within the hand.  


  • Small pegboards 
  • Decorate biscuits with small cake decorations 
  • Making a collage picture using string or beads 
  • Posting activities – hold coins within the hand and hold the container in the other hand. 

Wrist extension to support the hand when using a pencil – this allows for the fingers to move when writing. When the wrist is not in the correct position, it is common for children to complain about pain during extended writing tasks.   


  • weight-bearing on the hands including activities such as crawling, crab-walking, yoga poses.  
  • Drawing and colouring a vertical surface (chalkboard, wall, easel). 
  • Refrigerator magnets 
  • ‘Paint’ an outside wall with a paintbrush filled with water