How can I help my child develop their fine motor skills over the holiday season?

If you are looking for therapy ideas that build skills this time of year, then you will love these Christmas and holiday ideas for kids. These are ideas driven by fine motor skill development but also promote skills like hand strength, bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, precision of grasp, motor planning, direction following, and creativity.

What are fine motor skills?

Fine motor skills involve the coordination of small muscles that control the wrists, hands and fingers to produce refined and controlled movements. These allow children to perform important tasks, such as:

  • Self-care functions – tying shoelaces, doling up sandals, zips, buttons, belt
  • School essentials – pencil skills for scribbling, colouring, drawing and writing, and scissors skills
  • Play – construction skills such as Lego, Duplo, puzzles, train tracks, and threading and lacing

Fine motor skills allow us to grasp and manipulate objects with our hands and fingers. These skills are supported by bigger muscle groups (gross motor) that provide stability so that you are able to use smaller muscles for more refined movement.

Five holiday activities for developing fine motor skills

1. Christmas Tree paper craft

Ripping and scrunching crepe/coloured paper is an excellent activity to develop the small muscles of the hands and fingers. Glueing the paper onto a Christmas tree template is also good for bilateral coordination.

2. Baking

Whether it be baking gingerbread people or decorating a gingerbread house, baking is a fantastic activity to develop a wide range of fine motor skills. Plus, it’s a yummy reward at the end!

3. Scissor activities

Cutting with scissors is an excellent way to strengthen your child’s hands and fingers, and get them working together. Have your children help make your Christmas cards this year by getting them to cut out Christamas trees from coloured paper and glueing them onto a card.

4. Handwriting

Help your children practise their handwriting these holidays by allowing them to help write your Christmas cards, a Dear Santa letter or even your shopping list! Children are most likely to want to participate in handwriting when they know it is for something important.

5. House work

Yes! House work is a great fine motor activity that works so many fine motor skills. Pegs are an excellent tool for strengthening the muscles in our fingers and hands, have them help hang clothes on the washing line and peg the clothes. Similar to baking, have your children help out in the kitchen when appropriate e.g. stirring, cutting, scooping, rinsing, wiping are all fine motor activities.