Fine Motor Skills for Preschoolers- More than Just Writing
Educational,  Pre-K Learning at Home

Fine Motor Skills for Preschoolers- More than Just Writing

Preschool- that time before the true intense school learning begins for most kids. This time should be mostly about learning through play. Kids will be discovering some of the expectations that will eventually come with being in school. One of those expectations that we are all familiar with is writing. Fine Motor Skills for Preschoolers are more than just writing.

Fine Motor Skills for Preschoolers- More than Just Writing

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What are Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills according to Wikipedia in “the coordination of small muscles, in movement- usually involving the synchronization of hands and fingers- with the eyes.” If you think about it, all those small muscles in our hands and fingers are used for way more than writing! Eating, tying shoes, brushing teeth, cutting with scissors, puzzles, zipping coats, typing on a keyboard… this list could go on and on. Everyone has these small muscles but they need to be used and honed to make them work at full potential. You use your hands to do MANY things. Practicing with those small muscles is just as important as exercising the big muscles in our bodies.

Hand Muscle Graphic. By Wilfredor - Own work. Image renamed from Image:Wrist and hand deeper palmar dissection-en.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0

Some experts think that it is good for kids to let the pencil grip develop naturally as their muscles develop. Here is a break down of Writing Skills and what to expect at different ages. I am going to help you out in those article with loads of ways to practice those fine motor skills that don’t include any writing Then I’ll give you a few of my favorite tips for when you want to, or your child’s school encourages you to get them started with the actual writing.

Ways to Build Fine Motor Skills Without Writing

Some of these specific activities I always mention in my busy box posts (puzzles, and play dough). But there are many ways- only limited by your imagination. So today I want to get you thinking about how to work those muscles with these great ideas. Many of these you can DIY with toys and supplies you already have at home. Check out my Pinterest Board Pre Writing Activities for those ideas!


The pinching motion can be practiced using fingers only, tweezers, tongs, or clothespins. Things that can be pinched when practicing- puzzle pieces, pom poms, stickers, beads, buttons, small toys, rocks, bottle caps, paper clips… you get the idea right??


Threading, stringing, lacing, wrapping, and weaving string. There are so many ways to DIY these, don’t forget to check my Pinterest Board for Ideas!


Play Dough, Air Dry Clay, Sculpty Clay, Kinetic Sand, and yes even slime. Anything you can knead, mold, squeeze, squish, and shape with your fingers.


Building and stacking blocks. Lego brick creations. This category goes along with the pinching since the kiddos will be using the pinch action most when playing with blocks.

Life Skills

Zipping, buttoning, snapping, tying, using a fork, cutting with scissors, etc. You can practice these with your kiddo as you go or get some specially made practice tools. Don’t forget when practicing with scissors to encourage them to keep the thumb up!

Hole Punching

Use an old-fashioned circle hole punch or get fun with the special shape hole punch tools.

There really are thousands of Ideas to build those fine motor muscles. I have a board on Pinterest just for Pre-writing ideas and fine motor building. Please feel free to go check out my board and create one of your own!

Starting to Write- How do I teach holding the pencil?

Again, it is suggested to truly not push writing on kids before the age of 5. You can expose them to the concept, show them how, encourage them to practice with the tools but don’t make it a “need to master skill.”

The grip used to hold a pencil is called the” dynamic tripod grasp”. The name comes from the fact that we use three fingers to hold a pencil. Some call it the “crabby pincer grip”. Since the thumb and the pointer finger hold the pencil in a pinch type grip. Lucky for me I have a righty and a lefty kid so I can show you examples of both ways!

Dynamic Tripod Grasp- Left Handed
Dynamic Tripod Grasp- Right Handed

Here is an excellent little Pencil Grip Song I discovered when doing research on this! It helps kids remember how to hold their fingers when preparing to write.

One of the ways kids who are learning to write hold the pencil is with a full fist. They don’t or can’t tuck the pinky and ring fingers back. Using a pom pom, small crayon stub, or paper clip- get those to fingers to hold one of those objects against the palm while the other fingers hold the pencil.

Promoting the Dynamic Tripod Grasp. Using a crayon bit between the last two fingers (ring finger and pinky finger) and the palm.
Promoting the Dynamic Tripod Grasp. Using a cotton ball or pom pom between the last two fingers (ring finger and pinky finger) and the palm.

There are many tools out there designed to help kids hold the pencil correctly. Here are some of my favorites pictured below. You can click the photos to go get them on Amazon.

In all of my Busy Box Blogs, I have different ideas for practicing Fine Motor Skills with your preschoolers. Below are some links to 3 of my Busy Box Posts.

Carnival Busy Box for Preschoolers

Beach Busy Box for Preschoolers

Car Theme Busy Box for Preschoolers

Here is a Free Line Tracing Page. It’s available in my Busy Box Printable Library. Subscribe to get access to this and 20 + other printables for preschool learning!

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