Fine Motor Skills Activities for 5-6 Year Olds

Fine motor skills activities for 5-6 year olds make practicing hand muscles easier. Here are several activities that will help your child!

Fine Motor Skills Activities for 5-6 Year Olds

If you’re like most parents, how your child holds a pencil may not be top of mind. But once she enters kindergarten, you suddenly notice how well the other kids hold theirs. You also realize that she can’t write her name well or cut with scissors (and forget about pulling a zipper).

Practicing hand dexterity is important at this age and stage, when kids learn how to write and be more independent.

Rest assured, your child can develop her fine motor skills, no matter how active or indifferent she may be right now. Let’s take a look at fun ways to keep her interested and engaged with using her hands:

Hole punching

Most kids don’t get to use hole punchers these days (I don’t even think most adults do, either!). The novelty of a hole-punching activity can catch your child’s attention enough to be curious and give it a try.

Get a hole puncher with a rubber grip and a standard quarter-inch circle. Then, use paper that’s thick enough for her to hold, but not too thick that she has a difficult time punching through it.

Next, cut the paper into quarters so she isn’t holding a huge letter-sized paper, but one that’s a quarter of that size. And finally, encourage her to “open” the hole puncher to release the bits of circles she cut.

You can also save the circles for another day when she can practice sprinkling and gluing them onto a larger piece of paper like a collage.

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Clothespins allow your child to practice pinching them open and close. Keep it fun by having him make a long line of clothespins by pinning one to the other. Or he can use one clothespin to clip cotton balls from one bowl to another. Lastly, he can also clip the clothespins all around a thick piece of cardboard.

Play dough

Play dough is one of the best open-ended toys since your child can use her imagination to create just about anything. It’s also a great way to practice fine motor skills, as it encourages a variety of ways to strengthen her hands.

But sometimes plopping a cup of play dough in front of her isn’t enough to keep her interested. Instead, guide her through simple activities, then let her imagination take over. You can…

  • Give a child-friendly knife to “cut” the play dough into smaller pieces
  • Turn one play dough into smaller balls
  • Roll the play dough into “snakes”
  • Mix different-colored play dough to form new colors


Many kids are excited to use scissors, especially if they weren’t allowed to use them before now. Start with a good pair of child-friendly scissors—not only are they safer, but they’re also built for their smaller hands.

And like hole punching, use smaller pieces of card stock or construction paper to make for easier holding and cutting. You can also re-purpose the smaller pieces he had cut into making a new collage.


Experiment with different-sized paintbrushes as well as a variety of things to paint on.

Stick to washable paint that comes off easily, and use finger paint paper that can hold up to the textures and weight. Show her how to paint simple dots and lines. And encourage brush painting (instead of finger painting) so she can practice holding a brush with her thumb and forefinger.


Have your child practice peeling off and applying stickers. To get him especially interested, buy stickers with characters or themes he loves. For instance, if he can’t get enough of trucks, get sticker sheets of trucks.

If needed, peel a corner of a sticker first, then allow him to peel the rest on his own.

Building blocks and tiles

I’m a fan of building toys, since they’re open-ended and can be made into just about anything. To start, give your child large Lego blocks to practice building and getting used to locking and unlocking the pieces together.

Then, as she gets better playing with those, offer the standard Lego pieces, small enough to truly hone in on her fine motor skills.


Using chopsticks models the right way to hold a pencil.

As you did with clothespins, have your child pick things up with the chopsticks. Stick to light, easy-to-carry items like cotton balls, toy figurines, or even small socks. If regular chopsticks are too difficult, start with child-friendly chopstick helpers.

Don’t have chopsticks on hand? Tongs can work, too. Practice with small tongs, and use them to transfer small items from one bowl to another.


Once your child is more dexterous with his hands, practice more complex fine motor activities like beading. You can use simple items like threading shoelace or yarn through dried pasta or cut up straws, or get toys specifically for beading.


Offer lacing activities not to show your child how to tie her shoelaces but to practice looping a lace up and down a sequence of holes.

I’m a fan of lacing toys. Even if my boys didn’t lace them completely around the edges, they were still able to practice lacing the cards and concentrating on the activity for a long time!

Paper clips

Grab a handful of paper clips and encourage your child to attach them to sheets of paper. Similarly, have her organize paper clips by color into an ice cube tray.

You can use both types of paper clips—the kind that slips over paper, or the binder ones to clasp onto a thicker stack.

Pipe cleaners

Create fun shapes with pipe cleaners, from simple circles and squares to creating the letters of his name. Have him poke the ends of each pipe cleaner through the holes of a colander. Or stick to simple tie twists to close bags of food, like bread and snacks.


Not only do puzzles exercise your child’s mind, they also allow her to pick tiny pieces up from a surface and place them carefully in place. Don’t worry if she doesn’t finish a puzzle in a day—leave it in place to finish the next day.

Glue small pieces

Create a collage by gluing small pieces of paper or other found objects onto a sturdy surface, like a thick poster or canvas. Your child can either squeeze glue onto the tiny pieces or dip the pieces into a bowl of glue. Have him attach it to the poster paper to create his own unique art.

Writing supplies

Have plenty of writing materials around the house, from crayons to colored pencils to washable markers. Make it more about creating art as opposed to writing your child’s name or learning the alphabet.

Children's Books about Writing

Crumple papers

Have extra junk mail? Ask your child to help you crumple pieces of paper to toss into the recycle bin. This can help exercise her hand muscles.

Board games

Many board games lend themselves to helping your child develop fine motor skills. He might have to pick up a peg to move across the board or a coin to drop into a slot. Perhaps he’ll use play dough to sculpt as part of the game or distribute playing cards to others.

When the game is done, ask him to help you put the tiny pieces back into their bags or containers.


Go through your child’s clothes like pants and jackets and have her zip them up. This exercise can help her learn not only the important skill of zipping but to practice her fine motor skills.

Rubber bands

Make a game of placing rubber bands on particular items. For instance, your child can put rubber bands around his stuffed animals, or he can help you close a bag of snacks. He can also stretch several rubber bands around a small ball.

Sort small items

Enlist your child’s help with sorting and organizing small items. Does she have a piggy bank or a jar of loose change? Sort the coins by type while you place them in coin wrappers. You could even use the coins to buy a special treat!

Perhaps you have different-colored beads that she can sort into ice cube trays or loose buttons you’d like to place in a storage tray or envelope. Maybe you’d like to sort paper clips by color or place extra seeds from frayed envelopes into sturdier glass jars.

Toothpick structure

Do you have a bag of leftover marshmallows from making s’mores? Create a structure using toothpicks! Encourage your child to create whatever pops into his mind, or make it a challenge and give him a task to complete (like creating a pyramid or a square).

Bubble wrap

Put all those shipping materials you get in the mail to use! Have your child pop bubble wrap, both large and small. You can cut larger materials into more manageable sizes, or simply have her pop each one down a row.

Self-care tasks

Some of the best ways to encourage fine motor skills are through daily tasks that you can start allowing your child to do on his own.

You may have been pressed to do these tasks because you do them better and quicker. But by letting him handle some of these tasks, you can save time in the long run, encourage him to be more independent, and of course, develop his fine motor skills. For instance, he can:

  • Pull the zippers up and down jackets, pants, or backpacks
  • Squeeze the toothpaste onto a toothbrush
  • Fasten snap buttons or regular ones on a shirt
  • Use rubber bands to tie hair


Help your child exercise the small muscles in his hand through squeezing sponges. Have him soak a sponge in one bowl of water, then squeeze the water out into a second bowl. Or have a “car wash” where he can wash small toy cars in a bowl of water using sponges and toothbrushes.

Tips to develop fine motor skills

How can you help your child with fine motor skills? It certainly isn’t through rigorous “practice” or pressure. Instead, follow these pointers:

  • Keep the activities fun and engaging. If he shows no interest, try again another day, or try another activity.
  • Keep the activities short. I recommend a few minutes a day, and unless he’s interested, no more than one activity per day. Don’t cram 10 activities in one day, or even in one week.
  • Don’t pressure your child. Pressure and anxiety can make him see these activities in a negative light. Instead, include them as a fun part of your day.
  • Practice with everyday tasks. Snap buttons on a shirt or pull small weeds from a garden.


For many parents, realizing that their kids could improve their fine motor skills can send them panicking.

Rest assured, you can help him develop hand dexterity, especially with the activities I shared above. With enough practice and interest, he can hold a pencil, cut with scissors, and yes, even pull up a zipper.

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