Must-Haves for Kindergarten Fine Motor Practice


When students enter kindergarten, there is often a wide range of fine motor skills in the group. Some students can tie their shoelaces and handle scissors without problem, while others are gripping their writing utensils in a fist. With such a diverse group of students, working some fine motor activities into your day is important. Keep reading for some of my favorite must-haves to have on hand for kindergarten fine motor practice!

Must-haves for kindergarten fine motor practice

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The Importance of Fine Motor Practice in Kindergarten

With everything that needs to be covered in a school day, fine motor practice might be low on the priority list. However, there are several reasons why it should be part of your lesson plans:

  • Safety: First and foremost, students need to be safe at school. From shoelaces dragging on the ground to scissors being used precariously, deficits in fine motor skills can impact a student’s ability to safely navigate their school day.
  • Classroom Management: Your day goes much more smoothly when you don’t have to help the majority of your class remove marker lids and twist glue caps.
  • Academic Growth: When students don’t have to spend all of their effort and focus on the physical act of completing a task, they can focus on the academic skills being taught.
  • Behavior Management: Task avoidance is a common cause of defiant behavior in the classroom. Students will often try to avoid fine motor tasks if they are too challenging.

Must-Haves for Kindergarten Fine Motor Practice

If you want to take advantage of the benefits that come with fine motor practice, be sure to have these helpful tools on hand:

1. Tweezers

You can use regular tweezers, but the big plastic alligator tweezers are perfect for little hands! Tweezers are a fun way to get students to practice their pencil grip without the intimidation of holding a pencil. Just add tweezers to any task where students are moving small manipulatives from one spot to another. 

Play dough, pom poms, tweezers, and a counting task card

2. Pom Poms

Pom poms are one of my favorite small manipulatives to use for fine motor practice. They are easy to pick up with tweezers and clothespins for counting, patterning, and more. Students can practice pincer grasp, coordination, and in-hand manipulation as they use pom poms for different fine motor activities.

3. Stickers

Removing stickers from a sheet of stickers takes a lot of fine motor coordination. Both hands need to work together to remove the stickers from the sheet. The student needs to use a pincer grasp to peel the stickers and place them on the paper.

You can have students use stickers to outline objects or put stickers on a pre-dotted paper. Students can also use stickers for counting and patterning activities.

4. Dot Markers

Dot markers are always a hit in kindergarten, which makes them a great choice for fine motor practice throughout the day. Students can create dots in ten frames for mat practice or even practice the alphabet as they dot letters.

Adding dots to a winter themed task card

Just make sure that students are holding their dot markers like a pencil instead of squeezing them in their fists.

5. Clothespins

Clothespins are another great option for fine motor practice in kindergarten. Although they can be a little more difficult to use than tweezers, they stay closed on the object. This makes clothespins perfect for games like “Pass the Pom Pom” or even painting with a cotton ball.

Adding clothespins to a counting task card

You can also use clothespins to add some hand strengthening practice to your centers routine. Students can clip a clothespin to the correct answer on a task card.

6. Play Dough

As students squeeze, pinch, and roll play dough, they are practicing their fine motor skills. There are so many ways that you can incorporate play dough into your lesson plans in order to add a fine motor element.

Adding play dough to a task card

Students can use learning mats to build letters or shapes with play dough. They can also use play dough to create small manipulatives for counting practice. Just be sure to teach expectations for using this school supply to keep it from getting dried out!

7. Hole Punch

If you’re looking for a way to help students build hand strength, a hole punch is a great option. A lot of hand strength is required to use a hole punch, but there are also hole punches that don’t require quite as much force to use.

Punching holes in a winter themed task card

Whether you create cards specifically for hole punching activities or you just give students blank pieces of scratch paper, this is a fun way for students to practice their fine motor skills.

8. Push Pins

There are only certain classes that I could trust with push pins, but some classes can handle using this particular fine motor tool. Give students a shape or simple picture printed on a piece of paper along with a push pin. They can work on a carpet or some other soft surface as they push a hole in the paper, along the line.

A push pin with winter themed task cards

As they push the pin into the paper, they create a dotted version of the picture on the back side of the paper. Students are always so excited to see their work take shape on the other side!

9. Cotton Swabs

If you do any painting activities with your students, consider switching out the paint brushes with cotton swabs instead! Students can dip the cotton swab in paint and then add one dot at a time to their papers to fill in the picture. Dot painting is an engaging way to get to practice their pencil grip!

When to Practice Fine Motor Skills in Kindergarten

If you could use some ideas for when you can practice fine motor skills during your jam-packed school day, check out this video! I give you a closer look at the must-haves mentioned in this post, but I also share some ideas for fitting fine motor practice into your lesson plans.

Save These Fine Motor Practice Ideas

Be sure to save these ideas for fine motor practice in kindergarten! Just add the pin below to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest. You’ll be able to quickly find these ideas and resources when you’re planning fine motor activities for your students.

9 Must-Haves for Kindergarten Fine Motor Practice


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