Top 20 Toys For Fine Motor Development In Preschoolers

As your child starts wanting to gain more independence it is important to start working on their fine motor development. There are so many things out on the market targeting fine motor skills and many are very expensive. Working in developmental pediatrics I love to see fine motor skills develop through play so complied my top 20 toys for fine motor development in preschoolers for you below! I hope this helps you weed through the overwhelming amount of options and gives you more time to play with your little one! 

Toddler playing with colorful blocks, fine motor development

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I think one of the things I love best about toys is that they are tools for helping us as parents engage with our little ones. There are so many screens around our daily lives, however kids thrive on human interactions. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) this interaction is essential for a child’s development. I love that this research study helps show the power of play with others!

These toys can be very simple and most are not battery operated toys. Although this list of of the top 20 toys for fine motor development in preschoolers was created with preschoolers in mind many of these items are perfect for toddlers or elementary aged kids as well. What you will find is that the way kids play with these toys will change as they get older. I love toys that can grow with my kids!

Why Are Fine Motor Skills Important?

Fine Motor skills will help your kids become independent with day to day tasks. This may include zipping their coat, buttoning their shirt or unscrewing the cap to their toothpaste. As they get older and their fine motor skills continue to develop you will see improvements in their school readiness skills such as handwriting, cutting and coloring. Simple things like playing with play-doh (helps develop hand strength) and doing puzzles (works on hand-eye coordination as well as cognitive skills) are seen as play but are so important for your child’s development!

1. Magnatiles

This is at the top of the list for a reason- it is the most loved toy in our house without a doubt. My boys have played so hard with these for 7 solid years and we have yet to have a piece break. A true testament to how well they are made.

I can’t say enough good things about these. My kids make zoos, race tracks, marble runs, daily it is something different. The pretend play with this toy is unlimited. We now have 3 bins of these because my 8 year old loves to build elaborate creations and needs a million tiles, they have been a repeat on Christmas and birthday lists for years. I can say that these have been one of the best investments when it comes to toys. A little mom tip- they sometimes are on sale on Groupon which helps save you a little money. 🙂

2. Sensory Bins

Sensory bins provide endless amounts of fun for kids. If you Google sensory bins you will get hundreds of ideas to help jumpstart creating a bin. The beautiful thing about sensory bins is that they are usually very easy to make and you are often able to reuse the materials for later.

This sensory bin with tools makes it simple, you to just add rice, pebbles, sand, beans or other tactile things and let your kids play! I love that you can gear the bin to your kid’s interests. Its a great way to engage kids in play while also working on fine motor skill development. If you aren’t sure where to start Happy Toddler Playtime has some awesome ideas for sensory bin themes!

3. Shape Sorter

I love the simple shape sorters for my toddlers with the core 5 shapes. These are often created for little hands which make them perfect for your toddler. Shape sorters help with hand-eye coordination as well as fine motor control. The different shapes also help with cognitive development!

If you have an older child (closer to 3 years old) this shape sorter is a great option as it is a bit more difficult. It is awesome for color recognition and with the extra challenge it helps refine those motor skills. 

4. Play-Doh

This activity spans across all ages. The open-ended play is awesome, I love seeing what my kids create when we get this out. There are so many fun ways to play with Play-Doh and they have created some fun accessories if you are looking for ways to build upon your child’s play. This is such a great activity to build hand muscles which are so important for building school readiness skills such as handwriting!

5. Wooden Blocks

These are a classic. We have these Melissa & Doug blocks and they have held up beautifully for the last 8 years. The bright colors always attract my kids to play with them. I love the different activities they come up with when they take out the blocks, from building castles to creating a race track for their cars.

Stacking blocks takes a lot of motor control and can be a bit of a challenge for young kids. These wooden blocks helps them build this motor control through play! If you are looking for something to expand your wooden block collection Tegu has created some of the coolest magnetic wooden block options!

6. Sprinkle Containers

Stick with me on this one as it is a little less conventional but such a great activity! My oldest was gifted two of these sprinkle containers when he was one. This toy is essentially short piper cleaners in an empty spice container. Can you say budget friendly?! 🙂 Honestly this activity got us through church services, long airplane rides and dinners out, it is simple, easy to bring along when you go out and kids LOVE IT!

The amount of hand eye coordination this takes is pretty substantial, however if you pick a spice container with a large opening and small opening you can vary the difficulty based off of the child’s age. I promise you if you create this it will get plenty of use. See a tutorial on how to make one at Hands As We Grow.

7. Stacking Cups

I started introducing these to my boys when they were around 6 months old. They are the perfect bath time toy to allow kids to practice dumping and pouring (and great for water play in pools or water tables in the summer months). These stacking cups not only allow practice with dumping and pouring skills but also stacking and nesting skills (awesome for eye-hand coordination). There are so many ways to play with these, I would consider them a staple in a toy bin for a toddler and young preschooler.  Bonus, they are small enough to easily fit in a diaper bag for on-the-go fun.

8. Chunky Color Crayons

This is a simple toy but awesome for young children. Often skinny crayons are too hard to grasp for young children. These chunky crayons are perfect for little hands and helps them develop that hand strength needed for writing and coloring and also works on developing proper pencil grip.

These crayons are made from bees wax and food grade coloring so if your little one decides the crayon looks like a snack you know they aren’t putting harsh chemicals in their mouth (however I do not recommend eating these crayons :)).

9. Lego Duplo Blocks

Duplos are a classic toy that withstands rough play and are great so for many age categories. I try to be very budget conscious, especially when it comes to toys, but this is one I don’t feel bad about spending a little money on. The amount of imaginative play that these foster is awesome. There are so many ways to vary play with these and they are perfect for toddler years but also for older kids as well.

I love that while my kids play with these they are refining their hand-eye coordination and problem solving skills as they figure out what pieces fit together and how to create their masterpiece. These Lego challenge cards are a perfect addition to your duplo/lego collection!

10. My First Toolbox Book

My 3 year old is obsessed with having us read this book with him. What is great about this book is that it is a board book (so sturdy for little ones). It works on basic concepts of fine motor skills such as hand-eye coordination (hammering), hand strength and coordination (screw driver) and large motor actions (sawing). This book would make a wonderful gift for a toddler or preschooler! There are a lot of tool kit toys that you could pair with this book to expand their play and your child’s development!

11. Bead Maze

I’m sure you have seen this at a doctor’s office, and now you know that they aren’t there to just appease your squirmy child, but they also help with development of fine motor skills. This toy specifically helps with finger control and is great for young kids as there really isn’t any concern for a choking hazard. Melissa & Doug makes a really fun bead maze for older kids and also has one for younger toddlers with suction cups, perfect for high chair play!

12. Bristle Lock Tiles

Bristle toys are great for fine motor play. It helps with hand strength as a child pushes the pieces together or pulls them apart. It also provides some interesting sensory input for those kids who are a little more sensory seeking. As a child’s hand strength improves you will notice your child will have greater control when playing with these. I love the open ended play this toy provides.

13. Construction Vehicle Building

My son was gifted these construction tractors for his birthday when he was 2 and he is still obsessed with them. They were created perfectly for little learners, the screws are large to help provide confidence with fine motor skills, and there are just enough spots where the child has to assemble the tractor to not overwhelm them. This type of toy is perfect for a group of kids to work on together, its a great way to encourage problem-solving skills in a group and build upon their social skills. These are perfect for those kids who like to take things apart or figure out how things are put together.

14. Squigz

I work with hundreds of children a year and I can’t tell you how much these are played with. Kids are enamored with them, and I am too! These Squigz are so fun to play with, I mean their name is even fun to say! 🙂 Not only do they work on hand strength and fine motor skills, but they also allow you to sneak in some teaching opportunities where you can add in color recognition and turn taking. 

15. Lacing Beads

Lacing beads are great for simple hand-eye coordination and building fine motor skills. It is as simple as finding large beads around your house and some string. As your child gets older and needs more of a challenge you can add in smaller beads to refine their pincer grasp (when they pick things up with their thumb and pointer finger). Because of the small parts I would recommend staying close to your little one to make sure they stick to lacing and not eating the beads 🙂

16. Puzzles

Puzzles are so much fun and great for kids of all ages. You can start with very simple puzzles for your toddler, I would stick with ones with 3-5 pieces and the knobs on top are awesome for little hands. As your child gets a little older you can move to smaller pieces to create more of a challenge. Puzzles can be frustrating for kids at times so this is an activity I strongly recommend is done side-by-side with a parent. This will allow you to guide your child and help them be successful with completing the puzzle. 

17. Melissa & Doug Locks and Latches Board

Melissa & Doug make so many great educational toys for kids. It is a go to brand for me when looking for items to build upon our play room or for gifts for loved ones. The locks and latches board is a great activity for kids who love to take toys apart or figure out how things work. I would say it is perfect for kids between the ages of 2-5 years old. Once your child unlatches the locks they will be greeted with a surprise picture underneath which my kids always loved!

18. Carrot Harvest Wooden Game

This was a fellow mom’s recommendation and I immediately fell in love. It is a Montessori style toy, all wood, and awesome for not only fine motor skills but cognitive development. It helps with dexterity, hand-eye coordination and size discrimination. And its just cute 🙂

19. Rainbow Counting Bears

These rainbow bears and matching sorting cups are a great addition to a playroom. There are so many variations of play with this toy, the sky’s the limit. The tongs are such a good way to build hand strength as well as more complex hand eye coordination.

Your preschooler will love the challenge of sorting the bears into the cups, or playing the dice game where they have to grab the right color bear with the tongs and place the bear in the like-colored cup (a pretty complex fine motor skill for little ones!). You could even create math games with these. I would say these are best suited for kids ages 3-5 years old. 

20. Animal Pop Up Toy

Saved one of my go-to toys for toddlers and preschoolers for last 🙂 (consider it a gift for making it to the end of this long post…I really like talking about toys :)). This is my go to toy for my kids when they are around the age of 18 months and they love it! It is a fairly simple concept but the fine motor skills that it works on is awesome. The child has to learn how to push, twist and pull which are all fairly complex skills for younger children. I often start with hand-over-hand help with my little one and with enough repetition they start mastering these skills over time. 

Other Fun Fine Motor Activities & Crafts For Kids

A child’s development doesn’t thrive on fancy, expensive toys or electronics, but instead, on human interaction and these toys are tools to facilitate that interaction. So let’s get playing!

child playing with wooden toys

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