Early Childhood Intervention: Module One – Typical and Atypical Development

Category — 1.3 Motor Development: Fine Motor

Fine Motor Skills

Motor Development: Fine Motor Skills1

Fine motor skills involve the small muscles of the body, usually located in the hands. Eye/hand coordination (see full Glossary) is essential in developing fine motor skills. Fine motor development involves skills that we will need for most things we do through our life.

Motor development also includes the oral/motor area that surrounds the child’s mouth. In order for children to be able to swallow and eat properly, or to pronounce words the right way, they need to have good control over their oral/motor muscles. A child whose oral/motor muscles are either too tight (hypertonic) or too flabby (hypotonic), may require help in learning to talk, and assistance in feeding and swallowing.

Fine motor development includes the following:

  • reaching for objects
  • playing with hands at midline (see full Glossary)
  • manipulating objects with both hands
  • banging two toys together
  • transferring or passing objects from one hand to the other
  • picking up an object
  • using the thumb and index fingers (pincer grasp) to pick small objects
  • removing or taking away objects from containers
  • putting objects into containers
  • holding large markers with the fist
  • turning pages of books
  • scribbling
  • opening doors
  • solving simple puzzles
  • stacking blocks and cups
  • holding pencils using the tripod position
  • building three dimensional structures with blocks
  • making simple forms with play dough or clay
  • nesting cups (see full Glossary) (Fig. 1)
  • using scissors
  • drawing simple forms
  • tracing letters and numbers
  • buttoning buttons
  • fastening snaps
  • stringing beads
  • writing letters and numbers

Figure 1: Nesting cups


When Maria she was 3 years old she started using her left hand often. The family was concerned. However the pediatrician assured them that being left-handed was the same as being right-handed and they should allow her to use the hand she prefers. By age 5 Maria paints and eats with her left hand and doing well in school. If her parents had forced her to use her right hand, Maria would have probably had a hard time. Luckily, her parents did research, listened to experts and gave her what she needed to grow and thrive. 

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December 25, 2010   No Comments