DIY Montessori Fine Motor Activities | Low to No Cost

DIY Fine Motor Montessori ActivitiesCheap Montessori fine motor activities that are DIY and simple to set up are something I am asked about frequently. Many of these can be adapted to be appropriate for many age groups.

I hope you find some inspiration for creating engaging activities for your kids that help develop fine motor skills. Disclosure: there are affiliate links in this post for your convenience. We make a small commission if you make purchase (at no difference in cost to you)

fine motor diyI find toddler activities the easiest to create. Tots are amused by repetitive playful trays and activities like in my How to Keep a Toddler Busy post. Give a toddler some match sticks and a parmesan shaker and they will be occupied for a significant amount of time for their age. See my popular post on Montessori Activities for Toddlers for more ideas.

The significance of fine motor development for toddlers is obvious: most tots have moved on from whole hand (palm) grasp and use a four finger grasp to manipulate smaller objects. The aim of the game is to develop that further and work towards the all important pincer grasp that you hear about which is the key to writing (proper pencil grip) and a huge range of practical life activities.

DIY Fine Motor Posting ActivityThese fine motor development activities are considered Montessori inspired because they are the pre-cursor for independence, literacy, and numeracy. If you can work in sensory exploration, even better.

Tracing Stencils MontessoriThese stencils from Learning Resources are our low-cost alternative to Montessori metal insets. While I know they are restricted in their uses, I think that they still promote the necessary movements of the hand and wrist for writing to help prepare children for handwriting. Similar DIY alternatives like those listed in the picture can still be of great help.

DIY Play dough Montessori activities for fine motor skillsPlay dough is a cheap (with the myriad of incredible DIY recipes on the web, like this no-cook play dough from The Imagination Tree) and the ultimate material for fine motor development. Think cutting, pinching, rolling, molding, poking, etc.

We loved this play dough colour matching activity with pegs from our peg boards. There are many other ways to do something similar if you don’t have peg mosaic boards – coloured match sticks, popsicle sticks, blocks, buttons, beads, straws, etc.

DIY Threading InvitationThis DIY threading invitation was a huge hit with both Cameron (almost 4 years old) and Lucy (19 months). Given that it was made with everyday household items like plasticine (which I prefer to dough purely because it doesn’t dry out!) with dry spaghetti, pasta, twigs, beads and small rings, it is so cheap and simple.

DIY Montessori colour gradient matching activity via Racheous - Lovable LearningI have been asked about the DIY colour gradient matching activity in my header a couple of times recently. I made this some time ago. All you need to make your own is:

Wooden pegs
Wood glue
Paint chip samples
A piece of paper


How to:
1. Cut rectangles of the same size of each individual colour. I measured mine out with a ruler and drew onto the back on the paint chips.
2. Glue them to paper (or card if not laminating) in sequence so that the left and right edges can be pegged.
3. Optional: Laminate control colour card for durability and round the edges.
4. Cut out small rectangles the same size as the end of the pegs with the remaining card swatches. Attach to the pegs with wood glue. Leave to dry overnight.
5. Set the activity up in a tray with the pegs in a bowl and demonstrate matching the colours to the child (age dependent on ability of child, when you notice your child pointing out different shades of the same colour and they’re dexterity has developed to pegging pegs).

diy montessori colour gradient activity

Notes: Remember to use descriptive language like ‘lighter’, ‘darker’, ‘shade’, ‘pale’ and ‘order’. Also, try not to interrupt or correct the child. As difficult as it can be, unless they ask for clarification, allow them to learn and correct themselves. Any discoveries that they make will be much more memorable if they make them on their own.linkys

Thank you so much for reading. I’d love to know if you found this helpful – leave me a comment below :)

Happy Fine Motor Friday!

For more fine motor inspiration, see the other great bloggers participating below:

Cut-Punch-Paste Grocery Store Play from LalyMomFine Motor Fridays Kids Activities
Colour Sorting with Water Beads from Craftulate
Soda Bottle Turkey from Stir the Wonder
Bottle Cap Soup from School Time Snippets
Fine Motor Skills Activity Tray from Little Bins for Little Hands
Easy Bird Toy from P is for Preschooler

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  1. These are great! You can find such expensive things when looking in stores, that it’s a good reminder that you don’t need to pay a lot to help your kids learn these skills.

  2. Hi Rachel,
    Thanks for posting this. It still surprises me what toddlers will transfer. I once found Quentin picking up some grains of brown rice from the carpet where he had spilled a pouring activity. He picked up each one and returned it to it’s container. I love that the things he loves to work with can be made my me inexpensivly.

    • The concentration and skills developed with the simplest tasks is so awesome to observe isn’t it Beth? I’ve had similar experiences with watching Lucy repetitively complete a task over and over. It doesn’t have to be complicated, or expensive. Thank you for commenting :)

  3. That colour gradient matching activity looks beautiful!

  4. Wow what a lovely collection of activities! My little guy JUST discovered a stash of craft sticks in a drawer the other day and loved them. I am sure I have a container like that right now too, I’ll have to start with that one and go from there! My preschooler would like these too! Thanks for sharing!

  5. All these ideas are great! I love that they are DIY and/or cheap ; ). My kiddos love the simple activities I put together for them. I really like the peg/ playdough idea– never thought to put those together!

    • Thank you Kristina. It would be great to use plasticine (fimo, or similar) instead of play dough in that activity because it’s a little harder to manipulate but doesn’t dry out like dough does so you could leave it on the shelf! Thanks for commenting :)

  6. What a wonderful resource, Rachel! A nice reminder that fine motor activities don’t have to be elaborate or expensive to be engaging and beneficial!

  7. Love all these ideas…very simple and lots of fun.

  8. Hi Rachel! I would like to nominate your blog for the Sunshine Award! My post nominating you will be up on the blog tomorrow. We would love if you stopped by. Looking forward to getting to know you some more :)

  9. I love these ideas! Thank you for sharing at our Pinning for Play link party!

  10. I love how colourful, beautiful and easy these activities are to put together!! Great ideas:)

  11. What a fantastic resource of fun and low cost ideas you have put together for everyone :-) Thank you for linking up and sharing this week on the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop!

  12. Hi
    What a great side

    I found your picture about earth and the planets.
    Where can I find the side to cut out.

  13. Awesome post! I love how simple the materials are, but all are presented in such a visually appealing way. I know my kids at work and at home will love these! Thanks!

  14. I love your collection of fine motor activities. My favorite one is the formula tin with the Popsicle sticks. That looks like so much fun! Thank you for sharing on Artsy Play Wednesday.

  15. Such great ideas and developing fine motor skills can benefit in so many ways/areas. I have a similar idea to the colour matching. Thank you for sharing them all.

  16. I really like how you used the play dough (flattened in the wooden tray) and added the pegs- I think I’ll be trying this soon! Great ideas here :)

  17. Hi Racheous. So many fun and colorful FM activities. I adore the pegs and play dough activity – very clever! Can’t wait to incorporate tracing stencils too. Thank you for sharing on our page. Pinned! :)

  18. Stopping by from TGIF- Such great ideas its amazing the things you can use that you already have around the house to help kids develop and learn! I love all of these ideas i will have to try some of these out with my kids, thank you so much for sharing- Now following you on Facebook, Pinterest and Google +
    Sheena @

  19. These activities are absolutely fabulous! Wow.

    Thank you so much for linking up with us at the homeschool link up. I love that we now have a Montessori voice. We can all learn so much from you. I hope to see you next week.

  20. really lovely ideas, I love the playdough and pins one

  21. I love your colour matching pegs. And I love your tip about not interrupting the child – my kids grandparents really struggle with waiting and letting children answer questions or letting kids struggle a bit. They ALWAYS jump in. xx

    • Thank you Danya. It’s a common thing to do. It’s so easy for adults to feel that it would be easier if they ‘helped’ but so often it’s more useful to observe and guide :) I appreciate you taking the time to comment and read my ideas!

  22. Thanks for this post!
    As a TA for a 4 year old with autism I was desperate for fine motor skills activities. As the school has little funding for resources I have found this very tricky. Your ideas are both cheap and fun! Thanks! :)

  23. Love all these ideas! So fun and simple! I pinned this and will be featuring you tomorrow on Makeovers & Motherhood’s Welcome Party Wednesday! Thanks for linking up! I can’t wait to use some of these ideas!

  24. sarah young says:

    Love your fb page and your blog, so many adaptable activities, thank for sharing x

  25. Wonderful post. I am always creating activities for my boys using things we have on hand, so I love all of these ideas.

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