Cheap 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!
I 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.
These 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.
These 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.
Playdough is a cheap (with the myriad of incredible DIY recipes on the web, like this no-cook play dough) and the ultimate material for fine motor development. Think cutting, pinching, rolling, molding, poking, etc.
We loved this playdough 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.
This 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.
I 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:
Paint chip samples
A piece of paper
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).
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.
Thank you so much for reading!
For more fine motor inspiration, see the other great bloggers participating below:
Cut-Punch-Paste Grocery Store Play from LalyMom
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
Follow my DIY Montessori board on Pinterest for more inspiration!