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!
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.
Hubby made a posting toy similar to this for Lucy which she really enjoys.
These shape 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) 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. There are lovely threading toys on Etsy too.
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).
(Someone on Etsy has made similar here if you don’t want to make it yourself)
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 for reading!
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Mira Zayed says
Thank you for your ideas😍
pegboards fine motor skills says
Fantastic post. Thank you for sharing!
doretta lovell says
Love the ideas, will be doing lots with the little ones
Love these activities–I really like the metal shaker (and are those colored toothpicks?) activity near the top. Is that just a normal spice shaker? The holes look pretty big. Thanks! :)
Jennifer Fischer says
Wonderful post. I am always creating activities for my boys using things we have on hand, so I love all of these ideas.
sarah young says
Love your fb page and your blog, so many adaptable activities, thank for sharing x
Makeovers Motherhood says
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!
Thank you so much!
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! :)
You’re so welcome Ashley! I’m so grateful that blogging can help me connect with awesome people like yourself. Thank you for commenting and visiting :)
Danya Banya says
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!
The Monko says
really lovely ideas, I love the playdough and pins one
Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment :) I love knowing what interests my readers!
Lisa Nelson says
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.
Thank you so much Lisa! I love Montessori and the homeschool link up! I truly appreciate your comments!
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 @ http://www.thekeeperofcheerios.blogspot.com/
Thank you, you’re so lovely. I’ll do the same :)
Heather @ Crayon Box Chronicles says
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! :)
Thank you for pinning, reading and commenting! I adore your blog!
Clarissa Hooper says
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 :)
Thank you Clarissa, it was a well received activity :D I appreciate you taking the time to comment!
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.
You’re so welcome. Thank you for reading!
Theresa--Capri + 3 says
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.
Thank you Theresa, my daughter loved that as an early toddler! Thank you for hosting Artsy Play and for popping over!
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!
Thank you Claire. I think the simpler the better in many instances. I appreciate you popping by and commenting!
What a great side
I found your picture about earth and the planets.
Where can I find the side to cut out.
Thank you :) In the post, under the activity, there is a link to the site with the free printable :)
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!
Thank you for hosting and for popping by. I really appreciate your comment :D
I love how colourful, beautiful and easy these activities are to put together!! Great ideas:)
Thank you Cherine, they are colourful and we have really enjoyed them.
I love these ideas! Thank you for sharing at our Pinning for Play link party!
You’re so welcome. Thanks for popping over Lauren!
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 :)
Thank you so much Amie. I saw your post and loved getting to know you some more! Thank you for the award :D
Tara from The Magnolia Barn says
Love all these ideas…very simple and lots of fun.
Thanks so much Tara! :)
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!
Thank you so much Stephanie :) That was my aim and I’m so glad to see you here. Thanks for taking the time to comment!
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 :)
Laura @ Lalymom says
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!
Thank you Laura, I’m so glad I could inspire some easy to create fine motor fun for your littlies! I appreciate you commenting :)
Georgina @ Craftulate says
That colour gradient matching activity looks beautiful!
Thank you Georgina :) It’s stood up to lots of use too!
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 :)
Emma @ P is for Preschooler says
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.
Thank you Emma :) I so agree. I appreciate your comment.