Fine motor skills are so commonly used to perform everyday tasks that a lot of us – myself included – take them for granted! In this article, we’ve brought together our favorite toys for fine motor skills development.
Fine motor skills are that set of skills we need for things that require control and precision such as holding a pen for writing, a knife for cutting or maneuvering a computer mouse. When such skills take longer to develop, there can be an impact on the quality of life.
For kids, there are many toys out there that will help them train those skills as they have fun. Here are our picks for the best toys to develop fine motor skills:
|Lego Classic Medium Creative Brick Box
- Best Toys to Improve Fine Motor Skills 2021
- Magnetic Tiles
- Carpenter Play Set
- Under the Nile Dress Up Doll
- Green Toys Kid’s Play Wagon
- EaverEarth Treehouse Set
- Robud Kids Kitchen Playset
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Toys to Improve Fine Motor Skills 2021
1. Our Top Pick — Lego Classic Medium Creative Brick Box
Lego Classic Medium Creative Brick Box
Connect bricks freely to make different shapes and buildings
Lego® is the ultimate toy for kids’ fine motor skills development. Connecting bricks to make shapes and buildings is an excellent exercise for little hands! We recommend this ‘generic’ set where the focus is on building freely rather than following instructions that will lead to a particular model.
This creative kit has 484 pieces to have fun with and train their skills! It also has a handy box, so that pieces of Lego® can be easily stored!
Classic Lego® is recommended for kids aged four years old and more. The small pieces can be a choking hazard for younger ones.
2. Best Fine Motor Toy for Toddlers — Lego® Duplo
A brick building toy specially designed for little ones who like to put everything in their mouth
Lego® Duplo is fantastic for toddlers as the bigger size bricks tend to be safe for kids who like to put everything in their mouth! As far as developing fine motor skills, they are also an excellent option for little ones.
As a starter kit for little ones, I recommend this First Set with Storage Box rather than a specific building model with instructions. After all, fine motor skills development is all about exercising their hands and fingers – as they freely put pieces together – rather than exercising their ability to follow instructions.
For toddlers aged eighteen months or older.
3. Best for Babies – Shape Sorter
A fun toy that encourages babies to train up their fine motor skills
It is an iconic first toy that many small children around the globe love. It is a fun toy that provides endless entertainment and gets children to move those tiny little hands and fingers – by doing so, they will unintentionally but effectively strengthen their little muscles and train up their fine motor skills.
Although most shape sorters are recommended to be used for babies aged 12 months or older, I think this toy should still be enjoyed by children as soon as they can get a grip and hold onto objects. All my three kids started with shape sorter between six to eight months old.
4. Garden Activity Cube
Garden Activity Cube
Includes shapes, puzzles and more fiddly things for little hands to play
A great tool for children to practice gross motor skills. It includes lots of shapes and colors as well as numbers, puzzles, and other fun toys. This toy has a larger than normal dimension (15x15x12inches) and is great for siblings or friends to play with.
The recommended age for this toy is 18 months or older. They may begin to recognize some elements of the garden, such as flowers, bees and birds, at this age.
5. Magnetic Tiles
Great toy for 3D building adventures and fine motor skills training.
Magnetic tiles were not around when I was a kid! What a shame! Lucky my kids can enjoy this very clever concept.
These ‘magic’ tiles stay together with a little bit of help from magnetic forces as kids build all sorts of things. Fine motor skills are still required to put them into a structure and to pull them apart. It is a nice and gentle exercise for little ones that will no doubt contribute to their development. And so much fun! Our favorite brands include Picasso Tiles and Magna Tiles.
Three years old and more. It is important to remember that magnetic pieces, if swallowed, can be a significant risk. Both tiles are very safe, risks can arise if the tiles break and magnetic pieces become exposed.
For more information (including safety details), check our comparison guide, Picasso Tiles vs Magna Tiles.
6. Carpenter Play Set
Carpenter Play Set
A great introduction to tools and a dream toy with endless possibilities for little hands and imagination.
The EverEarth Carpenter Playset is a dream toy both for fine motor skills development and just pure joy. The Carpenter playset consists of a workbench, tools, bolts, blocks and more. Kids can ‘screw’ and ‘unscrew’ their bolts and blocks as they train their little muscles.
The workbench is also very versatile and can be used to do many other things than just playing with its tools and accessories.
The playset is entirely made from beechwood. It’s extremely sturdy, and it will last many years.
Recommended for kids 3 years old and more.
7. Under the Nile Dress up Doll
Under the Nile Dress Up Doll
Fine motor skills are fundamental for dressing up, what better way to practice it than a dress up doll?
Any toy guide would be incomplete without dolls, and these dress up dolls from Under the Nile are a great choice for fine motor skills development. In fact, putting clothes on and off is one of the most common movements humans perform and use their fine motor skills to do so. Starting with a doll is a perfect way to train this type of ability.
Fine motor skills aside, research shows that dolls also teach kids empathy and self-care. This doll is 100% cotton and it comes with an extra set of clothes. It can also be machine washed! Yay!
Although I could not find any age recommendations for Jill Dress Up dolls, I would feel comfortable to give this to any baby six months or up. Of course, they will have to be a little older to start dressing/undressing the doll.
8. Green Toys Kids’ Play Wagon
Green Toys Kid’s Play Wagon
The loading and unloading of small items provide great training for their little hands and fingers
Another classic toy is the wagon. While the wagon per se is probably a toy more recommended for gross motor skills development – think about big muscles like legs’ and their walking functions – the loading and unloading of small items provide great training for their little hands and fingers. It will also provide endless hours of entertainment! This can be used by children to carry sand, rocks and other toys outdoors or inside their home.
Green Toys Play Wagon made of plastic, actually from recycled milk jugs. This makes it super simple to move from outside to indoor with just a garden hose. This toy can also be washed in the dishwasher!
Please note, this is a small size wagon!
The recommended age for this toy is 12 months or older.
9. EverEarth Treehouse Set
EaverEarth Treehouse Set
A fantastic take on the classic dollhouse with lots of little things for little fingers.
The multi-level treehouse, plus accessories, is just so cute! It is one of the most popular toys for encouraging children to play role-playing games. Children can create stories about the adventures of their characters and imagine them in this treehouse. But there’s more… The treehouse comes with lots of little things for those developing little hands!
Accessories include mini-furniture, mini human-looking figurines that go back and forth between levels as kids exercise their fine motor skills.
This toy is made mostly of solid, certified beechwood and will last many years. It can also easily pass from one sibling to another and even to friends. All paints are non-toxic, water-based.
Recommend for children aged 3 and older.
10. Robud Kids Kitchen Playset
Robud Kids Kitchen Playset
Provides endless games possibilities such as preparing and serving food as they exercise their fine motor skills.
Robud’s kitchen is another great set, featuring a stove, oven and microwave, a sink and lots of little accessories. With a pretend kitchen, kids can play many different role-playing games such as a restaurant or tea party as they use their hands – and train their fine motor skills – to perform their roles.
Play-dough can be added to the fun to quickly transform the adventure into food art.
This product is best suited for children aged three and older.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are fine motor skills used for?
Fine motor skills are a set of skills we perform with our hands to hold, control and manipulate objects. We use these skills when we use cutlery, scissors, press buttons, write, paint, put our clothes and shoes on, etc…
What is the difference between fine and gross motor skills?
Gross motor skills are all about our ‘big’ muscles such as the ones on our legs, arms, neck. These are the skills we need to walk, crawl, jump, go up and down steps, hold our heads up, etc. Fine motor skills are about our ‘small muscles’ in our hands – the ones that will help us
What should I do if my kid has poor motor skills?
The best thing is to have your child assessed by an occupational therapist. While kids develop in different ways and at different timing, if you have any concerns, discuss it with your family doctor and request a referral to an occupational therapist.
Last update on 2021-11-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API