11 Best Fine Motor Toys for Preschoolers

by | Dec 10, 2021 | Home, Noggins, Play, School

Developing motor skills is an important step toward your preschooler’s growing independence. As your child enters the preschool years, they’ll begin to have greater control over their hands and fingers—this is known as fine motor control. These skills allow them to do things like writing and coloring, brushing their teeth, and getting dressed.

While your child will begin to naturally develop their fine motor skills without help, they’ll still need lots of practice before they’re ready to start kindergarten. And since kids learn better when they’re having fun, toys are a great way to get that extra practice they need.

Blocks, puzzles, lacing toys, and sorting toys are all activities that promote fine motor development in kids. Many fine motor toys are also simple (no batteries, lights, or sounds), open-ended, and encourage imaginative play as well, which can be an added bonus for some parents.

Now that you’re convinced, take a look at our round-up of some of the best fine motor toys for preschoolers.

Fine Motor Toys for Preschoolers

1. Learning Resources Helping Hands Tool Set

The Learning Resources Helping Hands Tool Set includes four fun tools that promote fine motor skill development in preschoolers. Your toddler or preschooler will have a blast scooping, pouring, and sorting as they strengthen their pincer grasp, scissors skills, eye-hand coordination, and all of the muscles in their hands.

These fun tools can be used as occupational therapy toys along with water, sand, pom poms, or sensory bins. Of course, this kind of open-ended play requires a little imagination and creativity, which means play time may require some parental involvement and planning.

Keep in mind: These tools are inexpensive and made from plastic, so they may not last forever. But overall, they’re an affordable way to improve your preschooler’s fine motor skills while having fun.

2. Learning Resources Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog

It can be hard to find fine motor toys for toddlers since they often include small pieces that can be a choking hazard. But Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog is safe for children 18 months old and up, so you can get your toddler working on their pincer grasp and dexterity early. It also reinforces color and number recognition and can teach your child how to sort items and make patterns.

This awesome fine motor toy was also designed with parents in mind. It’s small and doesn’t take up too much space, and the plastic quills can be stored away inside the hedgehog for easy clean-up. For a plastic toy, it’s also well-made and durable.

Keep in mind: Like a lot of other fine motor toys, this one encourages open-ended play, which is great for younger kids (but not always for older kids). Some older children may not be entertained by this simple toy, but it just depends on your child. If you have a toddler or young preschooler, though, this is a great therapeutic toy they should enjoy.

3. CENOVE Flower Building Toy Set

With tons of beautifully designed, colorful pieces, your preschooler will love building their own garden with the CENOVE Flower Building Toy Set. This toy not only encourages fine motor skills, but it’s also great for creativity, color identification, matching, and visual-motor skills. Your child can experiment with different flower arrangements or pretend they have their own flower shop—there are plenty of opportunities to use their imagination with this toy set.

Parents will also be happy to know that this toy set comes with a carrying case for easy storage. The pieces are also made from a sturdy plastic that’s easy to clean as well. And since the pieces are so easy to place, it’s basically a frustration-free toy for your preschooler.

Keep in mind: This play set comes with a lot of pieces—great for sharing, but not so much for clean-up. If you get this toy for your preschooler, you’ll definitely want to start encouraging them to clean up after themselves. Fortunately, the pieces fit nicely into their storage case (though, we admit, it could be a tiny bit bigger).

4. KLT Lacing Toys

Threading and lacing can be a tough skill for preschoolers to master. But these KLT Lacing Toys can be a great way to introduce your child to this fine motor skill. They’ll work on their pincer grasp and dexterity as they thread the caterpillar and attached string through a wooden apple and watermelon. These adorable wooden toys make threading much easier for your preschooler’s little hands as they learn.

These wooden lacing toys also come with a carrying bag, so they’re easy to store away or take on the go. And since the caterpillar and string are attached to the fruits, you don’t have to worry about losing any pieces.

Keep in mind: This toy is best for ages 3 and up, since the long string could be a potential risk to your child. Plus, threading and lacing is a difficult skill for young toddlers, but good for preschoolers to practice. Just stay nearby in case your child needs any help, and you’ll get plenty of use out of this awesome occupational therapy toy.

5. Mega Bloks First Builders Big Building Bag

Building toys like Mega Bloks First Builders are a great classic fine motor toy for preschoolers and toddlers. These large pieces in this set are designed for toddlers 12 months and up. It includes 80 pieces, and comes with a convenient storage bag for easy clean-up, too.

When your toddler plays with these blocks, they’ll be strengthening the muscles in their hands, dexterity, and eye-hand coordination. This set also comes with a variety of different shapes, sizes, and colors, which will help with visual-motor skills (and keeping them entertained). Plus, they’re nice and sturdy, which means they’ll hold up to years of use as your child grows.

Keep in mind: Mega Bloks are a little different from some other brands, like LEGO, because they don’t always snap together tightly. This can be frustrating for some kids who want to make elaborate creations. On the other hand, though, the loose fit might actually make these easier for your toddler to play with—it just depends on your child.

6. PicassoTiles Bristle Blocks

PicassoTiles Bristle Blocks are another classic building toy that are great for a wide range of ages. Bristle blocks will really allow your child to use their imagination while also strengthening their hand muscles as they stick the pieces together. These ones also come with a booklet of building ideas for kids who enjoy following directions.

Parents will appreciate that these blocks are sturdy and easy to use and clean. They stick together well, too, which will limit frustration for your preschooler. As an added bonus, these are a little softer than LEGO blocks—if you’ve ever stepped on a LEGO, you’ll understand why this is a plus.

Keep in mind: This style of blocks can be a little difficult for toddlers, so you may want to save them for preschool. They’re also a little pricey, but this brand is more affordable than some. Overall, you should get years of use out of these bristle blocks, which will make it worth the investment.

7. Soyee Magnetic Blocks

Soyee Magnetic Blocks are a fun way to learn about magnets and get creative while mastering fine motor control. Along with working on their dexterity and pincer grasp, your preschooler will build visual-motor skills as they match shapes and colors. This is yet another great open-ended toy that encourages creativity.

This set in particular is more affordable than other magnetic block brands. But they’re still high quality and made with strong magnets, so your preschooler’s creations won’t fall apart easily.

Keep in mind: Since this toy uses magnets, it’s recommended for ages 3 and up—so don’t buy these for your toddler. (They would likely just become frustrated anyway.) Additionally, this starter set of 52 pieces seems surprisingly small, so you may want to invest in a larger set if you want a ton of pieces.

8. Coogam Beehive Matching Game

Fine motor activities for preschoolers often involve using tongs or tweezers to pick up items. The Coogam Beehive Matching Game will give your preschooler plenty of practice with this as they strengthen their pincer grasp. The game involves using large red tweezers to pick up the colorful wooden bees and place them into corresponding spots in the hive.

This wooden toy is well-made and sturdy, so it should hold up to frequent use by your preschooler. Along with the matching game, your child can also use the bees and hive to play pretend.

Keep in mind: This game contains small pieces—the bees are a choking hazard for babies and toddlers. The recommended age for this toy is 3 and up.

9. LEGO DUPLO Number Train

While LEGO DUPLO sets like this Number Train might seem like an obvious choice, we still wanted to include it in the list. This set in particular is designed for ages 18 months and up and will also help your preschooler or toddler with number recognition. The train makes it a fun set for pretend play as well.

LEGO DUPLO blocks are great for little hands since they’re larger than the standard ones. They also stick together really well compared to other brands, which gives your preschooler an extra challenge that will help to strengthen the muscles in their hands.

Keep in mind: Since LEGO blocks stick together so well, younger kids might have a hard time putting together and taking them apart. If your little one is easily frustrated, that can be a problem. On the bright side, though, these will definitely build strength in their hands.

10. Melissa & Doug Latches Board

The Melissa & Doug Latches Board will really get your preschool some practice making precise movements and strengthening their pincer grasp. This wooden board toy has real working locks and latches that they’ll have to unlock to open each door—great for working on those practical life skills that require fine motor control. It’s also a great toy for working on counting, reading, and color and number recognition.

Melissa & Doug products are often well-made and sturdy, and this latches board is no exception. The board and latches are durable, and should hold up to regular use by your preschooler.

Keep in mind: This board is best for 3-year-olds and up, since the latches can be especially difficult for toddlers. You also wouldn’t want your little one accidentally pinching themselves on one of the latches—ouch! The design paper also might get a bit worn over time, but this is purely cosmetic and shouldn’t affect function.

11. Melissa & Doug Mickey Mouse Basic Skills Board

Another awesome Melissa & Doug product is the Mickey Mouse Basic Skills Board. In preschool, your little one will be working on gaining independence as they learn to dress themselves and tie their shoes. This puzzle is a fun way to get some practice zipping, buckling, and buttoning.

One neat thing about this basic skills board is that it’s also a puzzle, and you can take each piece off if you want to work on an individual skill.

Keep in mind: Since the pieces come off the board, some younger children may find it more challenging than a board where the zippers and buttons are fixed in place. This is also geared toward children ages 3 and up and would likely be too challenging for a toddler. Overall, this is a nice option for a preschooler who is still learning these basic skills.

FAQ

What toys help with developing fine motor skills?

The best toys for fine motor skills are ones that require using the muscles of the hand to manipulate objects. Anything that requires precise movements or using tools can be great for developing these muscles as well. Blocks, puzzles, building sets, and lacing toys are all examples of fine motor toys.

What fine motor skills should my preschooler be developing?

Children develop at different rates, but children in preschool generally work on the following fine motor skills:

  • Grasping a pencil or crayon for drawing and writing
  • Cutting paper with safety scissors (with supervision)
  • Gluing things onto paper
  • Building with blocks
  • Working zippers and buttons
  • Completing puzzles with large pieces
  • Developing hand dominance or preference

How can I help my 3- or 4-year-old with fine motor skills?

Spend time playing games, doing puzzles, and working on arts and crafts with your preschooler. Even simple fine motor activities like building with blocks or playing with play dough can help improve your child’s fine motor control. Additionally, worksheets with mazes or tracing activities can be especially helpful for dexterity. It helps to show your child how to hold their pencil or scissors properly (and don’t forget to supervise!) so they can learn by example.

Lydia Mockensturm
Lydia Mockensturm

“Hi! My name is Lydia and I’m a freelance writer who specializes in parenting and education. I have a bachelor’s degree in English and worked as a teacher and tutor before deciding to stay home full-time with my two young children. As a mom, I’m passionate about early childhood education and am always looking for fun and practical ways to teach my kids at home.”