SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

3 Summer Activities to Improve Fine Motor Skills

Here are 3 simple activities to help your child improve her fine motor skills. Fine motor skills develop muscles that allow her to draw, print, color, and successfully complete other physical activities. These games can be done indoors or outdoors.

For 3-5-year-olds: The Balloon Toss

You will need 2-3 round or oval balloons (inflated), with each approximately 6-8” in diameter. For 1 or more players.

  • Have your child toss one balloon in the air. The object of the game is to keep the balloon from touching the ground. He can use hands, head, elbows, knees, etc. to keep the balloon in the air. 
  • Say the alphabet, or count together to see how often he touches the balloon before it comes down.
  • When he has mastered one balloon, increase the difficulty by challenging him to keep two afloat. After the game is over, be sure to deflate and properly dispose of the balloons for safety reasons. 


For 6-7-year-olds: The Clothespin Challenge

You will need 6 pinch-type clothespins and an 8-9” paper or plastic plate for each of up to 6 players. For 1-6 players.

  • Put the plate on the ground, about 10 feet away from your child.
  • Give her 6 clothespins.
  • Call “ready, set, go,” and then have her run to the plate, pick it up, and attach each of her clothespins around the plate.
  • When all of her clothespins are attached she should run back to you with the plate. If she is the only player, time how long it took her to do the job. Then, see if she can beat her own time.
  • If there is more than one player, the first to complete the task wins.
  • To increase the difficulty, gradually increase the number of clothespins to a maximum of 10 or 12.


For 8-9-year-olds: The Lego Challenge

You will need a set of Legos and a timer. For 1 or more players.

  • Find a simple picture of a Lego design, either from the box or from one of your child’s favorite Lego designs.
  • Challenge your child to build the structure before the timer rings. 
  • Set timer to 15 minutes and start it. Time how long it takes your child to complete the design.
  • If there is more than one player, the first to complete the task wins
  • To increase the difficulty, decrease the time by 2-minute intervals.


Summer is a great time to hone fine motor skills by doing fun activities!

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