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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.

Ideas To Increase Fine Motor Skills in Young Students

My post last week outlined the connection between gross and fine motor skills and activities to improve gross motor success. This week, my focus is on fine motor skills, and simple activities to help your kindergarten or 1st grade child improve these more subtle skills.

Fine motor skills use the smaller muscle groups such as hands, fingers, toes, and lips. These skills are critical in dressing, handwriting, cutting, board games, and expressive communication.

Here are five ways to help your child improve their fine motor skills.

  • Zip and button. Find different sized zippers around your house, and have her practice opening and closing them. Some examples could be found on coats or jackets, pillows, boots, etc.  Button up buttons. Vary button sizes with different shirts, jackets, etc. to practice the “push and pull” of buttons.
  • Practice how to tie. Use ribbon, string, shoelaces, etc from objects around your home. First tie knots, then tie bows. Teach him how to tie his shoes!
  • Build together with blocks or Legos. While improving fine motor muscles, building with blocks also helps young children see patterns, learn about balance, and see how things fit together. It also helps refine eye-hand coordination.
  • Hole punch designs. Help your child draw a simple picture on white paper, such as a large balloon, star, circle, etc. Then let her punch holes with a handheld single hole punch around the design. While strengthening hand muscles, this also creates a clear border for coloring inside the design.
  • Sing together! In the car, at home, or any other appropriate place, sing favorite songs together. Some great songs I’ve used in my class are “The Clean-up Song,” from Laurie Berkner’s Buzz, Buzz CD and “Kindness” from Steve Roslonek’s Little Superman CD.


Increasing fine motor dexterity in young children helps build their confidence, and being a confident young student leads to school success.

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