Fine motor skills involve the use of the smaller muscle of the hands, commonly in activities like using pencils, scissors, construction with lego, doing up buttons and opening lunch boxes. Efficient fine motor skills require a number of independent skills to work together to appropriately manipulate the object or perform the task. Keep reading to find out how fine motor skills emerge (and at approximately what age), and the games you could play to encourage skill development.

Building blocks for fine motor skills

Developing the necessary postural stability and visual motor skills that underpin fine motor skills of the hands

Simple fine motor skills

Developing the necessary gross motor skills that are the precursors to fine motor skills of the hands, and improving hand-eye coordination

Advanced fine motor skills

Successfully completing everyday tasks such as buttoning clothes and using tools with ease


  • Starting to consistently show a preference for one hand for fine motor tasks (dominance) and then progressing to consistently using the dominant hand

  • Spread soft butter or spread on toast with a knife

  • Cut a straight line well

  • Draw a cross

  • Draw a square

  • Draw a recognisable picture

  • Start to colour in lines of a picture

  • Manage most fastenings on clothing (laces may still be tricky)

  • Open packages by themselves

  • Grip tightly with either hand

  • Use a knife and fork well

  • Hold a jar and twist off the lid

  • Cut out shapes from paper

  • Learn to print letters and numbers.


See what activities can help to support this core skill.

See Activities