Fine Motor Skills (Age 3-4)

Are Your Child's Fine Motor Skills Age Appropriate?

By 3 years of age does your child:

Build a tower of 6 - 8 medium to small blocks?

After watching you line up three blocks and place a forth block on top, does your child do the same thing?

String 2 - 4 medium size beads?

Twist the lid off a small jar or turn knobs?

Hold a pencil or marker in their fingers (not fist)?

Usually use the same hand to hold a spoon or pencil?

Draw shapes after watching you draw? For example - a straight horizontal line, a straight vertical line, a circle.

Snip into paper with child size scissors?

Undress himself/herself, except for fasteners (buttons, zippers, etc.)?

By four years of age does your child:

Hold a crayon with his/her thumb and first 2 or 3 fingers the majority of the time with the same hand?

Draw a person with 3 or more body parts?

Draw shapes from a picture? For example, a straight horizontal line, a straight vertical line, a circle.

Draw a cross after watching you draw one?

Stack 8 - 10 small blocks?

Build a bridge with 3 blocks and a wall with 4 blocks after watching you build them?

Complete a simple 3 - 8 piece puzzle?

Cut a paper in half on a more or less straight line, using child size scissors?

Follow 3 different directions using the words under, between, and middle, without being given help by pointing?

Dress and undress himself/herself with minimal assistance including buttons and zippers?

Ideas to Help Your Child with Fine Motor Activities

3 Years of Age

Three year olds are learning to be independent and to do things for themselves:

  • Dress, undress
  • Eat
  • Use the toilet
  • Make simple choices

More about using their hands:

  • Build block towers
  • Draw lines and scribble
  • Cut paper with safe scissors
  • Do easy puzzles

Parents can help

Toys for messy play:

  • Sand with pails, shovels, containers, and spoons
  • Shallow wading pool
  • Bubbles to blow

Arts and crafts:

  • Crayons
  • Finger paints and play dough
  • Glue chalk

Toys for quiet play:

  • Puzzles
  • Blocks and large beads
  • Nesting and stacking toys
  • Little cars
  • Animal and human figures
  • Boxes and paper bags to sort things into and carry them around in

Toys for pretending:

  • Old clothes for dress-up
  • Small tools
  • Brooms
  • Toy dishes
  • Dolls
  • Stuffed animals


  • Picture books
  • Wordbooks

4 Years of Age

Four year olds are learning to do many things for themselves:

  • Wash their faces
  • Put on boots
  • Get a drink
  • Climb in a car

To use their imaginations:

  • Invent imaginary friends
  • Make up stories

Parents can help

Let your children help you:

  • Doing small chores
  • At the grocery store

Things for make-believe play:

  • Magnifying glass (for detective)
  • Capes (for super heroes)
  • Cardboard boxes (for doll houses)
  • Dress-up clothes
  • Hand puppets make from mittens

Toys for quiet play:

  • Construction toys
  • Building sets
  • Puzzles
  • Easy games
  • Magnetic numbers and letters
  • Small cars, trucks and figures
  • Wind up toys

Music toys:

  • Drums, xylophone, tambourine
  • Pots and pans

Arts and crafts:

  • Clay, play dough
  • Finger paints
  • Watercolours
  • Safe scissors
  • Glue crayons and markers
  • Blackboard and chalk

George Jeffrey Children's Centre • 200 Brock Street East Thunder Bay, ON • 807-623-4381