6 Useful motor skill developmental tips for your lil ones!

March 11, 2015

My last few posts have been about developmental milestones regarding speech and motor development. Now that you have those resources, what to do with them? I mean, besides glance at them once and never look back. Here are a few fun and easy ways to help build those motor skills in young children. As always, I like to keep things simple yet action packed for all these kids under 5.

Here are my useful tips!


For toddlers

1.  Kids this age love dumping and filling things back up. Follow your child’s lead here and create easy and fun things to put in + pour out. Get an empty/old water or plastic milk container – first you put in cheerios or other small food items (like puffs or cheddar bunnies). Then show your little one how to shake them out or pull them out of the containers. Next up is dropping Cheerios or other small edible items back into the container. This will work on using two hands together (bilateral coordination) as well as early fine motor skills (using the muscles of the hands and fingers to reach + pull those Cheerios out).

 2Jumping with two feet. Get your young one up and moving. Make up a song about jumping, then pause, hold their hands and jump together. This silly little activity focuses not only on gross motor skills but also the anticipation of actions and the emerging ability to wait. So get ready to work on those quads and jump up.

For preschoolers

3. Hiding small animals, figures or marbles inside balls of play-doh. Of course, keep a close eye when any child has tiny items nearby. But this is often lots of fun – simply hiding and finding all kinds of items in play-doh balls or squishing them underneath. Great for fine motor skills like pinching, pulling and rolling with their fingers.

4Using a magic wand and pretending to turn into different animals/trees/flowers. Find anything to be a magic wand (the more absurd the better). Then take turns using the magic wand to command changes into a variety of animals/objects requiring different body movements (What kind of tree will you be? Oh I’m going to eat some bananas off that tree!)

For school age kids

5. Kids approaching 5 are likely drawing and writing a fair amount of time. One way to add to this is by giving them a dry erase board. Another way to continue the drawing and writing: staple 3-5 pages together and encourage story telling together (for real experiences or imaginative ones). See what unfolds.

6. Although much more controlled in their movements, these kids still need to jump, run and play. Kids are usually becoming interested in rules here. So games like Red Light Green Light 1,2,3 are great. Another way to work on those gross motor skills - create lily pads, parking spots, train stations (whatever is familiar to your kids) by drawing + decorating papers. Then place them around the floor and hop/drive your train/car, etc to each one. Take turns telling each other where to go. Hope you don’t get stuck in traffic or a train delay!


Kids, their parents, grandparents or caregivers often invent the best games. If you’re feeling it, please share your ideas in the comment section below. Thanks for reading. The next post will have speech and language games + ideas. Till then, take care. 


Vanessa D’Auria is a licensed speech-language pathologist providing home-based services in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. For more information about Vanessa, visit speechtherapyvanessadauria.com or to ask speech/language questions, email directly at speechtherapynyc@gmail.com.

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