Occupational Therapy & Fine Motor Activities


Short days, long evenings in the winter can be hard to get out to do activities. There are lots of activities that can be done at home which are fun while incorporating fine motor skills development The various activities have been chosen to appeal to a wide range of ages from around 4 years to 12 years as well as containing different activities that may appeal specifically to either boys or girls or both!


TheraPutty is a fun way for children to develop grip strength dexterity, hand strengthening, stay attentive while developing the fine motor muscles in hands and fingers. By developing your child’s hand strength, it will facilitate fluid fine motor, handwriting and daily living skills. TheraPutty is a resistant type dough that works on strengthening the small muscles of the hands and fingers. Each colour relates to a specific strength ranging from Extra- Extra- Soft, Extra- Soft, Soft, Medium, Firm Exra-firm. The useful life of TheraPutty is quite long because the product doesn’t dry out and it feels the same the next time they pick it up.



Exercises: Before you begin, be sure to choose the right colour TheraPutty and exercise based on the child’s skill. Every child will have different strengths and skills that need to be accounted for. The TheraPutty exercises below should be personalized, easy to learn, and fun.



Placing Coins in a ball of putty and direct the child to find them and pull them out, one at a time. (Supervise child throughout this activity).


Roll the putty into a ball, roll it around a hard surface alternating between hands, then squeeze it in the palm of their hands.



Have the children use even pressure and roll the putty into a log shape. Alternate between them rolling the putty on a table and in between their two hands.




When the log is make, it can be turned into a snake, then create spikes for the snake. This can be done by encouraging the child to use their index finger and thumb to pinch the putty.



Jigsaws & Puzzles: Develops pincer & tripod grasps (also works on hand-eye co-ordination, planning and visual perception)



Toy Cars: Develops whole hand strength, rolling the cars back and forth, and having races with others, will encourage keeping the grasp for longer.



Building towers with small lego bricks: Encourage child to copy an already built model. Use different colour bricks to encourage choice making and colour recognition.



Using a tweezers to pick up small objects. Start with light objects, cotton wool and progress to heavier objects, small stones, or playing operation. Tweezers can vary depending on the grip of the child, starting with an easy -grip one and moving on to a finer one as needed.



Colouring – using small thick crayons to colour on different materials e.g. paper, card, and try putting paper over sandpaper, this will give good feedback to child.




Pegs: Take a medium square of hard corrugated cardboard (from and old box) and a few coloured pegs. Make sure they are the ones that your child can squeeze together on one end so the other opens. Show them how to peg them on and off the edge of the cardboard. Having coloured lines on the cardboard, the child must match the peg to the colour.




Sponges: squeezing to wring out the water is great for strengthening hands and forearms. Help wash toys and dolls in the sink or bathtub by squeezing sponges on them.




Bubble Pack: Pop the bubbles on large or small bubble pack by pinching with thumb and index finger or by pushing down on bubbles when sheet is placed on a hard surface.

Have fun!

By Aoife Ryan



Aoife Ryan is an Occupational Therapist at The Down Syndrome Centre. She has an honours degree in Education and Training and a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. Aoife has a behavioural background and has worked with children and young people with disabilities for over fifteen years. Aoife has mostly worked in schools and with families in the home. Aoife is continuously progressing with her personal development, and has completed many courses, to name a few; Lámh, Handwriting Without Tears, PEC’s and Relationship and sexuality for young people with disability. Aoife is registered with CORU and an AOTI member.


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