Back-to-School Fine Motor Activities

As a former K-2 special education teacher and kindergarten teacher, I have always been passionate about fine motor work.  At the beginning of the school year in kindergarten, I always had some students who had acceptable fine motor skills.  I would also have some sweeties that were still refining their fine motor skills.  I knew that I would have to provide lots of opportunities for them to cut, write, use playdough, and more.

We teachers have seen the number of students coming into school with delayed fine motor skills increase over the last 5-10 years.  It’s easy for any experienced teacher to observe this change from year to year.  We’ve all seen the articles and studies blaming technology for kids not having the finger muscles, coordination skills, and overall fine motor capabilities they should for their age.  I think we can all agree that unfortunately, this problem isn’t going away anytime soon.

I started thinking of ways to provide more fine motor activities for all students, not just those with fine motor delays.  All children need to continue to build their finger muscles!  And as a former teacher, I know how hard it can be when you have an idea about something you want to do for your students but just don’t have the right resource.

Therefore, I decided to make themed fine motor activity packs.  I wanted to share activities that are easy to use in a variety of ways, whether they’re in morning work tubs, learning centers, or in small groups.  Versatility is key!

My first fine motor activity pack is back-to-school themed.  Each activity is either BTS-themed or is an activity that would be beneficial at the beginning of the year.  I’ll share the activities below, along with affiliate links to some of the materials on Amazon.  Keep in mind that most of these are really versatile and you do not have to use them in the way I’m showing below.  You all have pretty great ideas, too! 😉

1. Paper Tearing:  I’ve found that this works best when you give your students 1- or 2-inch strips of construction paper to rip.  Using strips instead of a whole sheet of paper reinforces the use of the pincer grasp and works the muscles more effectively.

2. Cutting Activities: There are multiple options here!  First, there’s the school supplies activity designed for beginning cutters.  They’ll just have to cut once on each line to cut apart the school supplies.  Then they will glue them onto the backpack image that you cut out for them.  There are also three different cutting puzzles.  These are slightly more advanced and you can differentiate them as needed based on your students’ cutting skills.  I would have them color, then cut, and glue onto a piece of construction paper.

3. Pinning Pages: I know using jumbo push-pins seems scary, and it should, but it’s totally doable!  Be sure to closely monitor and of course set expectations.  For some groups of kiddos, this might be an activity you just can’t do in August or September.

4. Trace and Punch Cards: You will cut apart the cards and your students will trace the school supply picture and punch on the dots.  I really like this single hole-punch since it tends to punch a little more easily than others and it’s not so harsh on their little hands.  You could print these on colored paper or cardstock!

5. Plastic Linking Cards: Students will use plastic links (like these) to connect a picture of a student going to school with a school picture.

6. Beading: There are cards for counting and color sorting.  To make them, simply cut pipe cleaners in half and tape to the back of laminated cards.  I use plastic pony beads.

7. Pre-Writing Cards: This is a set of cards of varying difficulty.  The idea is that students will imitate the lines and shapes on each card.  I added a pointer finger on each card so students know where to begin.  I laminated mine and placed them on a binder ring to keep them in order and in the correct orientation.  I used a sand tray for students to write on.

8. Stickers:  Students will place stickers on the outlines of the pictures.  I got these cheap stickers at Michael’s!  I feel like using stickers is a really great fine motor activity that’s often overlooked.

9. Tweezing or Scooping: This is a color sorting activity and you can use pom-pom balls, linking cubes, or any colorful object.  I love these jumbo plastic tweezers and you could also use scoopers or squeezy tweezers.
10. Playdough Snakes: Although snakes aren’t back-to-school themed, rolling snakes is a fundamental playdough task so I included these cards.  Students can practice rolling snakes of various lengths.
11.  Count and Clip Cards: Students will count and clip the correct number of backpacks on each card.  I like using mini clothespins for these!
I hope that these fine motor activities are useful to you in your classroom or home.  I’m creating many more themed packs so stay tuned!  If you’re interested in trying these out, click on the image below.  

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