Fine Motor Activities to Keep Them Busy

You are a busy parent with a never-ending to-do list.  You need to make dinner, respond to emails, the list goes on – but your little one is full of energy and into everything. You just need a little bit of time where they are safely entertained so you can complete those tasks, but you don’t always want screens to be the answer.  Sound familiar?

Here is a list of ideas for easy activities that will suit a range of ages, and keep them busy.  Bonus – they all support fine motor development, too!

Rubber band on a can/sturdy bottle: 

Whether you have a large collection of rubber bands growing in your junk drawer, or you happen to have a fresh pack stored in your desk, this is a fun activity that can be easily expanded on should you need to buy a little bit more time when they’re through. 

  • Sit your child down at a table or on the floor with a collection of rubber bands and a can of food or a sturdy bottle.
  • Have them put the bands onto the can or bottle.  Depending on their stage of development, the goal can be to put all of them on, or extend it to see how many they can get on in a set amount of time.
  • Other optional extensions: After they have all been put on, take them off and count how many they were able to get. If the bands are different colors or thicknesses, have them sort by type.

Beading pipe cleaners:

Pipe cleaners and pony beads… a beautiful combination when it comes to quiet, focused play.  The options are pretty limitless for this activity as well. The child can make bracelets, make a “giant” beaded pipe cleaner statue, or simply practice putting beads on and off.

Here are some extension ideas:

  • Work with patterns
  • Color matching and sorting (i.e. green beads on the green pipe cleaner)
  • How many can fit? Practice counting
  • Connect multiple pipe cleaners together in different ways and make a beautiful beaded shape (i.e. square, tree, car, maze)

This option is great for a “Quiet Bin” – if you have a small container, like a pencil box, you can keep the pipe cleaners and beads together in it and quickly pull it out any time you need a few minutes of quiet play.

Pulling tape off a table: 

Okay, this one sounds super simple, and it is, but it is very satisfying for little hands that like to be into everything. 

Get out your tape – masking, painters, washi, etc. – and start putting strips all over a table (or floor, or glass door).  Overlap the layers for more interaction.  Your child will love being given a “job” to do – after all, they are a great helper – and will spend a lot of time peeling off every last piece of tape.


You can set up a weaving station using objects you have around the house.  Collect materials to weave with, such as ribbon, string, scarves and fabric scraps.  Have your child practice going over and under with the materials as they weave through: a baby gate, the stair railing, a cooling rack or a clothes basket.

Pipe cleaners out of a colander:

Stick as many pipe cleaners into the holes of your colander as you can fit, and have your child pull them out.

Cardboard tubes taped to wall or fridge:

Use painter’s tape to stick cardboard tubes onto your wall or fridge to make a ball drop station.  Let your child drop pom-poms, cotton balls, or other small objects of your choosing through the tubes.  You can choose to put different size tubes up, put them at different heights, or even make a course for the pom-poms to go through.

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