Fine Motor DevelopmentIt’s hard to believe its that time of year again! The holidays are upon us, and the stores are piled high with colorful, attractive toy displays. During the holiday season, I try to give parents a little guidance for making gift purchases. I figure if they’re spending the money already, they may as well get the most bang for their buck. I’m not a fan of character-themed toys because they do little to ignite the child’s imagination or spur developmental growth.

Instead, I always encourage parents to ask these questions about a toy they are considering as a gift.

  1. Does this toy help my child develop a particular skill?
  2. Can this toy be used in a variety of ways?
  3. Does this toy require my child to problem solve, persist, or complete a challenging activity?

If the answer to even one of these questions is “yes,” that toy is a great buy. If all of them are “no,” it’s probably not the greatest gift, at least from a developmental perspective.

As the holidays get closer, I’ll be featuring toys that help your child work on skills in a variety of domains. This week I’ll be discussing fine motor skills. Here are some of my top picks:

Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Piggy Bank: This chunky swine has a large slot for dropping large, colored, textured coins, perfect for developing dexterity in little hands.

Melissa and Doug Chunky Puzzles: The chunky wood removable pieces for this high-quality puzzle can double as play figures for pretend play because they’re sturdy enough to stand. It is available in a farm, safari, and dinosaur themes.

WEDGiTS Building Blocks: This toy is so versatile because it can be used in very simple or very complex ways. Perfect for children struggling with hand-eye coordination, these building blocks are simple to stack because of their unique nesting configuration. Even big-kid brains will enjoy solving the puzzle cards that come with the more advanced sets.

VTech Sorting Drum: An alternative to the classic shape sorter, Vtech takes it up a notch with their sorting drum. The drum plays sounds and music for correct sorting responses. Perfect for children who need a little extra reinforcement.

Lauri Tall-Stackers Peg Building Set: Little hands work hard to stack this creative system of pegs and foam boards to create unique architecture! Perfect for strengthening hand-eye coordination, as well as building hand and wrist muscle and developing creativity.

Melissa and Doug Cutting Food: This comes in a variety of options including fruits/vegetables, pizza, cake, and even eggs. The toy combines fine motor task of chopping wood-and-Velcro food items with endless pretend play possibilities.

Lakeshore Indestructible Giant Beads and Patterns: This toy combines stringing beads with patterning skills for a fun and funky challenge! Beads are brightly colored and chunky enough for little hands to handle.


By Chaya Glatt