Toddlers just want to help. Anyone with little kids know this is evident as they are likely following you around the house saying “I want to do it” or “let me help”. I was recently reminded of this when my toddler asked to help make banana chocolate chip muffins with me. Through this I found that you can find fine motor activities for toddlers in every day activities.
In the past I would let her “help” but always made sure to micromanage her. I would try to take over and only give her small things to do, like holding a cup or spoon. When I used this approach she was always reaching to do what I was doing. She didn’t want to sit idly by and watch.
So this time around I let her help. Really help. She mashed the bananas. She stirred in all the ingredients. She poured the batter. She spooned it into small muffin tins. Other than measure out the ingredients, she did most of it all by herself. She now asks weekly if we can make more muffins (partly I’m sure is because they have chocolate in them).
What I found through this activity is that there are many activities like this that are great for developing fine motor skills. I started thinking of all the different tasks around the house that toddler’s can help with that also work those skills.
I found that many of the fancy fine motor activities found on Pinterest required a lot of foresight and set up. These are everyday tasks that engage the toddler but also accomplish something, simple as it may be.
Household Chores Turned Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers
Helping Bake or Cook
- Making those banana chocolate chip muffins was an eye opener. She had to stir and keep everything in the bowl. But most of all she had to scoop the batter into a muffin tin. I gave her a spoon and she spooned into a small 24 muffin tin.
- When letting a child bake or cook, always keep the tasks age appropriate as there are many dangerous items in the kitchen. You can also use this time to talk about kitchen safety.
- Ever thought about building your kid a kitchen station/helper? I don’t have a fancy stool but rather just have my daughter stand on a kitchen chair. Either way, bring them up to counter level and get their hands dirty!
- The dustpan is a great tool for fine motor activities. Whether you’re cleaning up from baking the muffins (flour and sugar everywhere!) or just cleaning up during your weekly cleaning routine, have your toddler break out the dustpan themselves. Start by holding the pan and having them sweep into the pan. Soon they’ll be able to hold both the pan and the brush.
Cleaning Up Toys
- If you’re like us, you have some toys stored in bins. We try to make our daughter clean up after playing every day (sometimes we fail and just do it ourselves, full disclosure). We like to integrate discussions about colors and shapes while we clean. We have bright colored blocks so we always have her pick up all the yellow items first, then red, and so forth.
- I still remember my mother having us help her with the laundry. She started small with items she didn’t care about like my dad’s handkerchiefs. Start with something similar with folding. I have my toddler help with small towels and washcloths. The dimensions are good for small hands and you only need two folds to make it look neat. Show the toddler what it should look like and have them copy it.
The toughest part of these tasks is to let go as a parent and let the child go at their own pace. These are not tasks that should be rushed as the child will definitely feel that. There are so many more everyday chores that can fall into fine motor activities for toddlers. You just have to keep you eyes open.