• Sarah Caughron

Fine Motor Busy Bag For Little Hands (and Older Child Minute-to-Win-it Challenges)

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

Note: Some of this content originally appeared on a website I developed and managed in 2015. Photos and content are original and will be updated in the forthcoming months.

If you need to keep a younger sibling occupied while an older student is working on a distance-learning assignment or you just need some quiet time for little hands, check out these suggestions! (But keep scrolling for some minute-to-win-it suggestions for older children!)

I don't think one can have too many fine motor activities up his or her sleeves, and this is a photo of some of my favorite activities. Fine motor activities are great because they build amazing little neural pathways for children and allow them to explore cause and effect relationships and build hand strength and coordination for using things like forceps and hand lenses in later science exploration!

The Lauri Toddler Tote is amazing, and it has pegs and puzzles that are like toddler drugs! Here's another Lauri set I like. The box suggests for 2+ years old, but we've been loving this set since about 15 months of age. Don't forget the lacing cards (included in the 2nd Lauri item listed)!

The home-run items I love for fine motor are the DIY things I've made from materials I found around the house. My favorites include simple activities like stringing beads onto a pipe cleaner. Don't have beads around the house? I made the "beads" out of cut-up drinking straws! Toss some cut straws and a few pipe cleaners into a Ziploc, and you've got a great fine-motor activity! Another favorite activity includes dropping items into a small, empty bottle. Sounds too simple to be true? My kids did this for hours. Seriously. I took Mardi Gras necklaces and cut them into 1.5-2" strips, but you can use just about anything. (I was looking for a way to dispose of/reuse the Mardi Gras beads, so this was a great opportunity for that!) Empty the string beads into a Ziploc or bowl, and demonstrate dropping the small segments into an empty juice or water bottle - or any container with a small opening. (Of course, small parts are part of the appeal of this activity, so supervise your child at ALL times!)

A final activity that is well-loved in these parts is another pipe cleaner activity. I re-purposed a snack container by cutting holes in the lid with a hole punch and gluing scrapbook paper to the outside of the container. I cut pipe cleaners in half, and my kids love poking the pipe cleaners into the holes. The bonus feature of this activity is that the pipe cleaners store right in the container. In the car, this fits great in a cup holder (like the one on your car seat)!


If you have older children and are looking for some minute-to-win-it type activities, you can take the bottle/mardi gras beads activity and time them on how long takes to put all of the beads into the bottle's small opening or use the pipe cleaner activity and time how long it takes to poke all of the pipe cleaners in the holes. Repeat, and see if your child can beat his or or time or set up a tournament between children. You can also do this with a lacing card. Time your child, and challenge him or her to see how fast a lacing card can be completed!

I am a big fan of this 100 peg board, and it's a house favorite for minute-to-win-it fun. Challenge your child to see how fast he or she can place all 100 pegs while secretly building their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills!

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