3 Easy Crafts To Build Your Toddler's Fine Motor Skills

activity ideas toddlers 3 min read

Today is World Lion Day, and that seemed like as good a reason as any to get crafty! 9 times out of 10, I like to give my kids art supplies and just let them get creative. But as a former preschool teacher, sometimes I still like to do a little pre-planning and give my oldest a craft that focuses on practicing fine motor skills. Here are my 3 favorite lion themed crafts. These took 5 minutes of prep work and used things I already had around the house. Because fun should be easy too.

Fine Motor Skill: Cutting

This one can be intimidating to some parents, but I would encourage you to not shy away from letting your 2-3 year old try scissors - with adult supervision of course.

At first, all they need to practice is simple snips. Short cuts to use the muscles that open and close scissors.

Lion Craft: Colour and Cut the Lion’s Mane

Draw a lion’s face on a paper plate, and short, single-snip-length thick lines around the outside of the plate. Encourage your child to colour the lion.

Tip: Talk about what colours you think of when you think of a lion, and how a lion’s bushy hair is called a mane (everything can be a vocabulary lesson too!)

Have your child cut the lines to create the lion’s mane. Your child might need you to stand behind them and help them snip but with practice those hands will get stronger and your child will be a pro!

Tip: To help your child remember to hold their scissors correctly, use a washable marker and draw a heart on the back of their thumb. If they can see the heart, they are holding their scissors right!

Fine Motor Skill: Pincher Grasp

While cutting is an important skills, there are lots of other tactile ways to build finger strength. This activity involves ripping tissue paper for the lion’s mane. Ripping the paper and scrunching it into small balls helps build fine motor strength. Dipping it in glue and sticking it helps the same muscles that your child will one day use to write!

I cut the tissue paper into strips first, and encourage my child to rip it between their pointer finger and thumb, rather than in fists.

Tissue Paper Mane Lion Craft

The steps are simple, rip a piece off, and scrunch it up into a ball. Once you have a small pile, dip each piece in white glue and stick around the edge of a paper plate. Once again I prepped the plate by drawing a face on it. This activity is also great as sensory play. Listen to the rip of the tissue paper. Feel the paper in your fingers, and the sticky glue when you dip it.

Practice Using Tools: More than Just Paint Brushes!

Painting is a favorite activity for most kids, but it doesn’t have to be limited to finger paint and brushes! Different tools help kids practice holding different shapes, different ways and using different muscles. For this one, we are painting with a fork!

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For less mess, you can of course use a disposable fork. And don’t forget your smocket!

Lion Mane Fork Painting

For this one I let my kiddo choose what colors to use and we ended up with a beautiful rainbow lion! I demonstrated once how a gentle dip in paint and touch to the paper makes a hairy mane and then let my kiddo get creative. For prep work, I drew a circle with the face in the center of the paper.

Things to Remember when Crafting with Kids

The goals of craft time should be: joy, creativity, sensory play, and fine motor skills. In that order. You won’t get a Pinterest worthy result every time, and you aren’t supposed to. The goal is quality time and learning experiences. Keep it fun, and the learning and skills will come naturally.

Do you have a favorite craft with your littles? Share it with us in the comments!


About the Author

Caitlin lives in Alberta with her husband, 2 little girls, and too many animals cause she is a sucker for a rescue. When she's not chasing kids and changing fluff bums she spends her time crocheting, gardening, and binging true crime docs.


teaching and learning toddlers activity ideas