Fine Motor Skills Checklist for Preschool

Updated April 17, 2017

Fine motor skills involve very precise movements. Fine motor skills are needed to tie shoes, hold a pencil, use a fork and knife and even pick up small objects. Children's fine motor skills progress at a very rapid rate during the preschool years. Delays in the fine motor development of your child should be discussed with your doctor, as these can be indicators of a developmental delay or difficulty.

30 to 36 Months

By 3 years, most children will be able to place large beads on a string. They should also be able to cut paper with scissors and roll clay into a long snake shape. Most 3-year-olds will be able to draw a horizontal line on paper when shown how. Allow your child to exercise her fine motor skills daily by drawing, playing with clay and using safety scissors with scrap paper.

36 to 42 Months

Children in this age group can manipulate puzzle pieces with ease and can stack a tower of at least nine blocks. Most children in this age group can dress themselves independently, although they will still need help with buttons and shoelaces. Children in this age group are also becoming independent eaters, able to drink from a cup without spilling most of the time. Give your child opportunities to practice these skills during mealtimes.

42 to 48 Months

Three-and-a-half to 4-year-olds can usually pour their own drinks from small pitchers and can feed themselves with spoons and forks without much spilling. Children in this age group can easily manipulate peg boards and will hold writing instruments with three fingers, though they still use their forearm to move the pencil or crayon across the page. They are also capable of stringing small beads.

48 to 54 Months

Four-year-olds can use scissors to follow and cut straight and wavy lines drawn on paper. They can usually manage buttons, snaps and zippers on their own, but may still need assistance with shoelaces. Four-year-old children will be able to copy simple patterns such as intersecting lines using a pencil or crayon.

By 60 Months

By age 5, many children are able to dress themselves completely, and can tie their shoelaces. Five-year-olds use a mature pencil grasp and are able to use only their fingers to manipulate pencils or crayons rather than their whole forearm. They are becoming adept with scissors and will be able to cut simple shapes from paper. They are beginning to show some knife skills through the ability to spread soft foods such as margarine, jelly and peanut butter, as well as cut through some food items such as bread. The more you allow your child to practice these fine motor activities, the quicker these skills will develop.

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About the Author

Kara Bietz has been writing professionally since 1999. Her professional observation work has appeared in the early childhood education textbook "The Art of Awareness" by Margie Carter and Deb Curtis. Bietz has worked in the field of early childhood education for more than 16 years. She holds an Associate of Applied Science in child development from Mesa College.