Improving Fine Motor Skills with Pediatric Occupational Therapy

Mikey practices grasping and then using two hands to put the toys in place.

Fine motor skills traditionally refer to a child’s use of small hand muscles to complete tasks, such as writing, stacking blocks, cutting, constructing Legos and much more.

“What many people don’t realize is that fine motor skills do not just depend on the hands,” said Pam Modugno, OTR/L. “You need good core and shoulder strength in order to have good output with the hands. When children come to us for fine motor skill therapy there is usually much more going on than just an issue with the hand muscles.”

Children who are referred to Bacharach for treatment undergo an evaluation, so the pediatric therapist can identify their specific deficiency. “Each child is different, as is the severity of their diagnosis,” said Pam. “We usually will see kids for 12 weeks and then re-evaluate to see how far they’ve come and if we think they need to continue therapy.”


Most kids with motor skill issues are between 2 years-old and 10 years-old, but they can also be seen in kids younger and older. Many of the deficiencies are discovered once a child is in school.


Pam and her team devise an individualized plan for each child which consists of a variety of exercises to help them work on their fine motor skills and play exercises that they can do at home to coincide with the therapy. The types of exercises include: strength, hand-eye coordination, bi-lateral coordination and grasping.


Pam’s suggests the following types of exercises including

  • Shoulder  Strength exercises: crab walk, bear crawl, wheelbarrow walk
  • Hand Strength:  popping bubble wrap, playing with play dough and putty
  • Hand-Eye coordination activities: playing catch games, and different pouring activities
  • Bi-Lateral activities: Legos, mega blocks, tinker toys and various writing activities
  • Grasping Activities: pipe cleaner crafts, lite brite, stickers and small travel games


“We have had a lot of success with our patients,” said Pam. “The kids enjoy the exercises because they involve a lot of play and they are building up their strength. I always tell parents to make sure their kids are active. In order to enhance their child’s development, they need to limit screen time and get them outside to run, bike, climb and play games.”


More News