Ice Cube Trays in Fine Motor Skill Building

Preschool offers your kids and students a great opportunity to hone their fine motor skills. While most activities and exercises they complete in the typical school day have components that test these skills, Deborah J. Stewart recommends being intentional about encouraging your child or student's fine motor skill development.

A great way to do this is with a simple activity or play station. At a small preschool table provide interested students with a plastic ice cube tray and a community bucket of small, plastic objects. In her example, Stewart used small plastic fruit counters (e.g. bananas, apples, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, etc.). While they may look to you for instruction, assure your students that the rules are theirs to make. They key is that, while they play, their focus will be on getting the small pieces of fruit into the tray compartments and back out. This is a great test of coordination, control, and focus - hallmarks of fine motor skill mastery. As they become more comfortable with these "tools", encourage them to try:

  • sorting by color
  • sorting by fruit
  • patterning
  • counting
  • estimating (e.g. how many bananas will fit into the tray compartment?)

This play or activity station will not only help build your students' fine motor skills, but will teach them important social skills like sharing, taking turns, and more!

Tools to promote fine motor skills in preschool

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