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Home » Blog » Writing & Language » Writing Instruction » Build Fine Motor Skills With These 2nd Grade Activities

Build Fine Motor Skills With These 2nd Grade Activities

Writing & Language, Writing Instruction

Written by: Mary Kate Bolinder

Messy handwriting. Difficulty drawing or coloring. Low stamina for typing. Frustration when cutting with scissors. Does this sound like one of your students? Fine motor skills play an important role in academic and personal success. What can teachers do if they observe student fine motor skills to be lacking? Read on for more information to assist 2nd grade students with building fine motor abilities in a classroom setting.

What are fine motor skills?

common classroom tools that require fine motor precision in a 2nd grade classroom: scissors, crayons, pencils

Fine motor skills are defined as the ability to perform precise movements with the small muscles in the hands and wrists. Examples of fine motor activities include school-related tasks such as writing, drawing, and cutting with scissors, to self-care tasks such as holding a utensil to eat, zipping a coat, or tying shoes.

In the book Play to Progress, author and Doctor of Occupational Therapy Allie Ticktin discusses the three of the main aspects of fine motor development:

3 Aspects of Fine Motor Development:

  1. In-Hand Manipulation: shifting an object within one hand, without using the other. Example: Moving a math counter from the palm of the hand to the fingers, readjusting a pencil in hand, flipping a pencil to use the eraser.
  2. Grasp: how one holds an object in one hand. Example: grasping a pencil to write, holding a spoon to eat.
  3. Bi-Lateral Coordination: Using both hands together to complete a task. Example: Holding scissors in one hand, and rotating a piece of paper in the other hand to cut.

These are three of the most common fine motor skills used in a school setting. For a more comprehensive list of fine motor skills and activities, click here.

Why are fine motor skills important?

valentine bug two digit subtraction color by number sheet

It is estimated that 45% of time elementary students spend in the classroom includes some type of fine motor activity. That’s nearly half the school day! For students with fine motor issues, this can be limiting. According to some studies, poor fine motor skills can lead to difficulties in academic achievement, increased anxiety, and poor self-esteem. As teachers, we want to do everything we can to set out students up for success, both academically and emotionally. If you are concerned that a student’s fine motor skills may be impacting their education, consult with your school’s occupational therapist or school services team. As we always say at Lucky Little Learners, Together We Are Better!

Fine Motor Activities for 2nd Grade Learners

Handwriting Practice with Humor

joke of the day handwriting practice booklets

Handwriting fluency, or how quickly students can produce letters correctly, is still a developing skill in 2nd grade. According to international research, “Until children can produce letters quickly and accurately, it is assumed that handwriting disrupts and limits the quality of their text.” In short, don’t skip out on quality letter formation instruction! Read our post on how to help struggling writers for more information. To get students laughing as they practice their basic letter formation, check out our Handwriting Practice Pages: Jokes and Facts.

Hands-On Literacy Interventions

Our Hands-On Literacy Interventions feature various activities to strengthen student fine motor skills. With centers like Dough Spelling and Dough Sound Smash, students will manipulate play-doh, which is great for building hand strength! In centers like Sound Chains, students will work with plastic chains to build words – all while building fine motor dexterity.

1st & 2nd Grade Math Group Activities

pipe cleaner and beads as manipulatives to solve a basic addition math problem

These math small group activities promote hands-on learning! With activities that use play-doh, clothespins, pony beads and pipe cleaners, students can strengthen their math skills and fine motor skills at the same time. Try addition beads to help your students solve math equations and help fine motor development at the same time!

Download HERE

Scribble Spelling

scribble spelling activity to help build fine motor skills

Want to increase hand strength and dexterity? The answer is simple – SCRIBBLE! Yes, really! Scribbling allows students to use different pencil strokes, grip, and pressure to create lines on the page. Give our Scribble Spelling a try. Students love learning outside the lines!

Download HERE

Directed Drawings

fish directed drawing activity to build fine motor skills in 2nd grade

Drawing allows students to strengthen their hand muscles in a fun, no-pressure way. Try our Directed Drawings pack, perfect to use for any season or subject. Visit our blog post for more tips on how to use directed drawings in the classroom.

Download HERE

Math Puzzles

2-digit math puzzle sheet

Practice bilateral coordination with cutting practice as students create these math puzzles.

Download HERE

If you are strategic about using fine motor activities for 2nd grade students, their stamina with all the fine motor tasks that happen in the school day will improve! Best of all, their confidence will soar too!


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