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"Non Crafty" Fine Motor Activities For Tweens and Teens
November 10, 2020 at 8:30 PM
by Sherry LeVota
Woman with a MacBook on a sofa

Fine motor skill development into the adolescent and teenage years is important! It can be easy to forget this as fine motor skills are often emphasized in infants and toddlers, but they continue to be important skills for adolescents and teenagers affecting academics, self-care, and participation in school sports or band. Fine motor skills may come easier to some more than others, but it is never too late to improve them! And for those who they come easier to, maintenance of skills is key.

With screen time increasing all the time for adolescents and teenagers, fine motor skills are used less and less. According to one studyreported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “kids ages 8-18 now spend, on average, 7.5 hours in front of a screen for entertainment each day, 4.5 of which are spent watching TV. Over a year, that adds up to 114 full days watching a screen for fun.” While there are many benefits to technology, there are drawbacks too. The research is still emerging on the causal relationship of screen time and fine motor skills in adolescents and teenagers. Speaking from experience, as an occupational therapist, I have seen firsthand the hindrance excessive screen time can have on fine motor skills in adolescents and teenagers. It is important that fine motor skills be developed from a young age and then maintained and built upon throughout the adolescent and teenage years.

Fine motor activities don’t have to be arts and crafts! While we love arts and crafts at Beyond Function, we realize not all adolescents and teenagers do. And that’s ok by us. Try these “non-crafty” fine motor activities to break up the screen time at home! Building fine motor skills can be both educational and fun. Your adolescent or teenager may even find a new hobby!

Make no bake cookie balls (Google a recipe by hand no Alexa)

Pop bubble wrap

Paint nails (yours or someone else’s)

Plant seeds

Arrange flowers

Pull weeds

Learn a song on piano

Learn ukulele or guitar

Write or type a letter to an older adult 

Join a fan club online

Help make dinner

Learn computer programming or start an online typing program (*While this activity does involve screen time, it uses technology as a tool to build fine motor skills)

Peel and cut up an apple 

Peel and separate an orange

Braid someone’s hair

Thumb wrestle

Try on jewelry

Tie scarves

Play with a fidget

Sort and roll change

Learn to sign the alphabet

Hide tiny objects in silly putty

Make play doh or slime 

Give a dog a bath

Fold laundry

“Walk” a small ball up and down the legs

Build with legos

Learn to play the piano

Piece together a puzzle (bonus if it is small pieces!)

Learn to crochet with a hook, loom, or even your own hands