Discover: Six Fall Fine Motor Skill Activities for Kids

This time of year schedules can be hectic, so here are a few fresh fine motor skill activity ideas for you. This collection hits so many of the major fall nature themes: acorns, pumpkins, colorful fall leaves, and hibernation.

Watch the video below for a preview of our autumn play tray ideas…

Each activity can be presented as an autumn invitation to create and utilizes a combination of natural materials and simple accessories you can easily recreate. lovely sensory-filled supplies.

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains Woodpeckers Crafts, Etsy, Blick Art Materials, and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*

Six Fall Fine Motor Skill Activities

Our squirrel acorn sorting fall fine motor skill activity sitting against a white background

Fall Fine Motor Activity #1: Squirrel Acorn Sort

BASIC SUPPLIES:

OPTIONAL SUPPLIES:

  • Felt balls, pom poms, pumpkin seeds, assorted dry beans, etc.

The squirrels have been busy gathering nuts and berries for the winter, but they’d like to sort them out and get them organized before they start stashing them away…! This colorful and cozy activity invites little ones to sort items like acorns and felt balls into separate bowls – using fingers, small spoons, or tongs.

Our squirrel acorn sorting fall fine motor skill activity sitting against a white background

To prep for this play tray, I actually cleaned and oven-dried the acorns so I could safely use them over and over. I also mixed in a few wooden acorns I had painted. They add a lovely variation and another “sortable” element, but are also a wonderful substitute you can use for real acorns if you have a hard time finding them, or are using this in a classroom/group setting where you may prefer not to use actual acorns.

I painted the small sorting bowls I used, so this could also be used as a color-matching exercise.

Our leaf threading fall fine motor skill activity siting on a white background

Fall Fine Motor Activity #2: Fall Leaf Threading and Wrapping

BASIC SUPPLIES:

OPTIONAL PREP SUPPLIES:

  • Paint
  • A sponge
  • A drill, brad point drill bit or twist drill bit, and sandpaper

These large autumn leaves are just waiting for some creative details to be added. Lay out a few larger-sized leaf cutouts with items like yarn, ribbons, and beads and invite children to create veins by threading (like our maple leaf) or add interesting colors and textures by wrapping. You could even include a stack of real leaves and a hole punch to create threaded leaf bunches that can be wrapped around these wooden leaves.

Our leaf threading fall fine motor skill activity siting on a white background

To add some visual interest and mimic the lovely fall colors we’re starting to see up north here, I sponge-painted our wooden leaves using 2-3 shades of acrylic paint on each leaf. For the maple leaf, I wanted to take advantage of the space on the wooden cutout, and drilled a few quarter-inch holes into the wood with a brad point drill bit, sanded, wiped with a damp cloth, then sponge-painted.

Instead of using wooden leaves like these, you could cut them out of cardboard (we have some free printable leaf templates you can use for the outlines) or use actual leaves. I was specifically looking for something I could keep and reuse season after season, easily rinse off, and would be easy to handle, so for my purposes, these durable wooden leaves work perfectly. The faux leather cording also works well, as it is stiffer than yarn and a bit easier for small hands to push through holes.

Our apple and colored rice kids fall fine motor skill activity sitting on a white background

Fall Fine Motor Activity #3: Fill the Fall Apples

BASIC SUPPLIES:

PREP SUPPLIES:

I spy a table full of delicious fall apples…but they need a bit of color, don’t they? Lay these simply-made yarn-outlined apples out with bowls of colored rice and small scoops and invite your kids to fill in the apples with one, two, or more colors.

Our apple and colored rice kids fall fine motor skill activity sitting on a white background

To prep for this activity, I hot-glued twine around the edge of each wooden apple. This holds the rice in shape. I also hot-glue a small piece of twig and felt leaf to the cutout to highlight the stem. I also made the colored rice from scratch using this easy process.

I love the nice soft colors of our apples and only added 3 drops of gel food coloring to each half-cup of rice, but you can add more for deeper reds or greens (or whatever colors you choose!).

Our kids pumpkin patch number match fine motor activity sitting against a white background

Fall Fine Motor Activity #4: Pumpkin Patch Number Match

BASIC SUPPLIES:

PREP SUPPLIES:

Let’s grow a pumpkin patch! For this play invitation, print out a small set of numbered cards or simply write numbers on paper scraps. Pick a number, put it in the tray, and cover it with beans. Invite kids to move the beans around to find the number. Once they’ve found the number, they can pop that number of pumpkins to their patch. Digging through the beans and standing these chunky pumpkins in the patch is good for little hands, but you can also work in some counting and sight word practice too!

You can use the numerals (“4”) write out the numbers (“four”) use a graphic like hash marks or pumpkin seeds to represent the number or try this activity using a combination of all three.

Our kids pumpkin patch number match fine motor activity sitting against a white background

I prepped the pumpkins by painting them and adding numbered stickers (on one side) to the pumpkins I can easily take off once done with the activity so these cute pumpkins can be repurposed.

I love the graphic look, and the thickness of the wooden pumpkins makes them easy to handle and stand in the tray while being able to fit a good number of pumpkins into the patch (if you’d like to count to higher numbers). However, you could use easily substitute real mini pumpkins or gourds, cardboard cutouts, use unpainted wooden pumpkins, or other decorative pumpkins you might have around the house.

Our acorn face-making kids fall craft sitting on a white background

Fall Fine Motor Activity #5: Acorn Faces

BASIC SUPPLIES:

PREP SUPPLIES:

This plain set of flat acorns is in desperate need of expressive faces and cute caps to give them a little character. This easily-adapted invitation can be introduced as a more permanent keepsake craft you can lay out with paper scraps, scissors, and glue sticks, or presented as an impermanent art exploration that can be designed and redesigned with loose parts or seasonal natural materials.

Our acorn face-making kids fall craft sitting on a white background

I prepped this activity by painting the wooden acorn cutouts and cutting out interchangeable acorn caps from assorted colors of felt (we have our own set of printable acorn templates – if you’d like to cut yours out of cardboard or construction paper).

Our playdough den building fall activity for kids sitting on a white background

Fall Fine Motor Activity #6: Playdough Den Building

BASIC SUPPLIES:

  • A tray (I used this wooden tray)
  • Playdough
  • Sticks, leaves, pinecones, or other natural materials

OPTIONAL SUPPLIES:

  • Other decorative play or sensory supplies
  • Play woodland animals

It’s hibernation time, and a few animals are in need of creative designs for their dens. For this tinker tray, you can lay out a selection of playdoughs along with collected nature supplies and invite a bit of den-making.

Our playdough den building fall activity for kids sitting on a white background

The only preparation for this activity was to make the DIY playdough (you can find the easy recipe I use here) but you can skip that by using a packaged dough, of course. To create the soft brown color, I added about an eighth of a bottle of brown gel food coloring to the whole batch (2 cups of playdough).


Looking ahead for fine motor skill-building ideas to save for winter? Felt and clothespins are all you need for these DIY winter-themed color-sorting, counting, and simple math games. Or let your little one design their own tabletop winter sensory garden.

*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Blick Art Materials, Amazon, Etsy, or Woodpeckers Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click through to make a purchase we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

Amanda Eldridge
Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.

TAKE THE ADVENTURE TOUR!

Sign up for our 5-day "Adventures in Play" tour series - a high seas play journey delivered right to your inbox...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *