Last Updated on October 26, 2022 by admin
When I write posts about the types of toys that help kids develop certain “skills” (such as fine motor skills), I worry that parents will think that they’re somehow obligated to figure some magical combination of toys they can buy to turn their kid into a rocket scientist.
I think it’s irritating at best when companies market their products this way.
In my opinion, the point of buying toys that correspond to different developmental stages or growing parts of your toddler’s brain is that they’re FUN and ENGAGING for your kid at that point, because they naturally want to work on those things at a particular age or stage.
Now that I’ve said my piece, let’s talk about fine motor toys. For the purpose of this post, I define a fine motor toy as any that requires kids to use the small muscles in their hands with some precision. As you’ll see below, some toys tout themselves specifically as fine motor toys, must most of them just naturally require the use of kids’ hands.
Either way, 2-year-olds are often fascinated with the process of placing small parts into slots or finding where they fit or belong. They’re also interested in seeing the cause and effect of splotching colors onto paper, or in watching a little figureine go down a slide or down a track. All of those factors make these fine motor toys for 2-year-olds great gift ideas.
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Most coloring activities require some fine motor skills. As I wrote in my post on art supplies for 2-year-olds, there are markers, crayons, and paintbrushes that were designed specifically for todders.
Some sets come with plastic chalk holders to make it easier for toddlers to use them longer and without scraping their little fingers, although I’m not sure that’s totally necessary.
For more art toy suggestions, read the full post on The Best Art Supplies and Toys for 2-Year-Olds
Miniature playsets generally consist of a set of small figureines on a playset. Kids use fine motor skills to move the characters around the playsets, which also tend to have at least a few moveable features like doors, knobs, and elevators that also require fine motor skills.
Shown here is a popular line of miniatures from Fat Brain Toys called Timber Tots that features a collection of cute woodland animals.
For more suggestions for miniature sets, read the full post: The Best Miniature Sets for 2-Year-Olds.
Train Sets & Vehicle Sets
Toys that include tracks for vehicles, including wooden train sets, are great gifts for toddlers. Not only do they inspire their imaginations, but kids will employ a bit of logical and spatial skills to build the tracks. They also use their fine motor skills to connect the trains and move them along the tracks they’ve built.
2-year-olds are fascinated with opening and closing doors and fasteners, which is just one of the many reasons why you can never take your eyes off them. That’s also why 2-year-olds, especially younger ones, love latch boards, also sometimes called activity boards or “busy boards.”
The one shown here is wooden, but there are also fabric-style busy boards available on Amazon.
Toddlers can have fun practicing their gripping skills to move a small marble along this city-street-themed “maze,” which includes a roundabout. This HABA maze is designed for 24 months and up but will interest kids past their toddler years.
Puzzles geared for 2-year-olds all have larger pieces that are easy for little hands to grab, either with pegs or by being taller than the background board. These puzzles take the guesswork out of figuring out which piece goes where, but still provide the satisfaction of fitting the pieces into the right spots.
For more puzzle suggestions, including puzzle pairs, check our our full post: The Best Puzzles for 2-Year-Olds.
Kids who don’t mind sitting down for a few minutes and concentrating will love a shape sorter. Shape sorters also look great on a shelf, are self-contained, are relatively small and inexpensive, and do incorporate fine motor skills in addition to logic/spatial skills.
It’s hard to go wrong with this cute sushi set, which is just $8.
A genre of toys that I’m unofficially calling “snap-together” toys, like the snap-n-learn dinos shown here, allow kids to have fun with mixing and matching different parts to make their own creations. And, of course, they practice fine motor skills in the process.
You wouldn’t think a 2-year-old would be able to play a board game, but these days, there are plenty of games designed just for them. These games are fun for social-emotional skills and also use logic, but as a bonus, they employ fine motor skills as the kids learn to pick up and manipulate small pieces, such as dice.
For more gift suggestions, check our our full post on The Best Board Games for 2-Year-Olds.
Play dough is primarily a tactile toy. That said, squeezing the dough and coaxing it into various shapes is also a fine motor activity. And since play dough is such a hit with most toddlers, I thought it warranted a spot on this list. Consider that many 2-year-olds will try to eat the dough as soon as you look away, so make sure to get a brand that’s actually designed for 2 and up (and keep an eye on them as they play, of course).
Another toy that combines imaginary play with fine motor play are these garages-with-keys types of toys. Kids park the cars in their color-corresponding garages and then lock and unlock the doors.
Fine Motor Toys
Along with toys that encourage toddlers to “naturally” use their fine motor skills in the course of other activities, such as with paint or play dough, there’s a whole subcategory of toys that is designed specifically for toddlers to use to practice fine motor skills.
Some have puzzle-like or game-like qualities, but the main draw is usually experimenting with placing small parts into designated slots.
For example, toddlers can place scales on the back of “Steggy the Fine Motor Dino” or place the rainbow pegs into the cute wooden cloud, then squeeze the cloud to pop them out again.