Awesome Buckle Toys for Fine Motor Skills

I was wasting time on Amazon (do you do that too? It’s the ultimate window shopping experience!) one day and I came across a series of buckle toys that made my occupational therapy mouth drool. Ok, maybe I’m being a little dramatic here, but as a pediatric OT, I can tell you that there are a LOT of kids out there not getting the play skills they need to develop fine motor skills and visual motor skills needed for functioning. We can go into that in more detail, including why a buckling activity supports development, in a bit. But I do want to get this occupational therapy toy into your hands, and for good reason!

buckle toys for fine motor skills

Buckle toys like these ones support fine motor skills and visual motor skills.

What is a Buckle Toy

First, if you aren’t a pediatric occupational therapy provider, you might be wondering “what is a buckle toy!?”

A buckle toy is a handheld toy, usually a soft toy or interactive book, that has various buckles and straps for attaching and connecting. You’ve probably seen Montessori type toys that have buckle before but never thought twice about them. It’s a clothing fastener toy that supports development of much needed skills!

They might be a stuffed animal with colorful straps that snap together. Or, there might be added clothing fasteners that kids can manipulate and attach. I’ve seen buckle and snap toys with clothing fasteners like snaps, zippers, buttons, velcro attachments, and other fun fine motor tasks.

This type of toy is perfect for the child working on fine motor skills and clothing fasteners, but it actually covers more underlying skills than just that.

As a pediatric OT, I LOVE these toys!

We’ve shared various fine motor toys in the past, and specifically, bilateral coordination toys. The buckle/fidgeting toy is a gem!

Why I Love Buckle Toys as a Pediatric OT

I mentioned a couple of the reasons why buckle toys are so fantastic. Let me list this out because the benefits of playing with a buckle type toy is pretty extensive.

We cover all of the fine motor skills needed for dressing skills in a different blog post, because there are many underlying skill components (that are addressed by a buckling toy like the ones below) that are needed for teaching kids self-dressing skills.

Buckle activities build fine motor skills through play!

Awesome Buckle Toys

Some of the best buckle and fidget/manipulation toys are fun stuffed animals, but there are things like backpacks too…You can find a lot of different types on Amazon!

  • Buckle backpacks
  • Stuffed animal buckle toys
  • Buckle board book
  • Shape buckling toys

I found some that I love and I have the OT perspective behind each type of toy.

Buckle Toy Backpacks

The reason I came across these toys on Amazon is that I was actually looking at therapy bags. I saw this buckle and snap toy backpack and thought it actually would be pretty fun to see as a therapy backpack! While it is a bit on the smaller size and you would need a tote to carry paper and files, you could actually use this buckle toy to hold a handful of therapy materials to use in OT sessions.

Because the school based OTs know that carrying a ton of supplies from school to school building is painful, but a must. The other thing that is true is that occupational therapy providers can make a complete therapy session with just a handful of materials. So, add a pair of scissors, some index cards, a pencil, maybe a tub of theraputty, and a fidget or two, possibly a dice or a spinner, and you have a whole session in your hands.

I love that this buckle backpack has the snaps, clips, and a side pouch with snaps. You can have your therapy students access materials like a dice or a fidget from the pocket and work on the functional task of snapping the snap.

Another buckle backpack that I like has a variety of clothing fasteners. This one has ties, lacing, buttons, snaps, and other clothing fasteners.

Stuffed animal backpack– This stuffed animal buckle toy backpack is a little different because it has some added fine motor features but it’s also a fun stuffed animal, too.

Buckle Toy Busy Board

I like this buckling toy busy board because it can be slid into a therapy bag or a diaper bag for fine motor quiet play. Or, slide it into your therapy bag as a table-top toy.

This is a great toddler toy because they can get the benefit of quiet play without a screen!

Stuffed Animal Toys

There are a ton of different stuffed animal manipulation skills toy options. Most of these are nice because they have a zipper pocket that kids can open and put items inside. Holding the zipper and the toy supports bilateral coordination skills. And, when they pinch the zipper to grasp and pull open the pocket, the child is working on hand strength, arch development, open thumb web space, all of which are fine motor skills they need for tasks like pencil grasp.

The ones I listed below are nice lap-sized toys. They are great toddler toys for using in a stroller or in a car seat.

Here are some that I found:

  • Dog Buckle Toy– this one has numbers on its belly to work on number identification, but there are also different colored shapes on the dog’s back and feet. It’s a great way to work on shape identification, color identification, and visual discrimination skills.
  • Buckle Toy Airplane– This buckle activity is fun for the little one that is obsessed with all things airplanes. There are shapes and numbers on this one too.
  • Shark– This cute motor skills toy is an adorable shark. I love that the mouth zippers open and closed because opening and closing the zipper is a fun way to work on precision grasp and hand strength!
  • Turtle
  • Lion– This one has a nice handle and it makes a great stroller toy for toddlers.
  • Crab
  • Ladybug
  • Caterpillar

SHape Buckle Toys

Then, there are the buckle activity toys that are shapes. These are actually a little more advanced than some of the stuffed animal toys that I mentioned above. This is because the straps are a little longer and it can be more challenging to attach the strap to the correct match.

The different toys have different buckle types so this makes it harder to find the correct and matching attachment, too.

Here are some shape options:

So, which do you think you will try? The thing is that these toys all support fine motor skill development, but it’s nice because you can select the toy that fits the needs of the child you are supporting!

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

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