Finger Dexterity Exercise Game for Fine Motor Skills

Fine Motor Skills in kids are so important for independence in self care tasks.  Children need to develop the ability to manipulate their fingers in a coordinated manner in order to skillfully maneuver buttons, zippers, shoe laces, pencils…and the tools of learning and play…TOYS! 
We’ve got lots of posts dedicated to fine motor skills.  Finger Dexterity is a necessary step in development of fine motor skills.  This exercise game is a great one for development of precision in those little muscles of the hands, isolating fingers, and separating the two sides of the hand…all SO important in independence and play.
Try this activity to work on separating the two sides of the hand with a fun activity for kids. 


Kids will love to play this finger dexterity activity to work on fine motor skills.


What is Finger Dexterity?

Children develop their hand skills from infancy.  There are developmental milestones for fine motor development that are necessary for independence each stage of childhood.  Children also need to demonstrate dexterity in order to manipulate objects.  They need to maneuver their fingers independently of one another (this is called finger isolation) and with separation of the two sides of the hand.  Without these skills, modifications or adjustments are often made by the child.

 Separation of the two sides of the hand

When using the small muscles of the hands in dexterity tasks, one uses the side of the thumb-side of the hand.  The precision side of the hand is the thumb, pointer finger, and middle finger.  These are the fingers needed for dexterity tasks and fine motor skills.  The ring finger and pinkie finger are involved in providing stability during precision tasks.  When the index and thumb are involved in a small motor activity, the ring finger and pinkie finger are tucked into the palm and proved a support during handwriting and shoe tying.  They also provide power during grip and the force behind a gross grasp. 
So when will you see the two sides of the hand separated during activities?? Tying shoes, pulling a zipper, fastening a button, and manipulating small pegs into a pegboard are some examples of separation of the two sides of the hand.

Finger Isolation

Finger isolation is a key part of finer dexterity and begins when an infant begins to point at objects with one finger.  Using the fingers independent of one another is needed for tasks like turning a page in a book, typing, molding dough, sign language, and finger plays (“where is Thumbkin” is a great way to practice finger isolation!) 
Kids can identify colors by playing this fine motor game.

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Our finger dexterity activity began with a little prep work.  We received these acrylic paints from for free and were so excited to use them in a fun painting project. 

Kids will explore colors in this finger dexterity game.

I painted the back side of large bubble wrap with different colors.   We let these dry (and it was slightly difficult to remain patient!!)

Kids will love to play "Twister" in this fine motor exercise.

Once our paints were dry, we got our fingers ready to play some finger dexterity games!  I had Little Guy get his fingers ready by making “legs”.  This is a great way to encourage use of the two sides of the hand.  He tucked his pinkie and ring fingers into the palm of his hand and got his pointer and middle finger busy as they “walked” around.

Fun fine motor game for kids.

We played a color matching game with the colored bubbles.  I called out a color and he had to “walk” his fingers to the color and pop the color.  He was working on color awareness at the same time as we practiced finger dexterity.

kids can work on fine motor skills needed for independence in many tasks.

As I called out different colors, he had to “walk” his fingers around to the different colors.  He really worked on those finger isolation skills as he searched for a bubble that was not yet popped.  Other ways to work on finger isolation and separation of the two sides of the hand include using small objects in manipulation like crafting pom poms.

The index, middle finger, and thumb are needed to manipulate items in fine motor tasks. This activity is a great way to encourage dexterity in kids.

Even Baby Girl wanted to get in on the fun!  This finger dexterity exercise is a great way to “warm up” the hands before a handwriting or typing task for older children.  When there is weakness in the small muscles of the hands, it is often times, difficult for children to write, color, or type with appropriate grasp and positioning of the fingers and wrist.  A dexterity exercise like this one is a fun way to play and get those muscles of the hand moving and strengthened in order to improve endurance and positioning.

Looking for more fun ways to practice finger dexterity?  These are some fun games and activities you may want to try:

Working on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, or scissor skills? Our Fine Motor Kits cover all of these areas and more.

Check out the seasonal Fine Motor Kits that kids love:

Or, grab one of our themed Fine Motor Kits to target skills with fun themes:

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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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