What is Finger Isolation?

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You may have heard of finger isolation as a component of fine motor skills that kids need for dexterity and precision. Today, we’re discussing this important motor skill, how finger isolation impacts function, and activities to build finger dexterity. So, what is finger isolation? Let’s discuss!

Finger isolation is a fine motor skill kids need for dexterity and precision. Here are ccupational therpay activities to work on fine motor skills.

You’ll also find more finger isolation activities along with a craft that can help kids become more aware of this fine motor skill. Ready to build fine motor skills?  Below are small motor tools to help with development. Add these finger strengthening exercises to your therapy plans or home programs..

If there is ever an easy craft that you and the kids make, this is it.  These button rings are as cute as they are effective in developing the skills needed for tasks like maintaining a pencil grasp, shoe tying, and managing clothing fasteners.

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What is finger isolation? Use these button rings to work on using fingers one at a time in fine motor activities with kids!

What is finger isolation? 


Finger isolation is the ability to isolate and use the fingers one at a time in functional tasks. Counting one finger at a time, finger games like “Where is Thumbkin?”, and typing on a keyboard require finger isolation.  


Many small children are efficient at using tablets and phone apps with finger isolation.  When kids are scrolling the screen, they are using finger isolation.  However, when a child uses their finger in isolation on a tablet, they typically use only one finger (the index finger) and do not exert strength on the screen.  


Finger isolation typically develops in the baby at around 6 months of age as they begin to pick up small pieces of cereal. It progresses to pointing, and then separation of the two sides of the hand with in-hand manipulation. Finger isolation is so important in fine motor dexterity in every task that the hands perform. 

Development of fine motor skills includes finger isolation. Here is more information on finger isolation for dexterity and motor control.

Activities to Build finger Isolation

So, how can you build and develop finger isolation?  There are many ways to build finger isolation skills. Get a ton of ways to develop finger isolation skills and other fine motor skills.

Other finger isolation ideas here on The OT Toolbox:

Finger Isolation Game with Bubble Wrap

Fingerprint Art Finger Isolation Activity

Sensory Seek and Find

Fine Motor Alphabet Finger Isolation Activity

Finger Aerobics

Easy Clover Fingerprint Art

Distal Finger Control Exercises

Slime Pencil Grasp Activity


These super cute button rings are a craft that my kids loved making.  They wore these rings every day for a while there. (This mom did, too!)


You’ll need just a few items for this craft:
Pipe cleaners
Buttons (We had a bunch in our sewing supplies, but used buttons we received from www.craftprojectideas.com, too).

What is finger isolation? Use these button rings to work on using fingers one at a time in fine motor activities with kids!

To make the rings, cut the pipe cleaners into small pieces.  You’ll want them small enough to fit little fingers, but a little longer in order to add the buttons.  Thread the buttons onto one end of the pipe cleaner.  Twist the two ends together and tuck the end of the pipe cleaner on the outside of the ring (so it won’t rub up against the skin).


You can add extra buttons and layer different colored buttons for fun rings. 


When wearing the rings, incorporate finger isolation by placing rings on different fingers.  Ask your child to hold up the finger with a specific colored button or pipe cleaner.  Try tapping fingers with the rings one at a time by calling out a colored ring and asking your child to play a “SIMON” type of memory game.  

Activities for Fine Motor Skills

What is finger isolation? Use these button rings to work on using fingers one at a time in fine motor activities with kids!

  You’ll love these fine motor activities, too:

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