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Classic Games that Promote Fine Motor Skills in Children 5 and Up

Updated on November 27, 2014
rmcrayne profile image

Rose Mary, an Occupational Therapist since 1987, is experienced with pre-term infants, early intervention, school therapy, & home health.

Board Games
Board Games | Source

These games are for children 5 years old and up. I have previously written hubs on board games like Chutes and Ladders, and card and dice games like Picture Dominos, for children 3 to 8. The games in this hub are geared toward fine motor skills like coordination and hand manipulation. Also, strategy is different from that of board, card and dice games.

Many of these games were listed by the manufacturer as being for 3 to 6 year olds. Although a 3 year old may understand the concept of the games, most would not have the motor skill necessary to play the game, and would therefore be quite frustrated. Also, given the number of adults I found in photos and videos playing these games, it would obviously be a shame to have a 6 year old cut-off.

The motor skills Games featured in this hub:

Barrel of Monkeys

Ants in the Pants

Please Don’t Spill the Beans

Bouncin’ Tigger Game

Don’t Break the Ice

Thin Ice

Hot Potato

Toss Across

Monkeying Around

Let’s Go Fishin’

Young children enjoy putting the monkeys in and out of the barrel
Young children enjoy putting the monkeys in and out of the barrel | Source

Barrel of Monkeys

Number of Players: 1 or more players

Ages: 5 and up.

Brief Overview: Link monkeys together by looping a monkey arm with the arm of the last monkey on the chain. Repeat, attempting to link 12 monkeys.

Amazon Customer Rating: 4.1 of 5 stars, from 80 raters.

Skills: Motor coordination and endurance.

Versions: Color of monkeys may vary.

Modifications: Manufacturers recommend this game for 3 and up. Three year olds could use both hands to try to link the monkeys. Most would be too short to link 12 monkeys in a strand.

Barrel of Monkeys

Ants in the Pants Commercial

Ants in the Pants

Number of Players: 2 to 4 players.

Age: 5 and up.

Brief Overview: Each player has 4 ants, measuring 2.5” each. On go, players begin flipping ants. First player to get all 4 of their ants into Fido’s pants wins.

Amazon Customer Rating: 3.7 of 5 stars from 55 raters. Chief complaint was that it was too difficult and therefore frustrating for 3- and 4-year olds. As you can see, I adjusted the age, as I have for many of the games in this series.

Skills: Fine motor control and accuracy. Gauging of pressure and force to control trajectory.

Versions: SpongeBob with 4 of 5 stars from 4 raters.

Modifications: Let younger children stand closer and throw instead of flip ants. Suitable for solitary play to practice skills.

Don't Spill the Beans

Number of Players: 2 to 4 players.

Ages: 5 and up.

Brief Overview: Players take turns dropping beans one at a time onto the top surface of the bean pot while it toddlers. Eventually the pot will tip to one side spilling all of the beans. The first player to run out of beans wins.

Amazon Customer Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars from 73 raters. Chief complaints: Pot tips after about 10 beans, which one rater easily remedied by placing a few coins in the bottom of the pot for weight and stability. Other complaints of 3 year old children not enjoying the game.

Skills: Fine manipulation and control. Counting skills.

Modifications: Weight pot as above.

Bouncin' Tigger Game

Number of Players: 1 or more players.

Ages: 5 and up.

Brief Overview: Players help Tigger get ready to go on a picnic by piling his picnic supplies on him. Items have loops and hooks. Be the one to pile on too much and Tigger springs and drops everything.

Amazon Customer Rating: 3 of 5 stars by 2 raters. One rater, who bought it for her 3 year old, thought Tigger was supposed to continually bounce, and gave a rating of 1. The other rater gave a 5.

Skills: Fine motor coordination and control.

Don't Break the Ice Game
Don't Break the Ice Game | Source

Don't Break the Ice

Number of Players: 2 players.

Ages: 5 and up.

Brief Overview: Players take turns tapping out ice blocks with a rubber mallet. Try not to be the one that topples the polar bear.

Amazon Customer Rating: 4.4 of 5 stars from 238 raters.

Skills: Coordination and control; strategy.

Versions: Don’t Break the Ice Mini Cootie Assortment game.

Modifications: Suitable for 1 player to play and practice skills.

Vintage Thin Ice Game
Vintage Thin Ice Game | Source

Thin Ice

Number of Players: 2 or more players.

Age: 5 and up.

Brief Overview: A tissue forms the play surface. Players take turns using tongs to retrieve marbles one at a time from the water trough and place on the surface. Quickly pass tongs because whoever is holding the tongs when the surface breaks, collects a letter, starting with “I”. Loser is the first to spell ICE.

Amazon Customer Rating: Single rating of 3.9 of 10 stars. Complaint that it only took 3 or 4 marbles to break the tissue, and her 6 year old could not replace the tissue independently without slightly tearing it.

Skills: Fine motor control, grading and tool use.

Modifications: Consider placing 2 layers of tissue. Suitable for 1 player to practice skills.

Hot Potato

Number of Players: 2 to 6 players.

Ages: 5 and up.

Brief Overview: Similar to Musical Chairs. Squeeze the potato to start the music. Pass the potato among players. If you have possession of the potato when the music stops, you must collect a potato chip. Collect 3 chips and you are out of the game. Squeeze again to reactive the music and continue play. Last person standing wins.

Amazon Customer Rating: 4.3 of 5 stars from 164 raters for musical electronic hot potato shown.

Skills: Arm coordination for throwing.

Versions: Soft and hard shell potatoes available.

Modifications: Younger children can stand closer for throwing.

Toss Across

Number of Players: 2 players or teams.

Ages: 5 and up.

Brief Overview: Players take turns throwing bean bags to play Tic Tac Toe.

Amazon Customer Rating: 3.9 of 5 stars from 84 raters (version shown at right.

Skills: Coordination for throwing and aim.

Versions: Hello Kitty, Simpsons, Pirates of the Caribbean, NY Jets, NY Giants, Yankees/Red Sox, NBA East/West, Travel Game.

Modifications: More than 2 players or teams could take turns at play.

Monkeying Around game
Monkeying Around game | Source

Monkeying Around

Number of Players: 2 to 4 players.

Ages: 5 and up.

Brief Overview: There are 32 hanging monkeys, 8 each of 4 colors. Players take turns spinning to see how many monkeys they must remove from the tree without upsetting the treetop.

Amazon Customer Rating: 4.3 of 5 stars from 70 raters.

Skills: Coordination and control to remove monkeys.

Modifications: Suitable for solitary play to practice skills.

Let's Go Fishin Game

Let's Go Fishin'

Number of Players: 1 to 4 players.

Ages: 5 and up.

Brief Overview: Players take turns trying to catch a total of 21 fish with their fishing poles. Fish are circling in the pond, moving up and down, and their mouths are opening and closing.

Amazon Customer Rater: 3.8 of 5 stars from 249 raters.

Skills: Coordination and timing.

Versions: Toy Story, Hello Kitty, travel game.


Submit a Comment

  • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    Thanks Christy. Remember playing Don't Spill the Beans together?

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Wow, reading this sure brought back memories. I played many of these games. Who knew I was working on learning skills that one day may make or lose me money!!! Keep writing RM


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