On our way home from school yesterday, we spotted a treasure trove of nature's finest manipulative: acorns. My son gathered a bunch of acorns and insisted we bring them home. Instead of refusing him, I realized acorns would be perfect for fine motor skills activities!
Using Acorns for Fine Motor Practice
Acorns are small and so little fingers must practice the pincer grasp when picking them up. Along with several common household items, they also provide ample opportunity for activities that include sorting, and dropping through slots.
If you like your fine motor activities to be seasonal-themed, then these are the perfect ideas for fall!
We brought the acorns home and of course the first thing we had to do was wash them, which was also a fun sensory experience. They were collected from an urban sidewalk after all and we have all kinds of nature in the city.
Washing them proved to be very entertaining for my son and he spent lots of time swishing them around in a small tub of water, spooning them out and making up stories about tugboats.
I'm not surprised washing acorns was so much fun, given the timeless popularity of a simple bubble car wash activity.
I got out the ice cube tray. The small sections were great for sorting acorns. Sometimes he used a spoon to place them in the cube sections, other times he used his pincer grasp and picked them up.
He thought it was fun to see how many he could fit in each section before they started spilling out. Try using acorns in one of our many ideas for sorting activities.
Since acorns are small, they fit through a variety of openings. First he tried dropping them down a cardboard roll.
He giggled as he aimed them into the cups of a muffin tin. We used muffin tins for fine motor practice with pom poms, too.
Next he poked the acorns through holes cut into the top of a yogurt container (you may recognize that container from the ever popular "playing the slots" activity we've done in the past).
All that directed fine motor activity was well and good, but I think his favorite way to play was using his toy trucks and trains to run an acorn delivery service for the neighborhood squirrels. Fine motor practice and imaginative play, what could be more wonderful?
We'll have to add "acorn delivery service" to the list of 20 ways to play with toy cars.
Acorns. Who knew they could be so enthralling?
By the way, acorns aren't the only excellent fine motor manipulative from nature. Try making pomanders with kids for fine motor practice. It smells good, too!
Idea originally published 2012, updated 2023.