Fine Motorskills milestones : Ages 3-5

Fine Motor Skills Milestones: Ages 3-5

Preschooler child playing with colorful toy blocks. Kids play with educational wooden toys at kindergarten or day care. Preschool children build tower with wood block. Toddler kid in nursery.

Samantha Rothman, MS, OTR/L

February 5, 2023


What are Fine Motor Skills?


Typically, we think of fine motor skills as the use of the smaller muscles in the hands, manipulating objects with the hands, handwriting, coloring, etc. However, sometimes fine motor skills also include visual skills- often referred to as hand-eye coordination. We need all of these skills working together to be able to successfully complete our day to day tasks including buttoning pants, opening a toothpaste tube, typing on a computer, putting on earrings, or writing a note. 


In children, we often assess their fine motor skills by observing pre-writing or handwriting abilities (in school-aged kids), opening snacks, completing buttons or zippers on clothing, using scissors, or how they play with toys. 

*It is important to mention that this checklist should be used only as a reference. All children develop at a different pace. However, in general, the following skills are mastered by 3-5 years of age. 


3 years old 

  • Draw a circle after receiving a model
  • Copies pre-writing strokes (lines and circles)
  • Unbutton large buttons
  • String ½ inch of beads 
  • Snips paper with scissors
  • Sorts objects
  • Holds crayons between index/ thumb
  • Completes insert puzzle 

4 years old 

  • Builds tower of 9 blocks 
  • Copying blocks of design of 6 blocks 
  • Opening things
  • Trace on thick lines 
  • Using 1 hand consistently 
  • Copy circles/cross
  • Using non-dominant hand to stabilize 
  • Cuts roughly around pictures
  • 4-6 interlocking puzzle pieces
  • Dressing independently (except small buttons or shoe laces)

5 years 

  • Cuts along line continuously
  • Copies 9 block modules
  • Designs own models 
  •  Using tripod grip on pencil
  • Colors inside lines
  • Colors an entire picture
  • Writes name
  • Tracing on line with control 
  • Copies numbers 1-5
  • Copies letters
  • 8-12 piece puzzles


If your child is regularly missing developmental milestones, occupational therapy can provide the necessary support to help address these challenges. We provide comprehensive evaluations to determine any barriers including cognition, strength, vision, sensory integration, balance, coordination, and social-emotional skills. We provide activities that are engaging and motivating to the varying abilities of each individual child, as well as providing parent education, to help the child/family succeed with their therapy goals. 

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