Infant and toddler years are such HUGE years for fine motor development. My youngest is 15 months old and he has really been enjoying different types of fine motor activities lately. Specifically, he has been so focused on two different types of fine motor activities- peg work and posting work.
Peg activities and posting (placing an object in a hole, slot, or other kinds of opening) are important activities for developing visual motor planning skills. Posting activities specifically help with understanding object permanence (the idea that the object doesn’t just disappear for good when they drop it into a container). They also can help with fine motor coordination and hand strength as children often use a pincer grasp or the tripod grasp to pick up and place the objects. These skills are building blocks for writing and reading later on!
My youngest started developing an interest in peg and posting activities around 10 months, but I want to stress that this can happen at a wide range of ages! My 3-year-old still enjoys these same activities with his brother. You can follow your child’s developmental cues and activities you observe them doing naturally to see if they are at a place where they are strengthening these skills and would be interested in this work. For example, is your child…
- Grasping and picking up objects?
- Releasing objects intentionally?
- Using a pincer grasp to pick up objects?
- Putting objects into a container or basket, and then taking them back out?
- Following and tracking objects as they move with their eyes?
If so, then they may be ready for some peg and/or posting work activities! There are some great DIY activities for both of these options that we’ve tried at home, as well as toys and materials that encourage these fine motor skills.
DIY Peg Activities
Pegs/Golf Tees/Craft Sticks in Play Dough or Clay
This one can be reproduced so many ways! My oldest (3) tried it with clay, golf tees, and small dowels. My youngest (1) did it with play dough and larger wooden dowels I had from the craft store, but it could also be done with craft sticks, toothpicks, and sturdier straws. The clay adds a little more resistance to this activity for little hands with more muscle development. I’ve also seen variations of this using a block of foam instead of clay or play dough. So many great options for this peg work!
Straws onto Bottle Drying Rack
I loved that this DIY peg work was simple to put together and the perfect amount of challenge for my youngest when he was about 14 months! I unearthed my Boon Drying Rack from pump parts and repurposed it for some fine motor fun. With some old plastic straws added in, it was the perfect peg activity!
Pegs into Wooden Board
This one is not as simple to prepare, but the bit of extra effort was worth it. My oldest actually drilled the holes (with supervision) into this scrap wooden board my husband had. I sanded it a bit and then included some wooden pegs and dowels. A bit more challenging because it requires greater precision!
Crayons into Matching Spools
For this DIY peg work, I glued spools of thread (from an emergency mini sewing kit) to a small box lid. I set it out on a tray with crayons that matched the thread colors. My youngest just liked putting the crayons into the spools, but my oldest had the added challenge of matching the colors. This is a great activity to add adaptations to or for siblings to be able to play together!
Toys that Encourage Peg Work
Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog – This toy is perfect for developing this fine motor skill, and it also builds in more learning through play! The quills can be placed into the holes on the hedgehog’s back- peg work practice! It’s also a great opportunity to expose older toddlers and preschoolers to colors and numbers since the holes have numbers by each one. Bonus- the quills can be stored inside the hedgehog’s back!
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pounding Bench – We have a similar version of this pounding bench and it is a favorite for both of my boys! My youngest loved inserting the pegs into the holes on the bench around 12 months and they both loved pounding the pegs out again with the hammer!
DIY Posting Activities
Pom Poms in Wipes Container
I used pom-poms for this just because it’s what I had on hand, but I’ve seen many other possibilities for this! Food pouch lids work well too!
Craft Sticks or Straws in Plastic Bottle
This is the first posting activity I ever created for my oldest. He tried it around 12 months and gained confidence the more he worked with it. Dumping the sticks out at the end has been a favorite for both of my boys!
Paper Straws in Large Spice Container
I love that this DIY work offers three different levels based on fine motor development- 1. With the lid completely removed. 2- With the lid on the spice bottle and the large “pour” side of the lid opened. 3- With the lid on the spice bottle and the “sprinkle” side of the lid opened. The sprinkle holes are just large enough for the paper straws to go through. The large spice bottle is from Costco.
Marbles or Pebbles in a Box
For this one, I cut a hole in the top of a cardboard gift box and included some little glass pebbles from the craft store. Marbles, dry beans, or small rocks from outside would work well too! This is a great option for toddlers or preschoolers who are past the stage of mouthing small objects and are able to grasp tinier items.
Cardstock Cutouts into Oatmeal Container
This posting activity can be adapted to fit different themes and/or holidays! This was one of the first activities my youngest tried at around 10 months. I’ve also seen others cut a larger hole in the lid and include wooden blocks for infants to “post” or drop into the container.
Toys that Encourage Posting
Shape Sorter – This is a great option for children who are ready to move beyond more basic posting. It takes a lot of skill coordination- fine motor, visual scanning and planning, and problem-solving. This travel shape sorter would also be fun for a screen-free option to take out! My boys love our shape sorter.
Hoot the Fine Motor Owl– Another awesome fine motor toy from Learning Resources! Children can work on posting skills with this one as the coins get dropped into a slot on the owl. We don’t own this one, but it is very similar to the Montessori coin box that we have and it is very well rated!
My boys have enjoyed these peg and posting activities and toys through a range of ages. They are usually high-interest and are great for fine motor development and so much more! If you have little ones at home or at school who are showing interest in these kinds of activities, hopefully, you can try one out!