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For people with Down syndrome, family members, caregivers and professionals.

Daily Tasks to Improve Fine Motor Skills

May 2022 | Monica Prindiville, OTS and Katie Frank, PhD, OTR/L - Occupational Therapy Student and Occupational Therapist

We use fine motor skills for many tasks throughout the day - any task involving use of the small muscles in our hands and wrists. A few examples of activities we do every day that require fine motor skills are writing, typing, eating with utensils, and getting dressed.

Individuals with Down syndrome often experience difficulty with fine motor skills. Fortunately, there are many ways to work on improving fine motor skills at home. You are likely already doing activities every day without even realizing it that provide opportunities for built-in fine motor practice. Below is a list of everyday activities that target fine motor skills. Taking opportunities to complete these tasks can help individuals with Down syndrome improve their fine motor skills over time, making it easier to complete daily activities with greater independence.

In the kitchen

  • Open and close food containers and food storage containers such as glass or plastic jars, condiment bottles, Ziploc bags, Tupperware, etc.

  • Use a manual can opener.

  • Pull utensils/flatware from a dishrack, sort, and put them into a tray for organizing utensils. 

Utensils in organizer tray
Image from Pixabay
  • Use kitchen shears/scissors to trim vegetables or other foods. 

  • Sort beans, peas, lentils, etc. when prepping meals. 

  • Remove toast from the toaster using toast tongs. 

  • Roll dough, use cookie cutters, or decorate with icing when baking.

  • Pick up and eat finger foods such as carrots, celery, grapes, pretzels, etc.

  • Serve food using tongs.

  • Make fruit, cheese, meat, and/or vegetable kebabs for a meal or snack.

Plate with vegetable kebabs and ranch dressing
Image from Food Network
  • Use chip clips or twist ties to seal food packages.


Doing household chores

  • Hang clothes to dry using clothespins or hang dry clothes on hangers.

  • Fold clothes.

  • Spray cleaning spray with one hand and wipe using a cloth with the other hand. 

Spray bottle, sponge, and orange rubber gloves for cleaning
Image from Pixabay
  • Squeeze sponges or washcloths when cleaning.

  • Scoop food for a pet.

  • Organize small items in drawers.

  • Sort and organize jewelry.

  • Sort pills into a pill organizer.

Weekly pill box with two compartments per day
Image from Pixabay
  • Fasten nuts and bolts using a wrench or use a screwdriver to tighten/loosen screws.

  • Use a key to lock/unlock a door or drawer.

  • Garden or plant flowers using garden tools,


Getting ready for the day

  • Fasten buttons and zippers.

Jeans with button and zipper
Image from Pixabay
  • Fasten a bra.

  • Put on a belt.

Brown belt with silver buckle
Image from Pixabay
  • Tie shoes.

  • Paint your nails or apply makeup.

  • Braid or style your hair.


Additional Resources

Videos on Completing Activities of Daily Living

Fun Activities to Improve Fine Motor Skills

Find More Resources

We offer a variety of resources for people with Down syndrome, their families and caregivers and the professionals who care for and work with them. Search our collection of articles, webinars, videos, and other educational materials.

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Please note: The information on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for a medical, psychiatric, mental health, or behavioral evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment plan by a qualified professional. We recommend you review the educational material with your health providers regarding the specifics of your health care needs.