20 + Small Manipulatives for Fine Motor

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When looking in my therapy bag, there are a few things that I always have with me. For higher level fine motor work, I always like to have small little manipulatives and some Training Chopsticks. I have posted about these items before, but they really are a great go to item that works on the skills that I want to work on.


You can use almost any item as a small manipulative, and can use any tool in place of the chopsticks (as well as just using the fingers on their own).

Manipulative ideas:

  • Squinkies
  • Zinkies
  • Pom poms
  • Erasers
  • Rocks
  • Blocks
  • Legos
  • Counting bears
  • Play dough
  • Cut up straws
  • Pieces of pipe cleaner
  • Cereal
  • M & M s
  • q-tips
  • cotton balls
  • buttons
  • decorative glass marbles
  • marbles
  • beads
  • dry pasta
  • fun foam shapes magnet
  • balls

I like to use the training chopsticks with kids that need to work on higher level fine motor skills, but with kids that don’t need that added level of difficulty, they could use their fingers with the manipulatives, or use another tool.

Tools to use with the manipulatives:

  • Chopsticks
  • Tweezers
  • Strawberry huller
  • Finger tongs
  • Clothespins
  • Spoon

You can use many containers to place the manipulatives into, such as recycled butter tubs.

Containers for manipulatives:

  • Butter tub
  • Sour cream tub
  • Coffee creamer container
  • Muffin tin
  • Muffin cups
  • Parmesan cheese container
  • Ice cube tray
  • Bowl
  • Munchy Ball (tennis ball head)
  • Egg carton

Check out more posts about chopsticks and tongs


Looking to find printable activities? You can find them in the community shop

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Tonya is a pediatric Occupational Therapist, and loves creating things to work on skills and solve problems.

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