4–5 years old: Fine motor skill development

4–5 years old: Fine motor skill development

Your child’s fine motor skill development at 4–5 years old. Follow your child’s milestones step by step.

Fine motor skill development allows babies to learn how to use the little muscles in their hands and fingers to perform subtle movements, such as reaching for, grabbing, and handling small objects.

Fine motor skill development: 4–5 years old

At this age:

  • Your child draws people with just a head, arms, and legs. Over time, they’ll start to include other details, such as a torso.
  • They can paint with large brushes on big sheets of paper.
Remember that not all children develop the same skills at the same speed. The material on this website is for general information purposes only. If you’re concerned about your child’s development, speak with a doctor.
  • They can handle and roll modelling clay.
  • They can cut straight lines and squares with more precision.
  • When they colour simple shapes, they’re better at staying within the lines.
  • They can write a few letters, though a little awkwardly.
  • They can use their fork to cut soft foods.

Over the next few months, your child will begin to do the following:

  • Carry a glass of water without spilling it.
  • Butter their bread with a knife.
  • Tie their shoelaces.
  • Fasten small buttons.
  • Cut out more complex shapes.
  • Write a few letters (usually those that spell their name).
Find out how to support your child’s fine motor skill development through books. (In French)

How can you help your child progress?

Every child is different and develops at their own pace. That said, you can help foster your child’s development by adopting the Comfort, Play, and Teach parenting approach, which can easily be integrated into your daily routine. The table below outlines small, age-specific actions you can take that will benefit your child’s fine motor skill development.

When you let your child use sieves, containers, and utensils of varying sizes to play with different materials, like water and sand,
they get to explore texture, which stimulates their sense of touch, and learn about volume.
When you and your child make modelling clay using fragrances (e.g., vanilla, mint) and food colouring,
your child develops their sense of smell and learns about combining colours.
When you keep pencils and chalk around for your child,
they get to practise drawing, colouring, and writing numbers and letters.
When you provide your child with a variety of arts and crafts materials, such as boxes, glue, ribbon, cardboard tubes, string, scissors, and adhesive tape,
they’re encouraged to use their imagination and fine motor skills to make their own creations.
When you play board games that require counting and moving pieces, such as Snakes and Ladders,
your child develops dexterity while gradually learning to count.
When you use dots to form the lowercase letters of your child’s name, and then ask them to connect the dots,
they learn to recognize and reproduce the shapes of these letters.


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Sonya Côté, occupational therapist
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: September 2019


Photo: GettyImages/eggeeggjiew



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  • Ferland, Francine. Le développement de l’enfant au quotidien : de 0 à 6 ans. 2nd ed., Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2018, 264 pp.
  • Canadian Paediatric Society. Caring for Kids. “Your child’s development: What to expect.” www.caringforkids.cps.ca
  • Université de Montréal. “Portail enfance et familles : Les étapes de développement de l’enfant de la naissance à l’adolescence.” www.portailenfance.ca