3–4 years old: Fine motor skill development

3–4 years old: Fine motor skill development

You child’s fine motor skill development at 3–4 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: 3–4years old

At this age:

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.
  • Your child can build a tower 8–10 blocks high.
  • They can use scissors properly. For example, they can cut a strip of paper about 10 cm wide by moving the scissors in a forward motion.
  • They can hold a pencil between their thumb and forefinger, like a grown-up.
  • They can turn the pages of a book one at a time.
  • They can screw and unscrew a small lid.
  • They draw houses and figures consisting of two or four limbs attached to a head, though they don’t necessarily draw bodies.
By age 3, kids can start to get dressed partly on their own. This is a great opportunity to help them become more autonomous. (In French)
  • They can fasten large buttons.

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

  • Pour themself a drink from a partially filled pitcher.
  • Tie knots.
  • Zipper up their jacket.
  • Wash up with supervision.
  • Cut out and glue simple shapes (e.g., squares, circles).

How can you help your child progress?

Find out how to develop your child’s fine motor skills through books. (In French)

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 help develop your child’s fine motor skill.

When you encourage your child to draw their house and all the people in it,
they feel safe and understand their place in the family.
When you praise your child for being able to get dressed and undressed more independently,
they feel competent and are motivated to practise these skills with less and less help.
When you give your child the opportunity to help set the table,
they feel proud that they can carry things more easily and that they’ve been given a responsibility.
When you give your child a box of marbles and buttons to sort by colour or by shape in an egg carton,
they use their fine motor skills to sort them properly.
When you provide your child with a variety of arts and crafts materials for them to practise drawing, cutting, and gluing,
they get to practise picking things up between their thumb and forefinger while creating drawings and collages.
When you give your child dolls with outfits that include buttons, zippers, snaps, and laces,
your little one gets to play while practising the skills they need to dress themselves.
When you use pegboards, rulers, and other building materials to explore patterns, shapes, and sequences,
your child can visualize them more easily and create 3D shapes while learning to name them correctly.
When you give your child magazines and kids’ scissors so they can cut out their favourite images and make collages,
they learn to categorize images (e.g., people, animals, food, vehicles) while improving their cutting skills.
When you give your child a mini construction set or drawing materials that allow them to exercise their fine motor skills,
they learn that they can use their hands to express their thoughts and ideas by building or drawing.


Naître et grandir

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


Photo: GettyImages/Weekend Images Inc.



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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