fall pumpkins and apples fine motor games and sensory play

Simple Play To Encourage Fine Motor, Visual Processing, And Counting Skills!

This past week, I created three different games for us to play together (or even independently) to work on various fine motor skills, critical thinking skills and visual discrimination skills. Helping Liam take the time to slow down and look at what he is doing and try just a little harder and longer is a constant goal for us here. I try to make it fun and different as often as possible so that he can put his own creativity and personality into it.  I enjoyed it with him and yes, we took turns and made them into games!

Activity #1: Creating Pumpkins & Apples based on visual cue cards.

simple pumpkins play dough set up

I whipped up a batch of orange and red play dough for the apples and pumpkins. I used wire cutters to snip pipe cleaners for stems and I gathered our plastic green leaves from the apples and leaves set I purchased from Michaels. (I do enjoy finding lots of uses for my purchases!) I then drew simple pictures of apples and pumpkins with a variety of leaf and stem patterns.

simple pumpkins and apples play dough

The goal for this activity (game) was to pick a card, roll a play dough ball from the corresponding color, and replicate the leaf and stem pattern pictured. Great hand muscle work and fine motor skills work rolling play dough balls. It was also a great opportunity to look thoroughly at a picture and copy it! I thought the results were beautiful too and we even did some free play at then end. It was nice to use this activity with both structure and free play to show him that we can do both styles with the same activity!

simple apples and pumpkins play dough


Activity #2 Tonging red and green apples to match cards.

simple pumpkins and apples red and green activity set up finish

I  used a mini muffin tin, the green and red plastic apples from the same set as above (separated into two bowls), and a pair of tongs. I made game cards out of index cards by writing a number up top and then drawing how many apples of each color I wanted him to tong into a single muffin tin. Lots of fine motor skills work here!

simple pumpkins and apples red and green activity

I asked him to tell me the number and count the apples and then  choose the correct number of red and the correct number of green. Lots of playing attention needed to tong the apples and chose the correct amount. Often we recounted a card to make sure we had the right combination of green and red apples.

Activity #3: Tonging “pumpkins” and counting pips on the dice

Again making it a game with dice is always more fun. I found this great pumpkin tray at the dollar store and used orange glass gems for pumpkins! We took turn rolling the dice and tonging the correct number of gems into each unit. He always helps me count mine! I did add more dice to this one for a greater challenge since it seemed a little too easy. If he was willing to do it independently I might have left it with the one but since he wanted me to sit with him, we went for two dice. This is a great way to take transferring and fine motor skills work to the next level if you have an older child who still needs to work on developmental skills but needs an additional challenge to remain interested!


Tip: Do you make up quick fun games for your kids using  odds and ends from around the house? We can easily have a new game by varying the trays, tongs, objects, or type of dice! Add a spinner from a board game or some homemade game cards. You can make it as simple or as challenging as your child needs with small changes! Learn with play. It’s a lot of fun!




  1. As much as I have tried to create different fun activities for my son (21 months) he just doesn’t seem interested for more than a couple of minutes. Perhaps just the age, but I can’t wait for when he enjoys it! Love these ideas.

  2. I love your playdough activity. What a great idea to have cards he had to match with stems and leaves. I definitely want to think of a way to incorporate that into our tot trays. It’s such a great learning activity!

  3. Great playdough idea! My 3 1/2 year old, my 5 1/2 year old, and my 15 month old (boys) all loved the pipe cleaners, leaves and matching idea (although the 15 month old just stuck the leaves in the playdough all over and squished and rolled the dough.) I’m always excited to try something a little different with the playdough and having a specific task to follow is a nice twist. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thank you for sharing your fun apple and pumpkin activities. This is such a fun activity! Thank you for sharing and for linking up this week to the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop 🙂

  5. I love that you had him copy the picture and do free play as both are so important! This activity would work well for my boys who are on different levels because I could easily let them do the same activity with a different learning goal. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks Jackie, I try to give myself a few options in case one idea doesn’t work out! He needs to work on specific things so I use the free play as a motivator to get our work done! You are right so great for different levels to work together!

  7. This definitely looks like so much fun! I know my girls would surely enjoy these activities! Thank you for linking up to Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop last week! You were chosen as one of my favorites to be featured 🙂

  8. These ideas are wonderful! I love the gorgeous apples and leaves. I am featuring this as one of our best Halloween Literacy Activities on the Weekly Kids Co-Op this week over at Triple T Mum!

  9. Hi! Where did you find the apple counters? (PS: Target has pumpkin shaped “table scatter” that looks like those apples in their One Spot. They’re nice and plastic.)

  10. The apple counters are from Michaels Craft Store. They come with leaves. I do have a package of the table scatter from target for another project 😉 Love these apples though!

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