Sample Games
to Develop
Visual & Fine Motor Control

1.  JOKER - Use regular playing cards, and play like Old Maid.  The Joker takes the place of the Old Maid.  Deal out all the cards.  Players look at the cards they received, and place any pairs face up in front of them.  The object of the game is to get rid of all your cards and not be caught at the end holding the Joker.  Players in turn take one card from the player on his or her left.  Any resulting pairs are placed on the table.  This continues until one player gets rid of all his cards and goes out of the game.  Players count their pairs.  That's their score for the game.  The player caught holding the Joker can't count any of his pairs, so he automatically scores zero.  Play three or four games.  Player earning the most points wins.


2.  WATER GUNS - Plastic water guns (squirt guns) can provide many hours of excellent visual and fine motor activity.  The player is constantly squeezing the trigger and aiming at targets near and far.  Even filling the water gun with water is good visual motor practice.


3.  BUILDING BLOCKS - Wooden building blocks are extremely popular with children because they can be played with in so many different ways.  Not only can a virtually unlimited number of structures be built, but blocks can become anything during pretend play.  With the magic of a child's imagination, a block can easily become a car, an airplane, an elephant, a baby, a boat, an island, or whatever the player needs for creative play.  Whole cities and worlds quickly appear and are rearranged until play is over and the blocks are returned once again to their storage box.


4.  ROPE UNTYING - Each player is given a soft rope and equal amount of time to tie knots in it.  The ropes are then exchanged and the first player to untie his rope wins.


5.  LINCOLN LOGS - There are a variety of commercial construction sets available today that could prove valuable in helping develop a player's visual and fine motor skills.  Some of the more popular ones are Lincoln Logs, bricks, Tinker Toys, and Lego.  Player could make his own creations or could follow the plans for particular constructions included with the sets.


6.  SIMPLIFIED PING-PONG - Use regular ping-pong ball and paddles.  Ping-pong is an excellent visual and fine motor game.  Look up the regular rules in an encyclopedia or reference book.  Here is a simplified version of ping-pong for beginners or young players.

A. Winner is the first player to reach the score of 21.

B. The server is the one who lost the preceding point.

C. Net ball is a take-over-again.

D. The server strikes the ball so it hits the table on his side of the net and bounces over the net to hit the table on the other side.  Players could agree to rule that the ball does not need to bounce on the server's side first.

E. No slamming the ball.

F. A point is scored every time the ball fails to bounce once on the opponent's side.

(1) Server scores point if opponent does not return ball on one bounce.

(2) Opponent scores point if server fails to hit ball so it bounces once on the opponent's side.  (Misses table completely.)


7.  HOUSE OF CARDS - Using regular playing cards, see who can use the most cards to build a house that stands.  You may use as many cards as you want, and stop building whenever you want, but each card used counts as a point.  If your house falls, you're out.  Player who uses the most cards and whose house stands at least 15 seconds wins.


8.  CAREFUL CARD TAKEAWAY - Use a regular deck of playing cards.  Spread the cards face down so cards overlap each other and make a fairly level ground.  Take five cards and make a house on the center of the ground of cards.  Different types of houses are possible.  The simplest is to learn two cards against each other like a tent, place a card against each of the open sides, and then set one flat on the top.  Players take turns trying to remove a card from the ground without causing the house to fall down.  It takes great care to do it successfully.  Players continue removing cards until one player loses by having the house fall.


9.  JACKS - You need a small ball and six jacks.  Throw the jacks on the floor.  From a kneeling or sitting position, player throws the ball up (about ten inches) and with the same hand picks up one jack, without moving the others, before the ball bounces more than once.  Do the same for the other jacks.  This is called onesies.  Next, try to pick up two jacks at a time.  This is called twosies.  Guess what picking up three at a time is called?  Try to get up to sixies.  You might even use ten jacks and get up to tensies.


10.  TOWER - Gather an assortment of small objects and irregularly shaped blocks of wood.  Players take turns trying to balance a new object on an ever growing tower without it falling over.  Player causing the tower to fall loses.  A variation would involve a cooperative effort by two or more players to see how high a tower they could build.  Measure it.  Later, try to build an even higher one.


11.  FAN HOCKEY - A light object, such as a button or ping pong ball is used in this game.  The object is placed in the center of the room or playing area.  Two players, each with a section of newspaper, face each other.  At the starting signal, each player tries to fan the object to their opponent's goal.  First player to score 5 goals wins the game.


12.  BLINDFOLD CAN TOWERS - Two or more players are blindfolded.  A number of cans are placed on the floor around the room.  Each player is assigned a chair (or some other place) to use as a base.  The object of the game is to be first to build a tower five (or some other selected number) cans high at your base.  Player is not allowed to find and bring back to his tower more than one can at a time.  If his tower falls over, he must rebuild it before going for more cans.


13.  BLINDFOLD PICKUP - Buttons of various sizes, or pennies, are scattered on the floor.  Players are blindfolded and try to pick up as many buttons as they can before time is called.  Player having the most buttons (or pennies) wins.


14.  DRAWING IN THE DARK - Each player is given a sheet of paper and a pencil or crayon.  The lights are then turned out, or players close their eyes) and each player tries to draw a picture.  The lights are then turned on and everyone can enjoy the results.  Variations include giving specific directions as to what to draw.  For example: "Draw a house.  Put curtains in the windows and a chimney on top.  Draw a tree by the house. "


15.  CHECKER SHUFFLEBOARD - Draw a shuffleboard design on a sheet of paper.  Write in points for each space.  Tape the paper to the floor or one end of the kitchen table.  One player uses five red checkers, the other player five black ones.  Players take turns sliding a checker across the table or floor onto the playing sheet.  If the checker lands on a number space, the player gets that many points.  Otherwise, he or she scores a zero for that try.  Player with the most points after all checkers have been played wins.


16.  NICKEL CARD TRICK - Use a playing card and a nickel.  With the palm up and fingers spread slightly apart, balance the card on the index finger of one hand.  If you're right handed, balance it on your left index finger.  If left-handed, balance it on your right one.  Place a nickel on top of the card directly over the first joint.  The nickel will easily balance this way.  Tell your audience you are going to remove the card without touching the nickel or letting it fall.  Here's how.  Use the longest finger and thumb of your other hand to flick against the edge of the card.  The card will shoot out leaving the nickel on your finger.  It takes adults 15 minutes to learn the trick.  Young players learn it faster.


17.  LEAF RUBBING - Find leaves of different shapes and sizes.  Place a sheet of paper over the leaf and rub the side of one or more crayons over it to make a colorful design.  Move the paper and do it again and you will have a whole page of leaf rubbings.  Maybe pretty enough to frame.


18.  PENNY SPIN - Each player spins a penny by snapping it with the index finger of one hand as he stands it on its edge and holds it with the index finger of his other hand.  Have a contest.  See whose penny spins the longest.  First player to win ten times wins the game.


19.  ROCK ART - Find interestingly shaped rocks.  Paint and glue them together to make faces, animals, cars, houses, castles, or anything else your imagination comes up with.  This can be a fun hobby for the whole family.  Make displays for other people to enjoy.


20.  HOLE-IN-ONE MARBLES - Dig six small holes in the ground.  Each player has a different colored marble.  Establish a starting place. Players take turns trying to shoot their marbles into the holes in the correct order.  A player has one shot to get it in one of the holes.  If he succeeds, he gets another turn.  If not, it is the next player's turn.  A player's next shot is from the place where his marble stopped on his last turn.  First player to get his marble in all six holes wins.  You can make the game more challenging by increasing the distances between the holes or putting the holes on top of small hills, right next to cliffs, or behind or between obstacles.


21.  DON'T STEP ON THE CRACKS - This is a game that can be played on sidewalks, or possibly in the house if there are appropriate lines or designs on the linoleum floor.  The object of the game is to walk without stepping on the lines.  Cracks and lines are poison.  If you stop on one you are out.  Variations would be to have games of chase where both pursuer and pursued would have to be very careful not to step on cracks.  In this case, a referee should be appointed to judge when a crack has been officially stepped on, and to warn against any possible dangers if players become so involved in watching for cracks they neglect to watch what they might be running into.  The game could also be played as a race toward a certain goal or finishing line.  It could also be just an enjoyable activity as you walk to school or the store.


22.  BLOWING AND CATCHING BUBBLES - The object of this game is to catch the soap bubbles with the bubble wand without the bubble popping.  This requires quite delicate movements.


23.  PING-PONG HOCKEY WITH FANS - Cardboard boxes are placed on their sides to act as goals.  The game may be played by any number of players or teams as long as each has a goal box to defend.  Defenders are not allowed to block a shot with their bodies.  To start the game, a ping-pong ball is placed at an equal distance from all of the goals.  Players may move the ping-pong ball only by wind power created by fanning the ball with folded newspapers.  The ball itself may not be touched.  The object of the game is to fan the ball into one of your opponent's goals.  One point is scored every time you are able to do this.  Of course, you have the equally challenging job of keeping your opponents from fanning the ball into your goal.  As you can well imagine, there is going to be quite a scramble on the floor to get into good fanning positions.

24.  PIG TO THE MARKET - Each player creates a pig or some other animal out of a potato, using macaroni, small sticks, etc.  When the animals are ready they are lined up facing toward the goal line.  Each player uses a long stick to push his animal.  He may not touch his animal with his hands, even if it starts going in the wrong direction.  First pig to cross the goal line wins.  Play cars could also be used.

25.  LIFESAVER RELAY RACE - After dividing into teams, each player is given a toothpick.  The object of the game is to see which team can transfer a lifesaver from one person to the other using their toothpicks, and not touching the lifesaver with their hands.  The game can be made more challenging by increasing the number of lifesavers to be passed.


26.  HEADS 'N TAILS - Put seven pennies heads up in a circle.  Starting with any heads-up coin, count three to the right and turn that coin over to tails.  Always moving from a heads-up coin, move three spaces until you have only one head showing.  That means you win.  Players can enjoy many attempts to solve the puzzle, and as they do so they will also be working on the fine motor control of turning the pennies over.  Later, you might reveal the solution.


Always start with a coin 2 back from you coin you previously started on, like this:

Start with coin 1, turn over coin 3
Go back to coin 6, turn over coin 1
Go back to coin 4, turn over coin 6
Go back to coin 2, turn over coin 4
Go back to coin 7, turn over coin 2
Go back to coin 5, turn over coin 7


27.  FINE MOTOR RACES - Set up interesting races or contests involving fine motor control.  Players might race to place a certain number of clothespins on a line, place and tighten a certain number of nuts on bolts, tie and untie shoelaces a certain number of times, hook a certain number of paper clips into a chain, or sort and stack a certain quantity of coins.

28.  FLASHLIGHT TAG - A good game to play outside in the dark.  Each player has a flashlight.  Players, after hiding, start to search for each other.  Anyone caught in a beam of light is out of the game.  Last player still in the game wins.

29.  CARD MATCH - Use a regular deck of playing cards.  Dealer shuffles the deck and then starts placing the cards face up in a row.  Each succeeding card should be about two inches to the right of the previous card.  Whenever a player sees that the card just placed is the same (other than suit) as one of the cards already placed face up, slaps it.  Player slapping it first wins both cards.  Dealer then places a new card in the vacant space and the game continues.  If a player slaps a card incorrectly (no match), he must give one of his previously won cards to each of the other players.  Player winning the most cards by the time the entire deck is dealt wins.


30.  PENNY FOOTBALL - Draw a football field on a large sheet of paper.  Include goal lines, extra-point circles, yard lines, fumble areas, and interception areas. 


A. One player is heads and the other player is tails.

B. Flip the coin to see who starts.

C. Offensive player places the coin (his side up) on the extra-point circle.

D. Players have four offensive downs and then the other player has his turn on offense.

E. A down consists of flipping the coin with one finger.

F. If a coin goes past the goal section, no points are scored and the other player takes over starting at his own 20.

G. Coin in the goal section earns 6 points.  An extra point can be earned by flipping the coin from the 20 into the extra-point circle.

H. Coin in the interception areas means the other player takes over.

I. Coin in the fumble areas means coin is to be flipped to see who recovers.

J. Coin is said to be in an area if more than half the coin is within the area.



Small muscle development takes time, so include as many regular opportunities for development as you can each day.  Many responsibilities around the home could offer such practice, such as dusting, washing and drying dishes, setting the table, sweeping, picking up, making beds, cleaning counters, etc.  Other possibilities include:

A combination lock for his or her toy chest.
A jar to save money in with a lid that twists.

When a certain number of pennies are saved it could be used to go to the movies, buy a desired toy, or go out for a hamburger and milkshake.  This would mean frequently counting the coins, which is a good fine motor activity in itself.

32.  MARBLE SHOOTOUT - Two or more players.  Draw a large circle on the ground at least three feet in diameter, then a smaller circle about 6 inches in diameter inside it.  Place any number of marbles inside the smaller circle.  Each player shoots a marble from outside the larger circle and tries to hit as many marbles as possible so they end up outside the large circle.  If successful, he wins all those marbles and shoots again from wherever his original marble stops.  He continues until he fails to shoot any marbles so they land outside the big circle.  Then, it is the next player's turn.  Play until time is called or all the marbles have been won.  Player with the most marbles wins.