Pumpkin Drop is just one of many fun autumn fine motor activities perfect for toddlers and preschoolers who need encouragement and practice using the pincher grasp. Add this easy fine motor activity to your fall preschool lesson plans this season.
The Easiest Fall Fine Motor Activity
I love everything about autumn. I love how the sun feels different. It’s still warm during the days, but the mornings are brisk. I love the changing colors of the leaves, the sounds they make as you walk through them, and I love how the earth brings on a kind of musky smell. Of dirt and thing drying out.
I love that we stop eating healthy and light and start eating hearty, stick-to-your-ribs dishes full of squash and beans. And pumpkins, and caramel, and crisp apples off the tree and walnuts. And all of them together, even.
There is a subtle joy that comes with sending my kids back to school, mostly because I adore those cute faces so much more when they arrive home each afternoon.
But they love autumn, too, and are simply fascinated by the changing earth as they relish the last of the warm days before winter finally approaches.
They love the hay bail tractor rides, jumping in (and even raking) leaves, and carving pumpkins. They love the gourds and Indian corn like in this fall science center, and the smell of cinnamon in their morning oatmeal. They, too, enjoy all the wonderful things fall has to offer us.
So, yes, it is just barely September, but can you blame me?
In my house, we wish for this season to last as long as possible, even if September here is still basically summer. So maybe we start celebrating a little early and continue a little late because we do love it so.
And, yes, that means we start our autumn themed activities a little earlier than most, too. Get my full list of autumn theme preschool activities here.
FAQ About Developing Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor practice activities are an important part of toddler and preschool development because fine motor skills are essential to most daily activities such as feeding and dressing oneself. Fine motor activities help kids with hand-eye coordination, hand strength and finger control, which are important skills for learning to write.
Practicing fine motor skills does not need to be complicated. Some easy activities such as play dough, painting, sponging, threading beads or buttons, simple sewing, water and sensory play are all great low-prep fine motor activities. These ideas are not only fun for toddlers and preschoolers but also great at hand strengthening and coordination.
Invite your toddler to help you turn the pages of a book as you read or place loose cereal on the table for him/her to pick up with their pincer grasp. Utilize playdough to naturally strengthen the arches of the hands and invite toddlers to roll, shape, pinch, and squeeze the playdough as they enjoy.
Pumpkin Drop – an Autumn Fine Motor Activity
As a teacher, I also love all the fun manipulatives that can be found around fall. The acrylic pumpkins in this activity never get old, especially since they make the most delightful sound as they clink into the bottom of the glass jar. It’s like a fine motor activity and a sensory activity all rolled into one.
You can use another fine motor manipulative like pom poms, but they don’t offer such a delightful sound when being dropped into the milk jar.
- glass jar with a narrow opening (I like these glass milk jugs)
- acrylic pumpkins or acrylic acorns
- jumbo tweezers (optional)
The Set Up
Place the milk jar and tweezers on a tray. I just poured out the acrylic pumpkins on the tray (I love these food trays to keep preschool messes contained), but you can put them in a bowl is you’d rather.
Invite your preschoolers to join you in this easy preschool pumpkin activity!
Autumn Fine Motor Activity
This is such a fun activity to add to your preschool pumpkin theme. While it stands as primarily a fine motor activity that works the small muscles in the hand and fingers, you can read all the ways I turn it into other learning activities at the end of this post.
The concept is simple.
The preschooler or toddler simply uses the jumbo tweezers to drop the acrylic pumpkins in the glass milk jugs.
Using the tweezers will really work your preschooler’s hand strength and fine motor skills.
Picking up the acrylic pumpkins takes quite a bit of dexterity and coordination, and my three year old found it too difficult, although for my kindergartener it was just the right amount of challenge. Using the jumbo tweezers will help develop hand-strength though, which is so important in writing development.
Instead, my younger son opted to use his hands to drop the pumpkins into the jar, which was ok since it encouraged him to use his pincher grasp, which is needed for a mature pencil grip.
This activity was great for my toddler as well.
Please be responsible and never leave your child unsupervised while playing with loose parts like in this pumpkin fine motor activity.
While my toddler, who is not yet two, wasn’t interested in attempting the pincher grasp for this activity, it still allowed him to practice hand-eye coordination as he drops the pumpkins into the jar.
There wasn’t anything he didn’t love about this. “I some, Mommy?” he kept asking while he tried to patiently wait for his brother’s turn to end. Then, “Pum-in, Mommy!” (“Pumpkin, Mommy”)
Picture Books About Pumpkins
Amp up this fun pumpkin activity with picture books all about pumpkins! Your preschoolers will soon want to learn everything pumpkin related! These are some of our favorite children’s books to go along with our pumkin preschool theme.
Why You Should Add This To Your Pumpkin Preschool Theme
What worked best about this activity is that, well, it was fall themed, and we have established how much my house adores all things autumn. (Have you seen these other printable autumn activities yet?)
But, second, this is a fine motor activity that is great for a range of ages. My daughter, who is five, benefitted by using the tweezers, which are designed to strengthen her hands. My preschooler, who just turned three, practiced his pincher grasp, and my toddler, not yet two, practiced hand-eye coordination.
Once the jar was filled to the brim, the kids experienced yet another challenge. How to very delicately pile the acrylic pumpkins on top of one another without them spilling over.
But can I just say how pretty the glass milk jar looks filled with the acrylic pumpkins? So very festive. And for someone who loves autumn as much as I do, I love sharing that enthusiasm with my kids in their play activities.
Variations on This Pumpkin Activity
Why stop at one amazing fine motor activity when you can turn this concept into so many other activities to be used in your fall preschool themes?! Try some of these ideas:
- After the jars are filled to the top, invite your preschoolers to pour the pumpkins into a sensory bin and listen to the sound the pumpkins make as they fall into the bin. Talk about those sounds.
- Add some dice and have your preschoolers roll and count the number of pumpkins to be added at any given time.
- Have a race between tow preschoolers to see who can fill their jar first.
- Offer different sized jars and get your preschoolers talking about their differences. Do all the jars hold the same amount of pumpkins?
- Try this activity with any fall themed manipulative and see if the same number of items will fit into the jar.
Kids will love this fun fall activity. It’s just playful enough that they will be working on their fine motor practice. Fine motor work is critical to scissor skills and prewriting, as well as developing the pincer grasp. The best early childhood activities are playful like this one, but still offer valuable learning.
Halloween Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers
Don’t forget Halloween activities for kids. Pumpkin activities tie in nicely with a Halloween preschool theme. Here is a fall craft and another fine motor activity for Halloween.
Try Other Fall Manipulatives
Related Fall Printables for Preshoolers
Try These Printable Preschool Centers This Fall
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.