How to Test Motor Skills

By Suzanne Hodgson

Motor skills are combined sequences of movements that produce an action to master a task. There are two types of motor skills: gross and fine. Gross motor skills deal with larger movements of arms, legs or using the entire body in a movement, like dancing. Fine motor skills deal with smaller movements, like twisting a cap on a jar. Most development occurs during childhood, and if not properly developed, a lack of motor skills can impede a person for the rest of his life.

List of Items Needed

  • Marbles
  • Beads
  • Blocks
  • Jar
  • Nut
  • Bolt
  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Ball

    Fine Motor Skills

  1. Lay a variety of small objects of different shapes and sizes on the ground, such as marbles and blocks. See if the child can pick up the objects one at a time and place them into a jar.

  2. Have the child pick up both the nut and bolt, which will also test her ability to pick up small objects of different sizes. Have her try to screw the nut and bolt together.

  3. Turn the child's hand so the palm is facing up. Starting with the pinky, have the child tap the pinky to the thumb and count "1," then tap the ring finger to the thumb and count "2," and so on until he reaches the pointer finger and the number "4." Now have him count backward, starting with counting "4" and tapping the pointer finger to the thumb. Go down the line until he reaches the pinky and count "1" again. Repeat.

  4. Draw a simple outline on a piece of paper, like tracing the outside of a hand. Ask the child to cut the outline to see how close she can come to following the outline.

    Gross Motor Skills

  1. Have the child pretend he is walking on a tightrope; this can either be the edge of the sidewalk, a low beam or even a piece of tape that runs down the middle of the carpet. Have the child walk across the "tightrope," turn around and come back.

  2. Throw a large object -- like a kickball-size rubber ball, a Frisbee or a rubber ring -- back and forth with the child. Start close together and move further apart. To make it a game, try moving one pace apart for every ball she catches the ball and one closer together for every time she misses it.

  3. Have the child crawl up the stairs. As the child gets older, find different things for her to climb up. Many local playgrounds will have a small wall to climb or a piece of jungle gym equipment to climb. As they get older, encourage the child to climb short trees and small ladders, always under careful supervision.

Tips and Warnings

  • If a child fails at any of these tests, that does not necessarily mean he has problems. Try again in a few weeks and encourage him to practice.
  • If problems continue with motor skills and children aren't able to grasp small objects or have severe difficulty performing actions that many of their peers can do with ease, it may be time to consult a doctor.

© Demand Media 2011