North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

Domain: NC Foundations for Early Learning: Health and Physical Development (HPD)

Subdomain: Motor Development

Goal: Children develop small muscle control and hand-eye coordination to manipulate objects and work with tools.

Skill Progression: Manipulation/Tool use

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List of Skills by Age

1-2 Months

No observable skills

2-4 Months

Opens and closes hand to “scratch” material or objects

4-6 Months

Hand carries object to mouth to suck both object and hand

Shakes objects, first with shoulder, then with shoulder and elbow

Retains one object in each hand

Bangs object on table

6-8 Months

Drops, throws, pushes, and pulls objects

Bangs objects together

Manipulates two objects at a time

8-10 Months

Tries to poke object with all fingers extended - may poke with thumb

Puts object into a container

Dumps objects out of container

Manipulates three small toys

10-12 Months

Combines two objects, for example puts one object on another

Pokes fingers into small holes and explores toys with index finger

Moves objects from fingers to palm

Imitates use of a tool (e.g., comb, stirring with spoon, etc.)

Places puzzle piece

Pulls string to get toy

Pushes cars, trucks, balls

12-15 Months

Uses tools such as a spoon, fork, comb, washcloth, etc.

15-18 Months

Small objects transferred from hand to hand, rather than palm to fingers

Increasing strength and differentiation of use of both sides of the hand allows use of tools, such as a mallet

Stacks small items

18-21 Months

Beginning to string large beads or put chips in a slot

Turns pages of a book

21-24 Months

Grasps crayon in palm and turns hand thumb up or down

Moves one or two objects from palm to fingers

24-27 Months

Lines up objects, such as blocks or dolls

27-30 Months

Makes random snips with scissors on paper with no forward movement of scissors

Stacks 8-10 small items

30-33 Months

Strings beads

Snips with scissors on a line across a 1” strip of heavy paper

33-36 Months

Manipulates clay to make a snake, small balls, a pancake

Completes simple puzzles (separate pieces or interlocking)

36-42 Months

Strings small beads

Uses scissors, snipping with alternating full-finger extension and flexion; holds paper and scissors in thumbs up position

42-48 Months

Rotates pencil or marker into writing position

Begins cutting on straight line with greater control, producing a smoother cut

48-54 Months

Begins to cut simple curves and angles

Puts key in lock and opens it

54-60 Months

Completes 10+ interlocking piece puzzles

Uses scissors to cut out shapes

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

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