Hand-eye coordination is important for everyone to learn. It’s the ability to do things with your hands while guiding them with your eyes. Hand-eye coordination games for kids are great ways to develop this skill.
Your child’s hands and eyes work together to get things done all the time, even when you don’t realize it.
It starts at an early age and develops with time. Sometimes it needs to happen fast, like when they play sports, but other times it happens slower, like when your baby is learning to grasp objects.
Here are some examples of your child using hand-eye coordination on a daily basis at different stages of development:
- Babies grasping objects
- Kids tying shoelaces
- Hitting the baseball with a bat
- Writing with a pencil
- Brushing hair or teeth
- Pouring a cup of milk
Why Hand-Eye Coordination is Important
Almost everything in life requires hand-eye coordination. Simple tasks like making tea would be really difficult if you couldn’t pour boiling water in your cup.
You don’t just need this coordination to perform everyday tasks, either. You need it to play sports, read, and write.
As you read or write, your brain tracks the position of the words on the page or the pencil as it moves, which requires visual tracking skills. You need to be able to move your eyes and your hands from left to right at the same time in order to perform these functions.
It can help your child learn to catch a ball. As the ball comes toward them, they’ll be able to stop it with their hands or a glove before it hits them. That’s a valuable skill, not only for performing well in sports, but for protecting their body from injury.
Hand-eye coordination is also important in life skills like stacking blocks, tying shoelaces, frosting cakes, and a whole lot of other things that your child may want to learn to do on a daily basis to survive.
How to Help Improve Hand-Eye Coordination
Hand-eye coordination develops naturally as your child plays, and learning should always be fun at a young age. You can encourage your child’s development by encouraging play and providing a wide variety of toys and games that they can play with every day.
Make sure you offer these toys and games early so they can begin to work on this skill, because most of this learning happens before the age of four. Here are some ways you can help your child develop this skill and have fun at the same time.
They’re exercises that stimulate the hands and eyes at the same time, exercising their brain’s ability to coordinate the two. Just one of these activities for five minutes each day will impact your child’s development in a huge way.
Many of these activities are geared toward a certain age group, so pick what you think your child is capable of doing now. They don’t have to be good at it, they just have to be able to practice.
1. Pillow fights
Kids love free play. Making a pillow fight game is a great way to give them the freedom to play and be goofy with their bodies while still using their eyes to aim for something and their hands and arms to execute.
They’ll work hard at hand-eye coordination, but they’ll also need upper body strength to wield the pillow, core strength to swing the pillow, and lower body strength to stand firm on the bed or ground.
Plus, you’ll all have plenty of laughs at the same time.
2. Playing catch
One of the best ways to develop hand-eye coordination is playing catch. Depending on the age and ability of your child, you can choose the size and firmness of the ball. It’s a great skill to have when your child starts to play a sport.
You can alternate throwing with bouncing if you like. Mix it up with basketballs, tennis balls, beach balls, or anything else you have. The smaller the ball, the more skill it requires.
If you want your child to practice this way, but you need a break, you can encourage them to toss the ball against the wall. This is a fun experiment in learning how throwing the ball at the wall in different ways will result in it coming back in different ways.
3. Rolling balls
For very young children who can’t quite get the hang of catching yet, you can roll a ball back and forth to each other on the floor. It’s a low impact, low risk game that still requires them to follow the ball with their eyes and meet it with their hands.
However, if they miss it, they won’t get hurt. The ball will simply roll into their leg and stop. They also have to aim the ball at you and roll it back.
It’s easy to make your own bowling game at home. You can use a variety of different items you already have on hand. Save your empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls. Place them in formation on the hardwood or tile, and have your child roll a ball to see if they can knock them over.
Increase the difficulty by using a smaller ball, having them stand farther away, or placing the game on carpet instead.
You can also exercise their hand-eye coordination by having them stack the toilet paper rolls themself.
Another really fantastic activity to improve your child’s hand-eye coordination are puzzles. Not only does it require hand-eye coordination to put the pieces where they go, but your child will develop fine motor skills.
It also requires problem solving, attention, logic, and shape recognition, which is a pre-mathematical skill.
6. Sandbox games
Letting your child play games in the sandbox is a fantastic tactile experience. It engages the senses and gives them practice with hand-eye coordination by allowing them to fill a variety of containers with sand.
Give them buckets, shovels, rakes, and other sand toys of different sizes so that they can practice.
7. Jump rope
Whether it’s traditional jump rope, double dutch, or another jump rope game you made up yourself, these kinds of games can help your child develop really great coordination of all kinds.
Of course, they need hand-eye coordination to jump over the rope when it comes around. However, they also need bilateral coordination to be able to get both sides of their body to work together for jumping or alternating hopping on one leg.
8. Balloon toss
Pick any size balloon and have your child see how long they can keep it in the air by hitting it with their hands, head, knees, or feet. It’s up to them, and what they hit it with will likely depend on their level of hand-eye coordination.
It requires rapid movement and thinking while working with hands and eyes at the same time. You could also use a ball, but the stakes are a bit higher if you miss.
9. Bean bag toss
You can play all kinds of fun games with bean bags. If you don’t have a set already, you should get some. They help develop fine and gross motor skills and are fun to touch. Here are some fun ways you can use them to develop hand-eye coordination:
- Play catch
- Throw them up into the air and catch them (increase the difficulty by only using one hand)
- Toss them into a laundry hamper or trash can (increase the difficulty by moving farther away or using a smaller target)
- Toss them into a hoop
- Play hopscotch
10. Navigating around cones
Put cones in a line or a circle and then have your child weave in and out of the cones on foot or on their hands and knees. It takes hand-eye coordination to alternate weaving in and out of the cones without hitting them.
For older kids, you can increase the difficulty by having them dribble a ball in and out of the cones with their hands or feet, or by using a baseball bat.
11. Egg and spoon race
This game draws out a ton of laughter. It’s so simple, but it requires practising a really important skill. Please don’t forget to boil the egg before you do it or you’ll have a huge mess all over the floor.
Have your child hold the egg on the spoon while they race across the floor as quickly as they can without dropping it. You can increase the difficulty by setting a timer, using a smaller spoon, or carrying the spoon in your mouth.
12. Three legged race
Here’s another classic party game that involves a ton of hand-eye coordination as well as cooperation with your partner. Tie your children’s legs together and have them race across the yard! You’ll get a kick out of it.
Honestly, this is a great game to play after they’ve had a bit of a tiff. They have to work together to figure it out. Does that make me a bad parent? Don’t answer that.
Playing hopscotch requires hand-eye coordination in a ton of different ways. First, they have to toss their marker onto the right square. Then they have to coordinate which foot they’re going to use to hop and they have to hop into the correct squares, in the correct order.
When they make it to the end, they have to turn around and hop back. The game requires balance and concentration, as well as social skills and cooperation.
14. Finger painting
Finger painting is always the perfect opportunity to get messy. It’s a great sensory experience and it builds hand-eye coordination at the same time, as does any other art activity or game. Drawing, painting, writing, scribbling, and anything else your toddler or preschooler might want to do with art supplies is free game for developing this important skill.
Use other mediums like chalkboards and whiteboards as well. These larger surfaces exercise your child’s ability to work larger muscles in their arms to draw or write.
15. Pin the tail on the donkey
Traditionally, you play this game blindfolded, but of course, with a blindfold, your child can’t practice one half of the hand-eye coordination they need. Instead, play it without the blindfold, but still spin them around a time to two to make it more difficult.
Vary the game to make it more fun for them by playing Pin the Braid on Elsa, Pin the Ears on Mickey, or whatever variation of the game your child might like best.
16. Cutting and gluing
Providing a variety of different types of paper gives your child the freedom to cut without restrictions. Newspaper, cardboard, and tissue paper will give them different textures and hardnesses to experience.
They can cut shapes and strips and then use glue sticks, craft glue, or wood glue. Even flour and water makes a paste. Offer squeeze bottles and paintbrushes to spread it in different ways. This variety of tools will help them develop their hand-eye coordination in many different ways.
17. Lacing cards
Threading and lacing requires concentration and controlled movements. Your child will need to coordinate their eyes and fingers very carefully, which will also require fine motor skills. You can make your own lacing cards out of cardboard.
It’s a cheap activity that only requires cutting fun shapes out of old cardboard boxes. Then use shoelaces to thread them.
18. Build with blocks
Wooden blocks and LEGOs require fine motor skills, concentration, and coordination. Some more complicated sets even require that you follow the instructions.
Whether you want your child to complete these or do their own thing, they can develop their hand-eye coordination by building with these tools or any other construction toys, like Lincoln Logs, Erector sets, and other things that snap or click together.
19. Tether ball
Whether you go to the park, buy one online, or build your own, hitting a ball on a rope with their hands or a bat is a great way for your child to develop their hand-eye coordination.
20. Playing in the garden
You can always make a game out of anything you’re doing. If you have things to do around the house, include your child. Gardening is a great way to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
All your child needs is some gardening tools. Equip them with a watering can and direct them where to go and they’ll be able to aim and practice all afternoon.
Signs of Hand-Eye Coordination Problems
Helping your child practice is always a good thing, but sometimes children still have problems. If you notice your child having trouble with poor coordination, it may be time to seek help. The following signs could mean it’s time to see your pediatrician or an optometrist:
- Holding items too close to their face
- Avoiding fun activities
Hand-eye coordination is a skill that develops naturally over time, but you can and should help encourage it. These are just some of the fun activities you can provide for your child to help them develop one of the most important skills they’ll need for the rest of their life.