Paper Tearing Activities: This is How to Improve Fine Motor Skills


Are you looking for a fun and easy way to help your kids build strength in their hands and develop their fine motor skills? Have you tried getting kids to rip things? After trying paper tearing activities, preschool teachers always tell me how much their kids enjoy the simple activities. You see…. paper tearing activities are a WIN-WIN…. they are fun and engaging, PLUS they help develop fine motor skills.

Yes….seriously…the best thing about paper tearing activities is they are an excellent fine motor activity to help your kids build and refine those small muscles in their little hands.

Paper tearing activities for fine motor skills - The image show a torn paper rainbow craft.

What Skills Do Kids Develop From Paper Tearing Activities?

When it comes to helping young kids work on fine motor development, paper tearing activities can be surprisingly beneficial. Even though it might seem like a simple task, ripping papers actually offers a wide range of benefits for kids in preschool and kindergarten. Let’s look closer at why tearing paper into small pieces is so great for little ones and how these activities can help improve their fine motor skills.

paper tearing activities to build fine motor skills.  The picture collage includes a torn paper snowflake activity, a truck image, a torn paper rainbow craft, a balloon alphabet torn paper worksheet, a shark, and a paper tearing Valentines day craft.
  • Enhances Hand-Eye Coordination – One of the cool things about tearing pieces of paper is that it helps kids coordinate their hands and eyes. They have to watch the paper and use their hands to tear it in the right places. This activity actually strengthens the connection between what they see and what their hands can do, which is super important for things like writing and drawing.
  • Develops Finger Strength and Dexterity – Tearing paper activities might not seem like a big workout, but they help kids strengthen their hands and fingers. As they tear the paper into smaller pieces or specific shapes, they use different muscles in their hands and little fingers. It’s a great workout! Their fingers become stronger with practice, and they better control their movements.
  • Fosters Bilateral Coordination – When kids tear paper, they have to use both hands at the same time. They need to hold the paper in their non-dominant hand while pulling or ripping with their dominant hand. This simple activity helps them work on something called “bilateral coordination.” It basically means that both sides of their body are working together. This skill is important for things like tying shoelaces, cutting, and even writing.
  • Supports Pincer Grasp Development -Kids must use their thumb and index finger to hold and tear the paper. This kind of grasp is called the “pincer grasp,” which is really important for things like picking up small objects and writing. Tearing paper helps them develop fine motor control and get better at using this grip.

These skills provide the foundation to enable kids to grasp and write with a pencil or crayon and use scissors.

Additional Paper Tearing Activity Benefits

What I love about tearing paper activities for preschoolers is that they are fun activities that do not require fancy materials…. perfect for a young child and an early childhood educator.

torn paper apple craft, an apple tree and apple pie paper tearing worksheets.
  • Inexpensive – I’ll give you lots of ideas about types of paper and materials that you can use for tearing paper activities and projects, but you can seriously use trash if you want. This torn paper apple craft used some scraps from the recycling bin. Art materials don’t get any cheaper than that!
  • Encourages Creativity and Self-ExpressionTorn paper art and craft projects allow preschoolers to explore their creativity and self-expression. They can tear paper into various shapes and sizes, giving them the freedom to create collages, art projects, or even imaginary play scenes. This fun activity nurtures their imagination while promoting fine motor skill development.
  • Stimulates Sensory Exploration: Tearing paper activities provide a sensory-rich experience for children. As they tear, they experience the paper’s texture, sound, and resistance. This sensory feedback helps children refine their sense of touch and build their understanding of different textures, which is essential for future handwriting and drawing skills.
  • Easy to prep for a send-home activity – It’s really easy to include a printable, some scrap paper, and a glue stick in a send-home packet. The project is also easy for parents to do at home with their kids.

Paper Tearing Step-by-Step Instructions

A child tearing paper for a fine motor activity.  The child is pinching a piece of blue paper with both hands to rip it into a strip for tearing paper activities.

Tearing paper may come naturally to some kids, but for others, you may have to demonstrate how to rip paper. Here are some instructions to demonstrate to your kids:

  1. The first step is to pinch the edge of a piece of paper with both hands. Your hands should be side-by-side.
  2. Hold the paper steady with one hand as you pull the paper down with the dominant hand. The paper will start to tear in along the line between your hands.
  3. Continue tearing until the rip reaches the edge of the paper.
  4. Take one of the strips that you just created and tear it in the opposite directions andinto smaller pieces.
  5. Continue tearing until the pieces are the desired size.

How To Help Kids Tear Paper More Easily

Some kids may struggle to tear a large piece of paper. You can modify the tearing activity if needed by cutting paper into strips before you begin. For this paper tearing butterfly craft, I cut thin strips of paper to make it easier for kids to take the strips and rip them into small pieces before gluing them to the worksheet.

paper tearing butterfly craft with small strips of yellow, orange, and purple paper.  This is an example of paper tearing craft ideas for preschool and kindergarten.

What Kind of Paper Can You Use for Paper Tearing Activities?

You can use so many different materials for paper tearing activities. If you are on a budget, pull clean pieces of paper out of the trash or recycling bin. It’s also fun to experiment with a variety of materials to have different textures and more visual interest.

Look how cool the wings are on this bumblebee craft. We made them with torn parchment paper.

bumble bee torn paper craft to build fine motor skills.  The bee is on purple background and includes wings made from torn parchment paper.

Obviously, it’s a little bit more fun to use something other than white paper or printer paper for this activity. But don’t worry, there are many inexpensive ways to find fun paper to use. Keep in mind that thicker paper will be more difficult to tear. Here are various papers and materials you can use for tearing paper projects:

  • scrapbook papers
  • construction paper
  • foil
  • wax paper or parchment paper
  • fast-food containers, cardboard food boxes
  • old magazines or catalogs
  • Junk mail
  • Construction paper
  • Tissue paper
  • Newspaper
  • Cardstock
  • Wrapping paper
  • Crepe paper
  • Wallpaper samples
  • Paper bags
  • Coffee filters
  • masking tape

You can also use painted paper, ala Eric Carle.

What Kinds of Activities Can You Do with Torn Paper?

tearing and pasting paper activities to build hand strength and fine motor skills.  A truck tearing paper craft activity.

From creating a sensory bin filled with torn papers, activities to teach letters, numbers, and shapes, or craft activities that include tearing and pasting, there are many ways you can use tearing paper activities with kids. Let me show you some ideas.

Paper Tearing Activities for the Sensory Table

The act of simply ripping papers can be an activity. Add the ripped scraps to a sensory table for a fun fine motor and sensory activity.

A pile of torn construction paper in a sensory bin

You can adapt this activity for many different seasons and/or themes. Use white or tissue pieces with plastic snowflake ornaments or plastic polar animals for a winter theme sensory table.

Use brown and green scrap papers and cardboard to create a habitat for insects, worms, or spiders. Save the paper when you are done and you can use it for many of the tearing paper craft ideas below.

Paper Tearing Letter crafts

Craft activities can be very beneficial to preschoolers because they provide a great way to motivate kids to work on fine motor skills, and kids can tear and paste the pieces in various fine motor crafts & projects. They can use torn paper or cardboard to create a letter collage and work on letter recognition. I love tearing cardboard because it requires a little bit more work, and it creates interesting textures.

tearing paper alphabet activities

With these torn paper worksheets, you can teach letter sounds while building fine motor skills.

paper tearing letter activity for preschool and kindergarten.  The picture show torn paper worksheets including "j is for jeans", "h is for helicopter", and "p is for pig".

Torn Paper Shape Activities

Need to work on shape recognition with your kids? They can tear colorful pieces and paste them around the perimeter of a shape, or they can rip paper and glue the pieces on the inside of shapes.

tearing paper activities for preschoolers - a printable circle, triangle, and star shape activities

Torn Paper Name Activities

Write a child’s name on a large sheet of paper, and they can outline the letters with pieces of torn pieces or small bits of paper. You can also do this activity with sight words or thematic words.

A fine motor name activity - an example of a tearing paper activities for preschoolers

Paper Tearing Craft Ideas

These paper tearing activity worksheets are so simple yet so engaging for kids. From easy printable Valentine crafts to Earth Day crafts and Halloween art, you can use these simple low prep thematic printables for fun fine motor activities for every season and occasion.

A printable Earth with pasted bits of torn paper on it.  This is an example of  tearing paper activities for preschoolers

These fine motor crafts are so versatile. This torn paper pumpkin craft can be used to celebrate Halloween, harvest, Thanksgiving, or to learn the letter “p”.

torn paper pumpkin craft for preschool and kindergarten.  An example of Halloween art and fun fine motor activities for kids.

3-D Collages with Torn Paper

Add some glue and water to torn construction or tissue papers. Kids can stir it together to make a nice pulp. Let them spoon it onto a piece of cardboard to create a 3-D sculpture, design, or tower. Check out even more ideas for torn paper art.

a 3-D torn paper process art activity as an example of tearing paper activities for preschoolers.

Torn Paper Art Activities

You can use torn scraps to make collages and free form art. Check out this article to get more torn paper art ideas for your kids.

Torn Paper Process Art.  Purple, blue and silver scraps of torn paper on a black piece of paper. - and example of paper tearing activities for preschoolers.

Additional Torn Paper Activities

Fill a bottle or container with paper – Create a fun fine motor activity by adding torn paper to a plastic bottle as demonstrated by The OT Toolbox.

Make props for dramatic play – Kids can help you make props for a dramatic play area. You can use the scraps to make toppings in your taco truck dramatic play area. Tear up green to create a salad for your grocery store dramatic play area.

You can also rip papers to create space food for a space-themed dramatic play area. Have fun and be creative.

use torn paper to make props for a space station dramatic play area.  An example of paper tearing activities for preschoolers.

I hope that you try using some of these fun paper-tearing activities. Do you have additional ideas? I would love to hear them.

Purchase the Paper Tearing Craft Project Printables Today

Are you ready to get started on some tearing paper activities for preschoolers? Check out these tearing paper fine motor resources in my store. These printables will help you create easy-prep fine motor activities for all seasons. Check them out in my store today.

Paper tearing fine motor activity printable pages
tearing paper activities for preschoolers

Purchase on TPT

Do you prefer to shop at Teachers Pay Teachers? You can also purchase the paper tearing activity worksheets in my TPT Store.