Play dough play is perfect for developing fine motor skills for little learners.
Fine Motor skills involve using the hands and fingers. Developing strength in fine motor is highly important during the early years of education. Without fine motor strength children are not able to manipulate toys, participate in self help activities such as eating and dressing and importantly; from an educational perspective for pre-writing/writing skills
Playdough is a FUN fine motor activity which our students are always excited to see as part of our program. Playdough is motivating in both it’s colours and textures and children enjoy using this medium to create. We love activities that encourage learning while the students have fun.
The benefits of playdough are not just limited to fine motor development. Playdough is also able to assist the development of children’s cognitive, language, creative, social/emotional and sensory skills.
Playdough allows children to strengthen the muscles of their hands and fingers as they rip, cut, squeeze, roll and create whilst also using their imagination.
The first thing your little learner will usually do with playdough is to pull it apart into lots of little pieces. The photo demonstrates how a 2 year old enjoyed first playdough play. This is also an important first step of fine motor as this skill requires using muscles in the fingers as well as using both hands together to control the fingers to complete this task. It is messy but an important first learning step
We recommend rolling playdough into thin snake/sausage shapes as a first point of playdough play. Your child will love pretending to eat the sausages with you, or moving the long thin snake around the table.
Number and Letter Formation
When your child has mastered rolling the playdough as above, they are able to then create objects with those lengths.
This technique is wonderful for following shape, number and letter formation from the preschool years. While they strengthen their fingers they are also reinforcing the literacy and numeracy concepts they are learning. Our ‘Ready 4 School’ students (4-6 years) as well as tutor students struggling with letter recognition or formation use this skill regularly.
Rolling the playdough into balls is a great way to develop the use of the whole hand
Once your child has achieved rolling play dough balls, they will enjoy the flexibility of making ‘creations’ using their imagination. This might include ‘cooking’ playdough foods or making playdough ‘monsters’
Our ‘Little ED 4 School’ students (2-3 year olds) created these gorgeous playdough humpty dumpty characters!
There are many creative materials you can offer your child to decorate their playdough creations. They could go on a nature trail at the local park to find some natural materials to add to their playdough. Any art and craft objects can be added to the playdough to develop your child’s creative skills.
Playdough mats which can provide a model for playdough design are also useful at this stage.
Rolling Pin Tool
After your child is able to roll playdough balls, they will enjoy the use of the rolling pin. Rolling pins have been used for playdough and clay work throughout history. They are still a motivating tool that children will enjoy working with. Playdough balls can be rolled out onto flat surfaces. Rolling pin work requires a lot of hand strength as the child presses down on the rolling pin. It also encourages both hands to work together on this task. A fantastic learning opportunity while your child has FUN
Playdough for reinforcing shapes
There are many commercially available playdough tools. Various character and shape outlines are useful for children to press onto the rolled out playdough These outlines can include animals, shapes, letters and numbers.
When your child is ready, you can introduce playdough scissors to their play activities. Playdough is the best way to introduce scissors. The scissors are safe – they are blunt and all made of plastic as they are only designed to cut through playdough. They are chunky scissors to teach children the way to hold a pair of scissors. Playdough cutting is soft and easy. Scissors easily chop through the playdough, which allows your child to be snip independently. This is an activity that you should encourage frequent work on. Your child’s hand strength will improve while they use the scissors as well as giving them the opportunity to become familiar with scissors in a safe activity. Scissors are also available with different edges to make the cutting activities even more interesting
There are many playdough tools which can encourage your child to extend their fine motor skills. These tools offer different ways to roll, cut along, create different textures and stamp the playdough creations.
Creating with playdough gives your child an infinite amount of opportunities to develop their imagination and strengthen fine motor skills.
Such a simple activity that does not need to cost any money.
Play and enjoy!
Learn with Confidence