11 Simple Playdough Activities to Build Strength and Fine Motor Skills

Hey Mommies! There are quite a few benefits to playing with playdough. Here are 11 simple playdough activities to do with your kids and how they help build hand strength, bilateral coordination, and fine motor skills for you kiddo!

1. Make snakes: Everyone does this with playdough. It’s probably one of the first things you and your kids did with playdough, but this activity helps develop the muscles in the hand that control finger extension. This activity also helps children build an awareness of how much pressure they need to apply to form something and also builds strength in arms.

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2. Pull apart: Just the simple act of pulling playdough apart works on bilateral coordination grip strength, and arm strength.

3. Squish playdough balls: Make little playdough balls for your kiddo. Then have them squish them between their index. You can also make big balls and have your child squeeze them with their whole hand. This helps promote finger strength, hand strength, and fine motor.

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4. Roll big playdough balls: Having your child roll and form balls of playdough takes strength, coordination, and awareness of pressure.

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5. Pick up playdough with tongs: You can use tongs to pick up any items, but it’s also fun to do with playdough. Using tongs helps build strength and coordination needed for using scissors.

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6. Cut playdough with scissors:­ This is a great way to promote and build cutting skills which builds hand strength and bilateral coordination.

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7. Use utensils with playdough: Using a knife and fork to cut and spear pieces of playdough is a great way to practice using utensils outside of meal time.

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8. Smash playdough and cut with cookie cutters­: This activity typically requires full upper body strength through hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Applying deep pressure through the arms like this is a great sensory input activity as well as strengthening. Peeling playdough away from the cookie cutters builds fine motor skills.

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9. Pinch and pull off little pieces of playdough: Pinching and pulling playdough builds finger strength and the pincer grasp which is needed for fine motor activities.

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10. Poke holes in playdough with fingers: This focuses more on individual finger strength which can build endurance for other fine motor activities.

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 11. Hide small items in playdough: Hide small beads or little figures in playdough and have your child pulling, squeeze, and dig through the playdough with their fingers to pull all the pieces out. This improves strength, fine motor,and bilateral coordination. Plus, most kids really like doing this!

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Another added bonus of these activities is that they will keep your child occupied! My 2 year old will sit at the table and play playdough for at LEAST 20 minutes! Most kids I work with have great attention for playdough too.

What are some other activities you like to do with playdough?

By: Emily Bettis, MOT/L

Emily Bettis, MOT/L is a pediatric occupational therapist and mother. She has been working with children birth-5 since 2008 and has been a mother since 2013. Emily is the founder and author HeyMommies.com

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