Fine Motor Activities with Play Dough

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Looking for fun fine motor activities to strengthen the hands, improve eye-hand coordination, and address underlying skills that kids so very need? You’ll find a lot of fine motor activities here on The OT Toolbox…today we’re sharing fine motor activities with play dough. Whether it’s homemade play dough or store bought, play dough is a great way to build motor skills needed for precision tasks like pencil grasp, scissor skills, precision in buttoning, zippering, or tying shoes? Fine motor play is a great way to build the skills kids need. Here are ways to use an everyday item to build small motor skills…let’s use play dough to work those hands!

Build fine motor skills using play dough to improve coordination, dexterity, and grasp.

Catch up on the latest tools on The OT Toolbox. Use other everyday items in your therapy bag to with these fine motor activities with craft pom poms and fine motor activities with playing cards. These activities and paper clip activities are an easy way to address a variety of fine motor needs on the go.

Use play dough to improve fine motor skills with these fine motor activities using play dough.

Fine Motor Activities with Play DOugh

Here’s the thing: play dough is an easy and effective means for building fine motor skills for preschoolers. The soft and squishy dough provides a tactile sensory challenge with proprioceptive sensory feedback. The bonus is the strengthening of the arches of the hands and precision of grasp.

Fine motor activities like playing with playdough build many fine motor skill areas:

Precision– Precision occurs with development of grasp when child to use the pads of the index finger, middle finger, and thumb to manipulate objects with opposition.  

Hand strength-

Open thumb web space

Separation of the sides of the hand

FInger isolation

Here are all of the intricacies of fine motor skills. Read about the definitions of fine motor skills and how each skill area is needed for tasks like pencil grasp, buttons, and other fine motor tasks.

Play Dough Activities

Playing with play dough builds other skills as well:

Eye-hand coordination

Bilateral coordination

Crossing midline

Let’s get to those play dough activities! A tub of play dough has so many options for building fine motor strength and dexterity.

  • Roll balls of dough between the thumb and pointer/middle fingers.
  • Make a rainbow with rolls of different colors of play dough.
  • Use a play dough mat like this ice cream play dough mat and others on this site.
  • Make snakes and cut with scissors
  • Roll a long rope of play dough and roll it into a cinnamon bun
  • Hide beads and have a race to find them
  • Create an obstacle course for the fingers with hurdles and jumps
  • Spread the play dough out into a pizza. Use scissors to cut it into slices
  • Make a small world with hills and mountains for small animal figures
  • Make a maze for a ping pong ball. Blow the ball through the maze with a straw
  • Make a small keyboard using balls of dough. Press on the play dough balls with one finger 
  • Make a play dough pie. Pinch the crust, create play dough berries.
  • Form letters using the play dough
  • Mix water into the play dough for a squishy, messy dough
  • Build structures using popsicle sticks and play dough. Add details with feathers scraps of paper, etc
  • Make play dough emoji faces 
  • Roll play dough into a sheet. Cut it with scissors
  • Cut with cookie cutters
  • Press google eyes into play dough
  • Press buttons into playdough
  • Push pegs into play dough
  • Press straws into play dough to make circles
  • Press kitchen utensils into play dough
  • Press feathers into playdough
  • Nature sculptures- add leaves, pine cones, acorns, etc.
  • Make play dough muffins with muffin tin
  • Press rocks into play dough
  • Use candles or pipe cleaners and craft sticks to create playdough birthday cakes
  • Press craft sticks into play dough to make a STEM building set

Fine motor activities with craft supplies

What would you add to this list of fine motor activities using play dough? Add your ideas to the comments below.

For more fine motor activities using everyday items in your therapy bag, try these ideas: Fine motor activities using craft pom poms, and fine motor activities using paper clips, and fine motor activities using playing cards.