Make a Play Dough Snake to Build Fine Motor Skills

If you’ve ever played with Play Doh then you may have made a play dough snake. But did you ever stop and think about the various fine motor skills being developed with that simple play dough creature? Here we have a super simple and fun activity using play dough and rocks: Making play dough snakes! When you make a play dough snake so many skills are developed.

play dough snakes are an easy way to work on fine motor skills with kids.

Play Dough Snakes

We are big fans of play dough.  Adding in fun little extras (like making play dough snakes!) is a great way to keep it interesting, and get those fingers moving with fine motor work.  We shared a picture of this activity on Instagram and it was such a hit, that we had to share our play in a blog post!  We used regular play dough this time, but a batch of homemade play dough recipe would be perfect for this activity, too. 

The thing is that Play Doh snakes can be made with any type of play dough, homemade dough, slime, or even kinetic sand.

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Play Dough Snakes and Fine Motor Skills

Baby Girl loved this!!  I pulled out a few colors of play dough and a basket of  River Rocks.  She got started sorting, picking out her favorites, and pushing them into the play dough. 

I showed her how to roll a play dough snake to really work on those fine motor skills. 

By rolling a snake from playdough, so many fine motor skills are developed:

Pinching those play dough snakes and pressing the stones into the play dough really works the intrinsic muscles of the hand, and upper body strength.  It’s a fun way to practice tripod grasp, too.

How to Make a Play Dough Snake

To roll a play dough snake, all you need is a lump of play dough. Then, follow these directions to support fine motor skill development:

  1. Use both hands to roll play dough on the table surface. Both hands should work symmetrically together (bilateral coordination)
  2. As the play dough is rolled, it gets longer.
  3. Use varying amounts of pressure through the palms of the hands to make sure the play dough snake is even. (Graded pressure)
  4. As the playdough snake gets longer and thinner, use the finger tips to roll with more precision. (Precision skills)

Rolling a snake from play dough is a great way to strengthen the muscles of the hands, lengthen the muscles inside the hand (intrinsics), and work on grasp, and finger isolation.

Here is another way to work on intrinsic strength using play dough.

 I made a play dough snake and pressed rocks along the length.  Baby Girl watched and started making her own. 

More skills with Play Dough Snakes

After you’ve made a few snakes from play dough, you can continue the skill-building.

Freeze the play dough to make a stronger resistance. Freezing play dough for heavy work play is a great opportunity to challenge fine motor skills and add more resistive feedback through the hands.

Cut the Play Dough Snake- After you have a nice long ribbon of playdough created, use scissors to create marks along the length. Cut the play dough snake along those textured marks to work on scissor skills and visual motor skills. The play dough offers great feedback through the hands.

Add rocks to the play dough snake- Pushing the rocks into the play dough is a great fine motor proprioception activity.  This resistive activity really “wakes up” the small muscles in the hands.  What a great way to warm up the hands before a handwriting activity for older kids.  Proprioception activities like this one are a good way to calm and organize your child.  This activity would be a great addition to a Sensory Diet or a Sensory Lifestyle.  

We made our snakes into faces, too. I made a play dough face and Baby Girl was able to copy one to make her own.  We talked about all of the parts of the face.  Such a fun way to play and learn!

  After she made her play dough face, she made them talk to each other…”hi, how are you…” and conversation back and forth.  Language development is fun with play dough!

These cuties were best buds by the time we were done!

Let us know if you do this activity at your home or school. 

 

 
Create and explore proprioception with kids in this fine motor activity with play dough
 
 
 

 

More play dough ideas you may like:

 

Use these Fine Motor Kits for hands-on activity kits to develop fine motor skills, strength, dexterity, and manipulation. Kids LOVE these fine motor kits for the motivating activities. Therapists love them because it’s fresh, fun ways to work on pinch, grip, manipulation skills, and much more. Try some of these themed therapy kits:

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

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