Developing Hand Coordination with Playdough!

Hand coordination skills, sometimes called “fine motor skills” are the skills needed to do things like use spoons, pinch salt, and hold a pencil. Young children need lots of practice, especially between the ages of 3 months and 7 years old. Around 2 years old is when playing with playdough starts to have a big impact on children’s hand coordination skills.

Here are some ways you can encourage children of different ages to use playdough as a tool to develop their fine motor skills:

Encourage 2-3 year olds to try:
– Opening the Ziploc bag or jar where dough is stored on their own
– Snipping dough with safety scissors or plastic playdough scissors
– Generally shaping play dough with their hands, squishing it, smashing it, and pulling it
– Using tools like cookie cutters, spatulas, plastic straws, and pine cones to stamp and cut dough
– Roll dough into snakes
– Poke it using different fingers
Encourage 4-5 year olds to design detailed creations as they:
– Continue practicing their age 2-3 skills
– Practice using utensils like forks, knives, and spoons to poke, cut, and scoop
– Use tongs to squish and carry dough
– Use safety scissors to cut lines and shapes
– Build 3D animals, buildings, and other creations
– Build letters (especially letters to spell their names) by rolling dough into snakes and bending them into letter shapes
– Using a pencil to etch letters into flattened play dough “paper”
– Rolling dough into balls of the same and different sizes

Homemade Playdough

Make playdough using ingredients you might already have around the kitchen- Sarahi will teach you how!

Prep It

Gather the following materials:

  • 2 Heaping Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Cooking Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Warm Water
  • Food Coloring (optional)
  • Mixing bowl
  • Tablespoon (any spoon will do)

Play It

1. In a bowl, mix warm water with cooking oil (wet ingredients). Then, add the flour and salt (dry ingredients).

? Ask children: Is the flour and salt dry or wet? What about the oil and water?

2. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together with your hands until it looks and feels like play-dough.

? As a challenge, ask children: does this feel wet or dry to you?

3. If the kids think the dough is too wet and sticky, try saying: “Oh no! Should we add more flour or more water to make it more dry?” Slowly sprinkle more flour into the dough until it feels like play-dough.

Or, if the kids think the mixture is dry and crumbly, try saying: “Oh no! Should we add more flour or water to make it stickier?” Add just a few drops of water at a time until the dough is smooth.

4. To add color, squeeze a few drops of food coloring into the dough. This is a great opportunity to learn about color: point at different food coloring tubes and ask the kids to name the colors.

For a mini science experiment, mix two primary color food coloring dyes (red, yellow, and blue) and have your kids name the colors you made together.

5. Keep the dough in a sealed container to use over and over again!