As an occupational therapist, parents frequently ask me about what they can do at home to work on their children’s fine motor skills. One of the best, cheapest, and most fun therapy tool out there is play-doh! Playing with play-doh works on the following skills:

  • Hand strengthening
  • In-hand manipulation skills
  • Pincer grasp
  • Visual-motor integration (aka eye-hand coordination)
  • Bilateral coordination (using 2 sides of the body to perform a functional task)
  • Visual perceptual
  • Sensory Input

Here’s some activities to do at home:

Squish and flatten the play-doh

Works on: hand strengthening, sensory input (for children who seek or avoid tactile activities)

Hide small toys/beads in the play-doh and have your child pick them out

Works on: hand strengthening, pincer grasp

Roll snakes and balls

Works on: In-hand manipulation skills, bilateral coordination, sensory input

Roll play-doh out and cut out shapes with cookie cutters

Works on: bilateral coordination, pincer grasp/3-jaw chuck grasp (while peeling away play-doh from the cookie cutter), sensory input

Molding play-doh to make letters, shapes, objects

Works on: visual-motor integration, in-hand manipulation skills, bilateral coordination, sensory input

Matching play-doh to pictures on play-doh mats

Works on: visual perceptual skills, in-hand manipulation skills, visual-motor integration, bilateral coordination, sensory input

Cutting play-doh with play-doh scissors and play-doh knives

Works on: visual-motor integration, grasping skills, sensory input