No Foundation-phase or Junior Primary toy-box is complete without playdough. If you homeschool your children, this is as important as having pencils in their pencil box in the early grades. It is easy and cheap to make and will last years if stored in a sealed container. Add different colours and even add uplifting aromas and your child can spend hours having fun creating models and characters for their imaginative games. The good, non-sticky texture encourages children who dislike getting their hands dirty. Playdough is truly an excellent homeschooling tool for building fine motor development for developing your child’s pencil grip.
Homeschoolers can also show him how to roll long sausages to form numbers and letters. So that he can learn correct letter formation while he is still building his finger and hand strength and dexterity. I use it often to teach correct letter and number formation and recognition, particularly when a child has weak fine motor development. It prevents him developing a poor pencil grip while he is still trying to develop his fine motor strength and coordination.
Whether you homeschool your child or just want to give him some extra support while he is starting school and beginning to learn to read and write, it is very important that your child only begins writing and drawing with a pencil when he is truly ready. Starting to learn to write too soon can cause your child to develop an inefficient pencil grip which is difficult to correct later and realy slows down his writing and can have damaging effects on his learning as the written work increases.
Some ideas for using playdough to build fine motor development:
Form the playdough into a ball. Play throw and catch with your child. It is fairly heavy and his fingers can sink into it, so it feels good and strengthens his grip as he catches and throws it.
Roll it into a long, thin sausage. It is important that your child uses his fingers and NOT the palm of his hand to roll the sausage. Rolling with the fingertips uses the muscles which you need to strengthen for good pencil grip; while rolling with the palm of his hand encourages finger extension. The sausage can be rolled up to be a coiled cobra (snake) or he can break it into pieces to mould the shapes of numbers and letters.
Pinch small pieces off and roll them between the fingers to form small “snakes eggs” and “baby snakes”. Pinch and mould cups and saucers, people and animals.
Use a rolling-pin to roll it flat then let your child use scissors to cut out shapes.
If you want to make finger-paints, add a little warm water and oil to some of the playdough.
½ cup salt ; 1 cup plain flour ; 1 cup water ; 2 teaspoons cream of tarter
1 desert spoon oil ; Colouring ; Aromatic oil (optional)
Cook, stirring gently. Leave to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes.
Knead with cornflour.
Store in an air-tight container.
Have fun helping your child develop his fine motor coordination and pencil grip. Stimulate his imagination and introduce correct letter and number formation for reading and writing in happy, relaxed play.
Click on the image below to learn about other interesting, fun educational games you can use for Homeschooling. All developed by an Occupational Therapist from her years of experience working with learning difficulties.