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Use Play Dough to Increase Hand Strength

Play dough is an amazing, simple tool to help children increase muscle strength in the fingers and hands, expand creativity and encourage imagination.  Below are 10 ways to use play dough to increase hand strength.

Play dough is an amazing, simple tool to help children increase muscle strength in the fingers and hands, expand creativity and encourage imagination.  Below are 10 ways to use play dough to increase hand strength.

Why Use Play Dough to Increase Hand Strength?

When children squish, squeeze and pinch play dough, they are working on strengthening all the small muscles in the fingers and hands.  It is a hard, resistive exercise and children are willing to play with it for long periods of time.  This combination can increase muscle strength.

If you want to increase hand strength even more, make your own play dough with the children.  Search Pinterest or anywhere to get a simple flour and salt recipe.

All the stirring, mixing and kneading the dough works the muscle in the fingers and hands.  Once you have made the play dough or you purchased it, encourage children to try using it in different ways to work on different muscles.

10 Ways to Use Play Dough to Increase Hand Strength

  1. Squeeze it.
  2. Pinch it.
  3. Flatten it.
  4. Roll it into a ball between the hands.
  5. Roll it into a small ball with just the finger tips.
  6. Slice it with a plastic knife.
  7. Cut it with scissors.
  8. Roll it into a log.
  9. Squish it.
  10. Poke it.

Get all 10 Play Dough Ideas and More

Creative Clay Activities Updated

The activities in the Creative Clay digital download encourage tactile and proprioceptive input, fine motor skills, muscle strengthening of the hand and fingers, visual motor skills, visual perceptual skills, math skills and letter formation.  

This is a great book for any pediatric occupational therapist – add some new, fun games to your use of clay, make copies to give to teachers or send home activities with your clients.  Most of the pages are in black and white for economical printing and children can color the pages if they wish.  You will need modeling clay, resistive clay or playdoh to do activities.  This does not include any clay only the download of activities.  Laminate the play clay mats for durability.

Creative Clay digital download includes the materials to create the following:

  • 16 ways to use play dough cards  – each photo card is 1/2 page or you can print smaller cards 8 to a page.  Perfect to laminate and place in a play dough station to encourage various ways to manipulate play dough.  The cards are in color but easily print grayscale.  
  • 8 play clay mats – black and white mats to encourage finger strengthening, counting and more.
  • 26 alphabet mats – black and white mats for all the letters A to Z.  Make the letter, find and cover the letters and cover the animal. Download a FREE SAMPLE LETTER A.
  • Ten frame mats – black and white 1-10 number mats: count and name shapes, make the number and complete the ten frame.

Need more finger and hand strengthening activities?  Check out

Visual Perceptual Clothes Pin Games

The Hand Strengthening Handbook

Plus-Plus® One Simple Shape, Endless Possibility

Video of 10 Ways to Use Play Dough to Increase Hand Strength

Play dough is an amazing, simple tool to help children increase muscle strength in the fingers and hands, expand creativity and encourage imagination.  Below are 10 ways to use play dough to increase hand strength.