Playdough activities are a great way to help your child develop fine motor skills as well as bilateral coordination skills. These fine motor activities for playdough are so engaging, children don’t even realize they’re learning while playing.
Playdough Ideas to Develop Fine Motor Skills
Playing with playdough is one of my favorite ways to help preschoolers and toddlers develop hand strength. While kids are squashing, smooshing, and shaping their blob of playdough, they are also experiencing many benefits.
Playdough is an easy and effective means for building fine motor skills for preschoolers. The soft and squishy dough provides a tactile sensory stimulation. Playing with playdough also naturally strengthening the arches of the hands, making it a really versatile tool in the preschool classroom for fine motor development.
And, playdough is cheap, too!
The Best Homemade Playdough Recipe
Having a great playdough recipe is something that should be in every teacher’s arsenal of tools for teaching. In my preschool classroom, we work with playdough nearly every single day. This is my all time favorite, fail-proof, easiest ever playdough recipe without cream of tartar.
Troubleshooting Your Playdough Fails
This post will answer all your questions about how to make homemade playdough that turns out beautifully every single time. It will also answer other questions about playdough like:
- How do you get playdough out of carpet?
- Is playdough toxic to pets?
- Does playdough need to be refridgerated?
- Is that mold on my playdough?
- How do you harden playdough for sculptures?
- Can playdough be composted?
Tips for Using Playdough to Develop Fine Motor Skills
A tub of playdough has so many options for building fine motor strength and dexterity. Try some of these easy fine motor activities for playdough.
- Roll small balls of playdough between the palms of the hands.
- Roll even smaller balls of playdough between the thumb and pointer and middle fingers.
- Roll out long snakes on the table, then cut them with a playdough knife or with blunt scissors.
- Spiral a long snake into a cinnamon roll.
- Smoosh playdough into a pancake and then decorate it like a pizza.
- Hide small items like dried beans or hide beads in the playdough and then pick them out of the playdough.
These are just a handful of learning activities using playdough that provide a great sensory experience.
Using Playdough to Develop Hand Strength
45 Playdough Recipes$10.00
20+ Things to Do With Playdough
This earth day themed play dough invitation to play allows preschoolers to explore the use of non-traditional playdough tools within a playdough activity. This is a fun and easy way for them to practice fine motor work and increase their pincer grasp.
This play dough and rocks fine motor proprioception activity uses just two items to keep your preschooler focused and entertained. They’ll increase hand strength as they roll the playdough, and they’ll work on fine motor skills as they sort and insert the rocks.
This simple play dough button stacking fine motor activity is one that will hold your preschooler’s interest and make learning fun as well. Not only does this activity work on their fine motor skills, but you could also use it as a counting lesson or a way for them to practice their listening skills.
This fine motor alphabet playdough activity uses foam letters and playdough to help your preschooler get creative and work on their alphabet skills. Using the playdough is great for refining skills like intrinsic muscle strength, finger isolation, tripod grasp development, and more.
This watermelon fine motor seed hunt is quick, easy, and simple to set up. It can also be adapted to your child’s skill and development level: bury the seeds deeper for preschoolers, or place them closer to the top for toddlers.
Who says Easter eggs are only for Easter? This adorable play dough easter egg decorating activity is a perfect fine motor exercise that works small hand muscles and has pre-writing benefits.
This monster play dough activity is a super fun way for kids to get creative and work their fine motor skills. You can use common household items like pasta, bottle tops, and pipe cleaners to make silly (or scary!) monsters, which works small hand muscles as they press each item into the dough.
Gripping scissors correctly is not always easy. This scissor skills practice activity uses playdough instead of paper to help them get some early scissor practice and set them up for success down the road.
This easy playdough slicing activity was designed to help toddlers with their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and sensory play. Increase the learning level for preschoolers by having them count and sort the slices, match other colors for a math activity, and more.
If you have playdough and any sort of squeezer (citrus squeezer, garlic press, etc.) at home, then this fine motor play dough squeezing activity is perfect. It’s super easy to set up and works well as an independent activity that will be entertaining and beneficial for preschoolers and toddlers alike.
This playdough color matching activity is a fun way for preschoolers and toddlers to learn colors, and it doubles as a fine motor activity for small hands. Gather some playdough and paper clips in multiple colors and watch them have fun and stay busy!
Gather some beads and spaghetti noodles for this simple and easy spaghetti bead towers fine motor activity. Let them stack beads freely or ask them to create a pattern for an added learning element.
How fun and colorful is this fine motor activity with rainbow pasta and playdough? This is an excellent way for your kids to practice their fine motor and color matching skills.
This playdough color sorting activity is designed for toddlers, but can easily be spruced up for preschoolers. Have them work on their fine motor skills by rolling the balls of dough themselves, and their counting skills by telling them a certain number of balls to place on each playdough plate.
Can you think of any preschooler who doesn’t want to dig for treasure? This fine motor treasure play dough activity will keep them busy for quite a while as they sort, search, and bury.
A child’s pencil grasp is often unstable, demonstrating weakness in the hand muscles. This pencil grasp playdough exercise is easy to put together and will help kids gain strength in the muscles that make up a functional grasp.
45 Playdough Recipes$10.00
This grow a garden pretend playdough activity really hits the mark when it comes to strengthening the little muscles in preschoolers’ hands. This is an excellent way to increase fine motor skills and focus, and could even be used for learning and sorting colors.
A proprioception activity like this frozen pixy stix candy playdough recipe “wakes up” and provides feedback to the hands. The frozen dough adds increased resistance and therefore muscle work when your kids are playing with it. Try working with frozen play dough as a warm up exercise to handwriting!
This zoo-themed fine motor search and find activity uses tweezers, clothespins, and playdough for multiple fine motor exercises. Preschoolers will be able to get creative, use their imagination, and even have some free play with the animals and playdough once they’ve pulled everything from the dough.
These easy DIY playdough stamps are awesome for a child’s creativity! This activity is also a great way to work on their drawing skills, fine motor skills, sensory play, independence, and focus.
This adorable playdough bugs activity is perfect for any of the bug-lovers in your life! Using just 5 items, your preschoolers will be able to work on their fine motor skills as they get creative making caterpillars, grasshoppers, and more.
This fine motor activity with playdough and q tips is such a simple way to keep your preschooler focused and entertained. It provides valuable fine motor practice as kids work to push the q-tips into the play dough, and is also a perfect way for younger kids to learn their colors.
Try These Fine Motor Activities
This pack of 12 fine motor task boxes was designed with preschoolers, kindergarten and first graders in mind. Featuring a variety of fine motor tasks, these activities also reinforce literacy and math skills. From scissor cutting, to playdough, stickers, hole punches and so much more, this fine motor activity pack is loaded with creative, new, and fun activities that get preschoolers loving pincer grasp work.
Each activity features a hands-on and fun way to practice fine motor skills, and fits just perfectly inside a pencil box, making them super easy to grab and teach while also making clean-up a breeze. Prep them now and always have an array of fine motor activities available for all the different skills sets in your classroom. They are perfect for morning table activities, fine motor preschool centers, and can even be used as small group activities.
Or How About These Letter Formation Printables?
These printables can also be used as playdough mats.
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.