One of the most common reasons for referral at my practice is for handwriting! Yes, a simple task that we all use each and every day in our lives, yet children struggle with it the most.
Why? Children spend more and more time on front of the TV or on the iPad and they don't use their little fingers to play lego or build blocks anymore. As a result, the small muscles in their fingers don't become strong enough to hold a pencil and write for a long period of time. It is always difficult to know what you as parent or teacher can do to help them strengthen these little muscles. Enter, Play Dough!
Play dough is probably one of the cheapest toys out there and can even be made at home with a few ingredients, which you probably already have anyway. Not only is it really inexpensive, it also has great therapeutic value! I’m pretty sure you did not know that…
I use Play Dough in my practice almost everyday with kids ranging from 2 to 12 years old and they all love it!
One of the Play Dough activities I use the most, is making flowers. It has sooo much therapeutic value for little hands and in time improves their handwriting. More often than not, we see children use incorrect grasps on their pencils or have low endurance with writing due to low muscle tone in their hands. This activity strengthens those tiny muscles in their hands, which will improve their grasp and endurance! Not only that, it also improves bilateral coordination and fine-motor coordination!
Now this may sound like a game that only girls would like, but I usually tell my boy patients that we are making flowers for mom and they are super keen!
Step 1: Make a big ball with the Play Dough
Step 2: Roll the play Dough in a long snake - they can determine the length, just as long as it is long enough to roll up later.
Step 3: They use their index finger of their dominant hand to press the snake as flat as possible. Your little one’s hands will probably become very tired and they would want to use their whole hand or other fingers to help. This is where your awesome motivation skills come in! Help them to press the whole snake flat, before they can take a break. I usually make them press 2 snakes in a session and they get a break in between, but it is up to you to determine how much they can handle.
Step 4: Start rolling a snake from the one side all the way through to the other side, without squishing it flat.
Step 5: Voila! Their flower is done and can be given to whomever they want.
This activity can be used in the classroom, at home, in a practice or anyone else your heart desires. Enjoy doing this activity with your little ones and leave me a comment below about your experience!