play doh busy activity for fine motor skills
Early Learning, Parenting

Boost Fine Motor Skills With Activities Using Play Doh

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We love play doh! It is my favorite quite activity for my toddlers and something that we play with almost every day. I know some people can’t stand play doh almost as much as they can’t stand glitter, but I am not one of those people.

If you are one of those people I hope I can change your mind.

Boost Fine Motor Skills With Activities Using Play Doh

I know there are so many options out on the web for DIY play doh and kinetic sand, and I have tried a few and I just don’t like them. Not only do I have to take the time to make it, but they don’t last long.

We have had success with this fake snow recipe and it is a nice change up from playing with play doh, but no other recipe for DIY play doh has worked out for us.

If you have a great recipe you swear by please do share below!

What are fine motor skills?

Fine motor skills are what we need to use small muscles in our fingers, hands and wrist. For most adults this comes naturally with out much thought or effort, but for our children it is an important stage in child development.

First, comes the gross motor skill or the big muscles usage and from their our child have to fine tune their muscles and brain to gain fine motor skills.

Using those small muscles is how our children gain the coordination from muscles to brain. And in order for this to happen we need to be intentional and give them opportunities to work on gaining new fine motor skills.

Fine motor skills are so important for child development and play doh is such a fun way to work on those skills. Play doh is also great for a quite time busy activity. #play #earlylearning

Why do children need fine motor skills?

Fine motor skills are a stage in child development just like crawling and walking. But because they are not big stepping stones in our child’s development it is easy to over look them. But these skills will be used every day from childhood to adulthood.

  • block stacking
  • bead stringing
  • pencil holding
  • drawing
  • writing
  • scissor usage

As you can see these are skills that will go with your child for a life time. These skills are part of early learning and as parents it is our job to introduce these skills.

What makes play doh perfect for fine motor development?

Okay, so here it is some of the reasons I love play doh. It is perfect for fine motor development with out taking thought in put from you as the parent!

Making it a very easy last minute busy activity that is also a learning tool!

My favorite kind!

Learning through play!

Just squeezing the play doh in their hand is using those small muscles and strengthening the connection between brain and muscles. So you don’t even have to give the any thing to go with it. This also promotes imagination and creativity!

Fine motor activities using play doh

As you can see the possibilities are endless and you really don’t need supplies. My girls also love to use a fork and pick up pieces. Self feeding with silverware is another fine motor skill.

Look at them go practicing and they aren’t even eating, and they just think it is fun to use a fork on something that isn’t food.

Guys It doesn’t have to be hard, or take a lot of prep time, or even clean up time to be a great early learning experience for your kids. And a great quite time activity!

Boost fine motor skills and creativity using play doh

What did she make you may be wondering?

A grain bin! Notice the popsicle stick that is under the one stuck in the play doh, she did that on her own because the container wouldn’t stay standing!

How incredible is that! She is only 3 and has that brain working in over drive!

Play doh clean up

My girls have a set spot that we play with play doh and that is on our wood table. This table is on wood floors, and I would not advise to play with play doh on carpet.

That is just asking for a whole lot of clean up you don’t want do! Or I know I don’t want to.

Shoot I don’t want to clean up normal messes let alone extra messes!

The girls know that is where it stay or we put it away. Sure the 1 year old tries to walk off occasionally but I just direct her back to the table while I tell her “the play doh stay at the table or we will have to clean it up.”

It works great for us!

When we are all done playing the girls put the play doh back in the container and then we put it away. I’ll be honest it is at this point I walk away!


Because play doh is so much easier to clean up once it is dry. If you try to wipe it up while it is wet you will just be smearing around.

The best way to clean up play doh with out the stress of the mess. Cleaning is hard enough as a SAHM with out kids adding to it but play doh is so important for fine motor skills. So don't let the mess scare you

Setting boundaries

I know so many have issues with play doh because of the mess but you can avoid most of it some boundaries.

It is important for your children to understand boundaries, but also know it is typical of toddlers to try to test those boundaries. Staying firm, but nice will help maintain some zen.

For us this means play doh only at the table as stated above but I also only allow one color at a time for each kid. This makes a lot less of a mess!

The kids know that when we are done we have to clean up the plah doh and I have taught them the trick of using a bigger piece of play doh to pick up the smaller pieces!

When we get everything picked up the play doh goes up where the kids can’t reach it.

Why setting boundaries is important

Not only is setting boundaries great for my own sanity it is a great thing for our kids to learn for when they go to school.

At school they will have to do centers which means certain toys stay in a specific area. They will also have to help clean up. So you will be setting them up for success!

What about play doh sets?

There are some amazing play doh sets, but some of them just cost too much money and there are some great things you can use at home to do the exact same things.

You want to make hair or noodles? Use a garlic press or lime juicer. They clean easily and if you don’t already have them in your kitchen they are essential tools that will get a lot of use one way or another.

Want to make shapes? Use cookie cutters so that the tool as multiple purposes and you aren’t having to store even more toys! Because more things means more clutter!

Not buying all of those different sets gives your children the opportunity to use their imagination and get creative. And again less clutter!!!

All you need is play doh and what you have around the house! We have tons of colors and put them all in to a tub and on a shelf. Organized and out of the way!

Speaking of organizing…

Need some inspiration? Hop on over and check out my declutter email series!

I’d love to hear what your kids have created with play doh!!!

How to get over the mess of play doh can be tough especially if you are a neat freak. But play doh is important for fine motor skills, imaginative play, and make a great busy activity.



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