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The benefits of play dough play: hand writing, fine motor skills, creativity, and more!

How To Reap the Many Benefits of Play Dough

photo via LPF Designs.


I’ve been meaning to do a post on the benefits of play dough for a while now.  I don’t know about you, but I loved the stuff as a kid.  Maybe it’s the nostalgia factor, but even now there’s something almost cathartic about playing with it.  As it turns out, it’s great for the little ones too.  

You may remember I featured Jennifer Hallissy’s book The Write Start: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, from Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories in this post on fostering a love of writing in kids.  I recently came across an interview with Jennifer here in which she names play dough as one of her preferred writing tools for little kids.

She says the dough is great for strengthening the muscles involved in holding a pencil and writing.  (For a list of specific activities that encourage this type of muscle development, be sure to check out this post from Childhood 101.)

Jennifer also suggests incorporating letter making into your play dough time (either by hand or with cookie cutters) to encourage letter recognition.

Along with developing fine motor skills, play dough is also a great toy for stimulating the imagination.  Often kids don’t need anything more than their own two hands to come up with all sorts of interesting ways to play with it.

When that gets old, it usually only takes a few simple tools to get those creative juices flowing again.  For ideas on what to include in your play dough tool kit, check out these helpful posts at Rhythm of the Home and Sew Liberated.

*Post contains affilate links



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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

rachelle @ tinkerlab.com February 17, 2011 at 7:18 am

HI Steph! Thanks for sharing these great links. I have a couple more to add…

Some of the tools we used when my daughter was almost 2:

Our amazing play dough recipe:


Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com February 17, 2011 at 7:52 am

Hi Rachelle,

Thanks for your contributions. We also have the Melissa and Doug tools and love them.



Scorpland February 17, 2011 at 3:13 pm

In our preschool we love to cut up playdough snakes with scissors to also build scissor skills…


sasha February 17, 2011 at 11:05 pm

i love this product! thanks for sharing!


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Kellie at MiniMustHave February 17, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Great tips Steph. In my previous life as a teacher we used playdough all the time with kids who needed help with their fine-motor skills.


The Part Time Domestic Goddess March 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I’m also a great fan of playdough! In fact, my newest post is about playdough.


Anonymous August 24, 2011 at 6:56 pm



Anonymous August 17, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Our kids all love using plastic animals – the possibilities are endless!!!!


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