Dough is a great way for parents, teachers, and therapists to address hand strengthening for writing. Playing with dough offers an important sensory component for children. It is resistive and requires in-hand manipulation to make different shapes. Children with Autism, Down Syndrome, and other special needs see dough as a way to create. Since creative activities are critical for a child’s development, phrase and discuss the ideas and creativity each child displays during play time with dough.
As a therapist, I try to structure the time I work with children to always address hand development for better handwriting. I like to take pictures of the dough we are using and have the children copy the image they see. This may require them to make a “birthday cake” or “3 pancakes”. I like to demonstrate with two hands (using bilateral coordination) how to roll a ball to build a “snowman”. Using cookie cutters and rolling pins is a fantastic way to address hand strengthening. Another idea in the classroom or at home is to roll out the dough into “snakes” and make letters out of them. I hope you find your own creative ways to address handwriting development through the use of this fun and effective product.
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As a parent of two and a therapist I am always thinking about better ways to help children develop. One idea I recommend and carry out in my own home I call, “Out and About”. This is the idea that opportunities to develop fine motor skills should always be available and “out” rather than put away in a tidy cabinet. I have 2 kids’ craft tables in my home; one upstairs and one down stairs. Every week or so, I rotate the activities on the tables. Some weeks it’s crayons on coloring books; some weeks it’s beading bins with fishing string; and some weeks it’s duct tape. Keeping fresh fine motor activities available and ready for kids fosters motivation to work on their fine motor skills.
As my kids have grown older, they often rotate the activities for me. They notice when the watercolors have sat on the craft table for a week and want a change. I love seeing them come up with new ideas too. Paper flowers, drawing a mural, creating pop-up cards for family members’ birthdays. It is truly amazing to see how creative they can be when left to their own devices. Children with special needs, Autism, and Down Syndrome all benefit from novelty. Some creativity requires demonstration on the parents’ or therapists’ part…but when the “wheels start turning”, prepare to be amazed.
For more information about The TV Teacher’s award-winning handwriting programs, please visit our website: www.thetvteacher.com