Let’s learn through play – fine motor skills edition

Looking for some fun activities to do with your little ones this week that are not only fun but actually have a huge developmental impact too?

Well we have some amazing activities in store for you, they are created by an Occupational Therapist and Early Years/Foundation Phase Teacher Bellala and have been put in practice in their therapy and classrooms as well as in our homes, the little ones just love them!

The idea of this blog post is to help you provide the child with verbal and visual cues to assist with ideation.  Ideation forms part of the planning process and this is important as it is the first step of coming up with a plan.  By asking certain questions or by placing equipment strategically, this can assist the child to further their plans independently.  If you find that the child struggles with following an instruction, guide them by providing the first step in the process only to determine whether they can continue planning independently. If the instructions are too easy for the child to do, add additional instructions which will make the activity more of a challenge.  

For all of these tasks you will need the following items to start:
– a Dough Animal play kit (if you don’t have a play kit you can also just use a pot of play dough)
– small items from around the house/garden – don’t worry you’ll be collecting these within the activity.

This week’s activities have a focus on fine motor skills, the tactile system, bilateral coordination, letter formation and spatial skills.

1. Hide & Seek


You can start this activity off by doing a little treasure hunt either outside in the garden, around the house, in the toy box or you can pre select a number of small objects for this task. Keep these objects small, giving the child this extra task of size is great for spatial skills awareness.

The idea is to hide objects in the play dough and ask the child to find them using only their sense of touch, working on their tactile system.

If you have number of different objects, you can add another task on top of this by having them close their eyes when feeling for the objects and to guess which object they are holding, before opening their eyes to see if they are correct.

It’s so much fun that you’ll be covering and uncovering objects all day.

2. Learning About Pressure


For this activity you’ll need one of our cookie cutters. Our cookie cutters are not only great for play dough fun but you can also use them for creating shapes in other craft projects, and even for baking biscuits.

So you’ll ask the child to take the cutter and press it down using two hands. They’ll practice pressing down hard and pressing softly with the cutter and then you’ll discuss what happens with light versus hard pressure.

Does light pressure cut right through the play dough?

Does hard pressure make a new shape in the play dough?

If you don’t have a cookie cutter, you can also use your dough pot or lid with the hollow side facing down.

3. Fun Way to Spell


Find a small object with a blunt point for this next one. Our favourite is a stick from the garden or some small stones.

Use the small object to indent on the play dough to practice the alphabet from A-Z. You can do this by placing small objects like stones in the letter formation or by using a sharper object like a stick to indent in thee play dough. Practice saying the letters out loud as you do this activity.

You can then move on to spelling out their name, you can help by doing your own play dough indentation or by writing with a marker on paper.


4. Memory Game

If you kept your small objects from the first activity, you can use them for this activity, if not, then it’s time for another fun treasure hunt, yay!

Place all the treasures including favourite small toys into your Dough Animal bag or a pillow slip if you don’t have a bag. Make sure your little one knows what they are putting in the bag, you can have a conversation about each object, how it smells, looks, what it feels like and what it does. 

Then, ask the child to find an item in the bag by only feeling with their hand.  This is a great activity for memory as well as tactile development.

5. Time for a Puzzle

We all love puzzles, so we’ve created a fun puzzle activity using your Childs favourite cookie cutter shape or you can use a cup/bowl to create the shape if you don’t have any cutters.

Press the cutter into the play dough to create the shape. Then ask the child to cut up the shape into 4 parts using a blunt bread knife or a dough cutter. 

Then you need to change the order of the pieces and ask the child to put the pieces back together like a puzzle.  


That's it! Loads of fun while learning through play.

And remember, that each of these activities, although they may seem simple, they are extremely stimulating and can take a lot of focus and attention for a little one to achieve.

You don’t need to do them all in one sitting but rather space them out over the week for 5 days of fun.

If you feel your little one needs a break, have them just play with the dough and objects in front of them without instruction, or they can create their own game.

The key to learning is play!

Make sure to check back for more activities, or sign up to our newsletter!