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 How Parents Can Help Their Children Get Ready
for Kindergarten: Enhancing Fine Motor Skills with Play-Dough!



One of the biggest complaints kindergarten and first grade teachers have today are students who can't hold pencils, crayons, and scissors correctly and comfortably. In the past, they may have had a few students with poor fine motor skills and weak hand muscles (common for children with autism), but now they have far too many. Some students have under-developed pincer grasps, meaning they can't coordinate their thumbs and index fingers. This severely impedes their ability to write, color, and cut. So, you may be asking, what's at the root of this problem and what can we parents do about it? Fortunately, both questions are easy to answer.


The problem stems from too much time in sedentary pursuits: sitting in front of the dreaded screens. The preschool years were once the prime time for children to move, do, and play. Fine motor activities were a huge part of this with kids stacking blocks, building with Legos, painting at easels, stringing beads, and playing games such as Don't Break the Ice and Hi Ho! Cherry-O. Today, preschoolers are spending far too much time looking at Ipads, playing on cell phones, and watching television.


Parents can easily remedy this by adding one simple activity to their home routines: play-dough time! When my siblings and I were little, my mother made a fresh batch of play-dough for us once a month. We'd sit for hours at the kitchen table – rolling it into snakes, pushing it into a garlic press, flattening it with the rolling-pin, cutting it with scissors, and shaping it with cookie cutters. There's no better way to encourage fine motor skills and build up those hand and finger muscles!





PLAYDOUGH
2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons oil
food coloring

Combine all ingredients and cook over medium heat. Mixture may seem gooey at first but continue to cook until suddenly, it's play-dough!

*Be sure to cook and fold well at the end.



FlUBBER
Mix together in bowl #1:
2 cups water
2 cups white glue

Mix together in bowl #2:
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon Borax (natural laundry detergent – 20 Mule Team Borax).
Mix bowl #2 with bowl #1.
Stir and pull out one lump of Flubber
Mix another recipe of bowl #2 and again add it to bowl #1.
Pull out another lump of Flubber.
Continue this process until bowl #1 is gone (approximately 4 times).
*Store Flubber in an airtight container.

OOBLECK

2 cups corn starch
3 drops green food coloring
enough water to make a thick mixture (about the texture of pancake batter)
**I typically measure equal amounts water and corn starch but mix water in gradually.
Mix all ingredients together.

Investing in high quality play-dough tools is worth it! Your child will have hours of fun rolling, pounding, and creating. All the while she'll be enhancing her fine motor skills without even knowing it. These age-appropriate tools will get your child ready for the tasks required of them in kindergarten and first grade.

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