By: Laura Petix, MS OTR/L

Are we ever really too old to be playing with play dough? I, for one find it extremely therapeutic. If you’re a young elementary school teacher, a parent or a therapist- I know you have some play dough accessible- even during quarantine!

Play dough is so versatile, and I’m sure I can think of maybe 101 different ways to play with it, but for today- let’s stick to our theme: graded force.

If you need a quick introduction to graded force, you can read a little more about it and a long list of activities here. 

Why playdough works on graded force

You can roll it, twist, cut it, poke it, stamp it, squish it and mold it. 

You only need a small amount of pressure (force) to change it’s shape or make an imprint.

If you’re cutting shapes, you’ll need to push hard enough for the cookie cutter to break through.

If you’re rolling playdough balls, you need to adjust your pressure as you move from forming it’s shape to slightly molding it’s rounded edges.


1. Playdough

I’m creating this from #quarantineland so you know these are easy to find materials around any household (or clinic).

Sit down.

Are you ready for this long list? Get your pen and paper ready. 


How To

  1. Pull apart 3 equal size pieces of playdough
  2. Roll the playdough between the palms of your hands or between the fingers to make rounded circles. 
  3. Practice pushing each ball down with varied force :level 1 light pressure, level 2 medium pressure, level 3 hard pressure.
  4. Repeat
  5. Add challenge by calling out what level you want the child to push each time. 


Developmental Motor Skills & Activities


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Laura Petix, MS OTR/L

I’m an enneagram 6, so my brain is constantly moving. My OT lenses never turn off and I can’t “un-see” the sensory and other developmental skills that go in to literally every activity. I love taking what I see and breaking it down into simple terms so parents can understand what goes into their child’s behavior and skills.

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