Modeling Clay is a great tool for helping your child develop hand skills. The texture and resistance are great for building up the muscles in the hands. However, when it is time to pull out the tub of modeling clay, hold off on using all of the cool tools and gadgets.
Hasbro has made some awesome and exciting accessories to go with the rainbow of colors for modeling clay. Most of these tools do not promote the development of hand skills. These tools and modeling clay factories rely on pushing or pulling levers and holding basic tool handles. While playing with these items is not terrible for development, to make the most of this awesome Doh put the tools away and let the child’s hands work.
Learning how to keep a hand flat and active while rolling out a snake works different muscle groups than giving it a big squeeze to leave grip marks. Rolling a ball between your palms requires more control than rolling it on the table, but both encourage exposure to different textures. Pinching the Doh to squish small balls between the thumb and first finger builds up grip strength and thumb skill. Small items can be hid forcing small finger movements to hunt for objects, and making flat pancakes takes more hand strength than banging with a hammer.
The tools made for modeling clay are fun, but the creative, tactile and fine motor coordination benefits are so much greater when the child simply uses their own hands. If your child insists on using the toys, try playing without them for 10 minutes, then allow the toys. Even 10 minutes of direct hand play with modeling clay will improve overall hand strength and coordination.