You don’t necessarily think of Play Doh as a tool to help with handwriting, but Reception classes are very familiar with it as a classroom writing tool. In fact, before picking up their pencils, they love nothing more than grabbing a handful of Play Doh and putting on some groovy music at the Dough Disco to warm up their fingers!
Mrs Causer is a great advocate of these type of exercises:
‘At Thorpe each child is treated as an individual and specific learning programmes are put in place to suit the diverse abilities which are often found in Reception classes. Therefore, it is common for the boys to be supported in very different ways from one another when it comes to their writing skills. Initially, I look at where the boys are in terms of their dexterity and then develop a programme to extend and challenge them. After lots of exercises to strengthen shoulders, wrists and arm rotations – the boys adore using their magic ribbon wands – a strong focus is then placed on developing palm strength and pincer grip exercises ready for writing.’
The Dough Discos concept is the brain child of EYFS consultant and trainer Shonette Bason-Wood and she developed it to prepare children for writing activities. The ‘disco’ is a workout for the fingers and uses Play Doh which the boys lift, bowl, pinch, squeeze and roll to improve their fine motor and gross motor skills. The disco also has neurological benefits as it accelerates brain to finger control.