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A therapist’s love letter to play dough

Dear play dough,

You often get a bad wrap because of some of your less redeeming qualities. Parents often complain that you’re too messy, you get stuck under our fingernails and your small particles tend to travel all over the house. Some people even think you smell bad. Even worse, some parents ban you from their house all together.

But, guess what? As speech and occupational therapists, we LOVE you! You have so many redeeming qualities, especially for the kiddos we treat here at Cowtown Pediatrix. So here we are, advocating for your acceptance and explaining the many benefits a seemingly “simple” toy like you has.

  1. Fine motor skills development. You are great for strengthening and building muscle tone in our little one’s hands. With all the squishing, rolling, flattening and squashing, kids don’t even realize what an intense workout their hands are getting. Without properly developed muscle tone in their hands, kids aren’t able to learn to cut, write or many of the other skills needed for PreK and beyond.

  2. Stress relief. Who knew that just sitting and squashing or rolling you around in our hands could be so calming? You help ease tension, release extra energy and improve focus and concentration.

  3. Creativity and imagination. You come out of the canister as a big blob forcing kids to use their creativity to turn you into shapes, monsters, food and so much more.

  4. Sensory development. You offer so much in the way of sensory development. Sensory seeking children can squish, squash, and roll the play dough to give themselves proprioceptive and tactile feedback. For our sensory avoiders, we like to get our kiddos used to how you feel and smell.

  5. Hand eye coordination and motor planning. In order for kids to cut, poke and prod you (sorry if it hurts!), kids have to use their hands and eyes and motor planning skills to complete the task.

  6. Social skills and language development. Talking to our kids about what color you are, what they’ve made you into and how you feel and smell are great ways to build language development. Creating a group activity where kids work together to make things with you is a great way to develop their social and communication skills with each other.

We could go on and on about the many reasons we love you … but these will do for now.


All of the therapists at Cowtown Pediatrix

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