How to Strengthen Fine Motor Skills with Modelling Clay

Modelling clay is flexible and strong, making it ideal for fine motor practice. Using their cutting, rolling and stacking skills, kids can make everything from a tall tower to a bowl of soup with modelling clay and straws.

Modeling clay fine motor activities - Preschool Toolkit

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Fine motor ability is essential for the development of handwriting skills, and is supported with activities that help strengthen and coordinate kids hands and fingers. Find out more about the benefits of using clay for strengthening fine motor skills from Childhood 101.

Modelling clay is firmer than regular play dough so more finger strength is required to squeeze and mold the clay. This is a great hands-on activity for developing hand muscles and coordination. 


Modeling clay fine motor activities - Preschool Toolkit

Supplies for fine motor play:

  • plastic straws
  • modelling clay
  • scissors.

Modeling clay fine motor activities - Preschool Toolkit


Learning through play:

  • Cut straws in various lengths, then roll out strips of clay to match.
  • Arrange the different straw lengths in a clay base from tallest to shortest.
  • Make circles with strips of clay and stack them on the straws set into a clay base.


Modeling clay fine motor activities - Preschool Toolkit

  • Cut up straws and clay to make spaghetti or soup, using jar lids for plates and bowls.

Modeling clay fine motor activities - Preschool Toolkit


This activity combines creativity with engineering and provides fine motor and sensory play.

You can introduce it as a quiet time activity that will keep kids busy while you prepare dinner. Invite kids to play with modelling clay indoors on a rainy day.

The added benefit is knowing kids are strengthening muscles they will use for handwriting.


Supplies for this fine motor activity on Amazon




More play with clay!

Finger painting with clay from Best Toys 4 Toddlers

Clay and pipe cleaner spider from The Imagination Tree

Color mixing with clay from The Jenny Evolution

Build a nest with modeling clay from Powerful Mothering

Creating with modeling clay from Craftulate  



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