How to Strengthen Fine Motor Skills with Modelling Clay

Use modeling clay in these fun child-led activities that provide fine motor play. The clay is ideal for strengthening fine motor muscles while supporting imagination and independent play.

fine motor preschool activity with modeling clay

This post contains affiliate links. Privacy and Disclosure


Let's strengthen fine motor skills with a fun play idea! Modeling clay is one material that is effective in supporting fine motor development.

  • 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. 

Modelling clay is firmer than regular play dough so more finger strength is required to squeeze and mold the clay. This effort contributes to developing hand muscles and coordination. 

In this post, we illustrate ways kids can use their fine motor skills - cutting, squeezing, pressing -  and math skills - sorting, stacking, counting - to make everything from a tall tower to a bowl of soup.

Find out more about the benefits of using clay for strengthening fine motor skills from Childhood 101.


UPDATE: Plastic straws like the ones used in this activity are not earth friendly and no longer recommended for purchase. Use craft sticks, paper straws or reusable straws in the activity. 


Modeling clay and straws activity


Modeling clay is perfect for kids fine motor play


Materials list

  • straws
  • scissors.



Fine motor play with modeling clay


Ways to play with modelling clay

1. Compare lengths.

Option 1: Cut straws in various lengths. Roll out strips of clay to match the lengths of the straws.

Option 2: Arrange different straw lengths in a clay base from tallest to shortest.


2. Stack circles.

Set straws into a clay base. Make circles with strips of clay.

Stack the clay circles on the straws in the clay base.


Cut and roll modeling clay for fine motor development


3. Make pretend foods.

Cut straws and clay into small pieces to make spaghetti or soup.

Use jar lids for plates, and laundry bottle tops as cups and bowls.


Clay and straws fine motor activties for preschoolers


Preschool fine motor activity with clay and straws


This activity provides fine motor and sensory play while encouraging creative and math skills. You can introduce modeling clay as a quiet time activity, or as an indoor activity on a rainy day.

Kids will be exercising muscles needed future handwriting and other developmental skills.

Let's strengthen some fine skills today!


Modeling clay activity for preschoolers



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  



Follow our Fine Motor board on Pinterest


Share this page

Share this page