Hello, my fellow home childcare providers. Today, I am sharing a Play-Dough activity with you. We will look at the benefits of using playdough in our home daycare. I will tell my story of how my carpal tunnel affected my knowledge and why fine motor activities are very important in my playschool.
The above invitation was created using these items:
- Children – we have many of them 🙂
- Doilies – these are not necessary, but they add aesthetics which I am into
- Placemat – our children love to mold on these
- Homemade playdough (these are only a google click away)
- Lakeshore number stamps – these are the long stem items in the vase (any mold will do)
- Homemade number blocks – I made summer of 2022
Playdough helps children with their fine motor skills. It helps to strengthen the finger muscles needed for writing, drawing, and many other practical life skills. Playdough, putty, clay, and any other material that helps the children to sculpt, knead, mold, pinch, pat, and twist is very valuable to their early dexterity building.
We use a playdough leaf mold here, but you can use any playdough mold you have on hand.
The number blocks were used for the invitation, which helped the children to see it + make it, which helped to facilitate their learning in a no-pressure manner. Instead of using worksheets or drills, we incorporate numbers and letters into our everyday play.
As a home childcare provider, I can attest to the value of constantly using Playdough in my home daycare. If you are not using playdough daily, I suggest trying to use the material at least twice or once weekly until it becomes a daily offering. How can this be done? Set out invitations for your children. Different invitations – some will want to play with it, and others may not. It so happens that all the children in my care love to use it. I like to make homemade playdough than store-bought ones because of the toddlers or infants who inadvertently eat nonfood items.
Playdough is an excellent sensory tool; it also helps the children’s social development as they take turns with the materials provided. It also helps their creativity – this is a number eight flower cake made by one of the children. When learning is fun, children are more engaged, talk, and build their vocabularies, which are early literacy skills.
I’ve had two carpal tunnel surgeries since operating my home daycare. The tingles and numbness in my fingers progressed for years. After my pregnancies, the additional lifting of infants in my daycare increased my carpal tunnel syndrome. For years I couldn’t have my surgeries because I needed a reliable co-teacher / assistant. Without someone working with me, I could not have had the surgeries, although I operated with constant pain in both hands. The nerves in my hands deteriorated as I awaited a reliable person to work with. I finally got someone to work alongside me, and in 2017, I did my first surgery (my left hand). I opted for my left-hand surgery instead of my dominant right hand because I wanted to ensure the surgery was a success. I had a recovery time of one to two months with weight limits of a gallon or less, and we know how impossible that is when you have a mixed-aged learning environment. We lift the infants – actually, we wear them on our hips, then we are constantly lifting the toddlers, especially when potty changing them. So the weight limit posed a challenge; however, I had to take care of my aging body, so again having someone to work with helped me through that process. I have heard many daycare workers, early years professionals feel the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome (I do not know the statistics as I did not research it).
I did the surgeries one year apart, and I can now use both hands without feeling cramps or tingling. Both surgeries were successful, I have heard other people say otherwise, but this is my success story. Yes, I still use a brace sometimes during the night. It helps to protect my hands from my body weight during those hours when I can not control my hand position. My hands will never be 100% as they were before the children; however, I can use my hands effectively with most things though the tightening or loosening of jar lids still poses a challenge.
Why Fine Motor Activities Are Important To Me
- My advocacy is that we care for ourselves and find ways to help our bodies. I waited many years for this surgery. Why?- I didn’t want to risk losing my income, fearing the daycare families would leave my practice (that was when I lived a life of scarcity – I am no longer in that mindset)—not taking care of myself for years resulted in nerve damage. Yes, when you do not take care of carpal tunnel, you run the risk of damaging the nerves in your hands which may never be fixable. My body suffered for years. My fellow daycare providers, I implore that we find alternative ways to better our health. Fortunately, I got help; having someone else in the business allowed me to care for my health. Maybe you can do the same if you put off any kind of surgery as I did – get help.
- I realized the importance of my finger strength and muscles during physical therapy. During those moments when my fingers could not move to pick up a clothespin, cheerios, or even use a peg board. You know, the very things we teach infants, toddlers, and preschoolers to use. I reflected on the children learning and the importance of always incorporating fine motor skills in children’s development. Think of a soft sponge, the ones we give children to use with water; that soft sponge was extremely difficult to maneuver during those physical therapy sessions. I had to learn how to use my thumb coordinated with my fingers, all I had taken for granted all my life. You know the concept of riding a bicycle you learn the steps, sequence, motor balance, and coordination until you master the skill; many times, we adults forget what it takes for children to master skills.
My fellow providers, may we always find ways to serve these beautiful children to the best of our ability – but remember to take care of yourself too. Until we meet next time – Enjoy the children in your care – xoxo Lots of Love, Miss Sue, aka Suzette Salmon.