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Modelling Activities for Developing Hand Strength (that are also calming and creative!)

Activities for developing hand strength at HWM

It's so nice on a cold rainy day to do some beeswax modelling with the children. Beeswax is firm and needs to be warmed with hands (or a cup of warm water) to be pliable. So it is a really warming activity. It is a slow, calming activity and I think the scent is quite nice too. 

Modelling is a rich, sensory experience. It allows for exploration, expression and creativity. It allows children to use their hands, strengthen their hand muscles and to create something potentially for imaginative play or story telling. Modelling can be healing too, shaping and forming with our hands, transferring our energy into our creation or into the earth (as with natural clay) can be restorative.

Activities such as colouring, drawing, cutting and kneading bread can also be very good for developing hand strength. Caspar (8 yrs) has always struggled with his pencil control and handwriting. Since he was three his teachers would tell me to do more modelling with him, do more work with clay to strengthen his hands. However Caspar got bored with clay, he didn't love the texture. So I looked around for other options. There are a ton of modelling options and here are some of our favourites.  

  • Clay - Terracotta / Air Dry. Can be very messy but so much fun. Recommended by our teachers. 
  • Modelling Beeswax. Very warming (you need to warm the wax to make it pliable) I would recommend from 3-5 years. Sarah from Bella Luna has a wonderful video on how to use modelling beeswax here, which I highly recommend if you are using modelling beeswax for the first time. 
  • Plasticine / Modelling Clay. Much firmer than playdough, doesn't try out, not for younger children, can feel tacky. I would recommend from 3-5 years.
  • FIMO or Sculpey. Oven-hardening, soft and smooth modelling clay  - perfect for making beads which kids often love to make rolling the clay in their hands, or other long lasting gifts or ornaments.  

I'd love to hear if your children enjoy any of these modelling activities or if there is something I have missed!

Sources: 1. Eco-Dough / 2. DAS Clay White and Terra Cotta (Australia here) / 3. Modeling Beeswax (Australia here) / 4. Modelling Clay (Australia) / 5. FIMO (Australia here).

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