I have had loads of requests for more information about Dough Gym recently so, rather than do one GIGANTIC post, I am going to do a Dough Gym post every day this week. By next weekend you will all be experts!
I first started doing Dough Gym as a Reception teacher way back in the Early 1990’s. In those days it was the policy of the school that I was working in, to start each day by getting children who couldn’t write their names to copy it through tracing paper.
It didn’t take me long to realise that there was a core group of children that were really struggling to hold their pencil, never mind recognise and write their name. For them these sessions were torture.
These children (who all happened to be boys) were missing lots of the stages of development that come before being able to triangulate and write, so, no wonder they were having difficulty!
That is where the idea for Dough Gym was born. Instead of taking off their coat and sitting down to their name card every day, they took of their coat, got their ‘membership card’ out of their drawer and did a session at ‘The Dough Gym’. A place to workout the muscles that you need to enable you to write.
Over the years I have tweaked it and refined it as my knowledge of writing development has grown. But, fundamentally the concept remains the same. It is now used in many schools and settings across the land and (when done correctly), produces excellent results.
So, (briefly) what is it?
Dough Gym is a daily physical intervention that combines the use of large pieces of dough with a series of hand and finger exercises. These strengthen and develop children’s fine and gross motor dexterity, hand/eye coordination, proprioception, balance, low load control, grip and self esteem!
(If some of the terms above mean nothing to you, don’t worry – all will become clear as the week goes on).
It is fast pace, good fun and done in time to music. It is led by an adult who calls out instructions which the children then follow using their fingers, hands and/or dough. (A bit like a Zumba class for the upper body!)
It can be used on its own with a small group of children or as part of a daily whole class physical intervention (I sometimes do it as part of ‘Funky Fingers’. More on that later).
Whatever you do, and however you do it, it must be based on accurate assessment and linked to specific physical development. Just slapping, squeezing or poking a lump of dough in time to music might be great fun, but it will give you very limited impact – if any!
Okay, this is how the posts will work across the week.
Gross Motor Physical Development – What to assess
Fine Motor Physical Development – What to assess
Creating a Dough Gym – Activities and Exercises
Funky Fingers – Extending Dough Gym
Recipes – Using Malleable Materials for their Malleability
If you have any specific questions as the week goes on then ask them as a ‘comment’ and I will do my very best to answer them for you.
Looking forward to our ‘Doughy’ week!