What is theraputty?
Theraputty [affiliate link] is a therapy tool that is probably best described as resistant dough/clay. It comes in a variety of different resistances/strengths depending on the skill level and hand strength of the client. The colors denote the resistance. It can be used in treatment of hand injuries or to develop hand strength/fine motor skills in adult rehab, but I find it to be a very engaging and motivating tool for my school-aged students of all ages!
Why do OTs love it?
- As a school-based occupational therapist (OT), I work a lot on fine motor skills. Incorporating theraputty into my sessions is an easy hand strength that promotes proper pencil grasp, endurance and so much more!
- Theraputty is great for sensory seekers! It engages both the tactile and proprioceptive systems with some calming deep pressure input through the hands that can be very regulating for students. I use it often as a suggestion for classroom breaks. Check out this blog and/or the self-regulation toolkit resource!
- Kids LOVE it! As OTs, we are always looking to engage students in the “just right challenge” in a meaningful [and often play-based] activity to grow skills. Theraputty does just that!
- It is easy to pair with other activities & makes a great warm up!
How does this pair with alphabet practice?
Outside of completing standard hand exercises with the theraputty, I like to incorporate alphabet letters into the activity. Many of my students have goals for handwriting. I often have them find letter beads that I have hidden in the putty as the warm up activity.
This is great because:
- there is a clear start/end to the activity
- the letters we are targeting in the session are the ones I put in the putty
- students can string the letter beads found on a pipe cleaner or string to add a bilateral coordination component
- students can make a list of the letter that they’ve found to practice letter formation
Do you have to use “theraputty”?
No! There are many different materials that you can use to build hand strength that are similar to theraputty. As we discussed in my blog on how to use play dough in the classroom, play dough has a variety of uses in OT sessions [and the classroom!]. If you are looking for a similar resistance to mid-level theraputty, I like Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty® because of all of the different themes! They even have Crazy Aaron’s Hide Inside!® [affiliate link] that already has things hidden within it if you are looking for something low-prep! For a bit of a softer resistance [for small, less strong hands], Model Magic [affiliate link] is great!
Looking for something to pair theraputty with?
Check out this *FREE* Letter File Folder Activity that would be a perfect pair for finding/matching/writing letters with your theraputty! How else do you plan to use theraputty in your OT practice or classroom? Share in the comments below!