What preschooler or kindergartner doesn’t appreciate the gooey, sticky charms of clay? You may be surprised to learn that kneading and shaping this material is more than a mere pliable pastime — it can actually improve your child’s fine motor skills, which are key to handwriting and properly forming letters. To give your child a hands-on feel for the alphabet, buy a hunk of clay from a craft store and prepare for a messy learning adventure!

What you’ll need

  • One or two pieces of clay
  • A highlighter
  • A crayon or marker
  • A piece of paper

How to do it

Write a letter of the alphabet on the paper with a highlighter (your child’s first initial is a good place to start). Take the clay and demonstrate how to roll out a long, skinny snake-like shape. Let your child roll the clay so that he can build those small muscles that aid in fine motor skills. Have him mold the clay into the chosen letter and then write the same letter with a crayon or marker on the paper. Work your way through the alphabet so that your child has a chance to try his hand at different shapes.