Theraputty

The Theraputty programme is for children who have fine motor difficulties and have poor postural motor control.

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Theraputty

Theraputty is an occupational therapy intervention for children who have fine motor difficulties as well as poor postural motor control. The following are some examples of important functional tasks that the children may have difficulties with:

  • Tying shoes.
  • Zipping and unzipping.
  • Buckling and unbuckling.
  • Writing legibly and without significant muscle fatigue.
  • Playing games that require precise hand and finger control.
  • Drawing, painting, and colouring.
  • Manipulating buttons and snaps.
  • Using scissors.
  • Holding and using utensils (i.e. cutlery) properly and effectively.
  • Screwing and unscrewing.

Theraputty is a strong, non-toxic, latex free putty-like material that leaves no residue and won’t fragment, separate stain or stick to skin.  There are 6 different colours, each having a different degree of resistance when handled.  The putty can be stretched, pinched, kneaded, squeezed and separated.

Please note that you need to use the theraputty on a clean smooth surface, preferably a table.  When the theraputty is excessively stretched it can break down into fine strands, therefore care should be taken with these as they ‘stick’ to carpets and clothing.

Hand Warm Up Exercises

Carrying out the following hand exercises prior to fine motor or drawing tasks helps the child’s hands prepare for activity. The exercises are aimed at increasing the tactile and proprioceptive sensory messages the child receives from their hands. By doing this the child will have an increased sensory awareness of what their hand muscles and joints are doing.  This should help improve motor control and aid motor memory for learning movements involved in fine motor tasks such as writing.

Click here to access the Hand Warm Up Exercises

Theraputty 4 Week Programme

Theraputty 4 Week Programme

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Click here to download a 4 Week Theraputty Programme for school.

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Theraputty Exercises in Full

Theraputty Exercises in Full

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Click here to download all the theraputty exercises.

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Theraputty Videos

1. Rolling a ball

Start to mould the putty between both hands into a ball shape. Place the putty on a table/smooth surface and roll the putty into a large ball using both hands together.

2. Pancake

Complete activity 1. Flatten the ball to make a pancake (from a standing position) with one hand on top of the other and arms straight. Shoulders should be immediately above hands and the child should not be leaning too far forward i.e. arms should be at 90o to hands.

3. Sausage

Complete activities 1 and 2. Start to roll the edge of the pancake together into a sausage using both hands. Roll the putty forwards and backwards (arms and hands moving only, do not rock body back and forth while rolling). Start with fingers together when rolling then begin to spread these out as you continue to roll.

4. Volcano

Complete activities 1 and 2. Firmly secure the pancake to the table by pressing the edges down, then place fingers and thumb lightly around the edge of the pancake.  Press fingers and thumb into putty and slowly pull fingers together towards the centre.  Carry out exercise with both hands.

5. Cone

Complete activities 1 and 2 then shape the putty into a cone and stick the base to the table.  Place fingers and thumb over the top of the cone and lightly hold the putty.  Pull up on the cone, bringing the thumb and fingers together. Carry out exercise with both hands.

6. Finger Spread

Complete activities 1 and 2. Pick up the pancake from the table and close one set of fingers together. Place the pancake over the top of closed fingers. Start to slowly open out fingers spreading the putty out. Open fingers out as wide as your can. Carry out exercise with both hands.

7. Full Grip

Gather all the putty into the palm of your hand. Squeeze the putty with the fingers against the palm of the hand in a kneading motion, rolling it over and around in the hand while exerting as much pressure as possible against the resistance of the putty.

8. Fingers Only

Complete activities 1, 2 and 3. Form the putty into a barrel shape. Place arm on table with the palm facing up.  Put a roll of putty at the base of the fingers.  Curl the finger tips into the putty without moving the big knuckles. After the fingers have pressed into the putty, fold over and repeat. Carry out exercise with both hands.

9. Squeeze

Complete activities 1, 2 and 3. Form the putty into a barrel shape and place in palm of your hand.  Bend fingers around it making a fist and squeeze. Carry out exercise with both hands.

10. Thumb Press

Complete activities 1, 2 and 3. Form the putty into a barrel shape as per picture 1 and place in palm of hand. Press thumb into the putty with as much force as possible until the thumb has pressed through to the palm. Reform and repeat. Carry out exercise with both hands.

11. Finger Dig

Complete activities 1, 2 and 3. Form the putty into a barrel shape and place in palm of hand. Dig fingers into the putty until they press through the palm of the hand and form a fully clenched fist. Release the fingers, roll the putty over to reshape and repeat. Carry out exercise with both hands.

12. Finger Extensions

Complete activities 1, 2 and 3 using a smaller amount of putty than normal. Wrap putty over tip of middle finger. Bend middle finger in towards the palm of the hand. Grab the putty with the other hand then extend finger to a fully opened position with as much force as possible. The degree of resistance is controlled by the thickness of the putty held over the fingertip. Repeat with each finger. Carry out exercise with both hands.

13. Thumb Extension

Complete activities 1, 2 and 3 using a smaller amount of putty than normal. Wrap putty over the tip of thumb while it is bent toward palm of hand. Hold the loose ends down and extend the thumb to an open position with as much force as possible. Control the degree of resistance by the thickness of the putty held over the thumb tip. Carry out exercise with both hands.

14. Finger Scissors

Complete activities 1 and 2 using a smaller amount of putty than normal. Place the small ball shaped putty between index and middle fingers and squeeze until fingers meet.  Repeat with all fingers. Carry out exercise with both hands.

15. Wrist Rotation

Hold the putty in one hand. Grip putty tightly and rotate the wrist in a circular motion, first in one direction, then in the opposite direction, while pressing into the putty with as much force as possible. Carry out exercise with both hands.

16. Wrist Extension

Complete Activities 1 and 2. Rest your forearm on a table (palm down over pancake shape). Grip the putty with the fingertips and begin to peel putty from table moving wrist only keeping forearm on table. Raise wrist up to its full extension with as much force as possible. Carry out exercise with both hands.

17. Rainbow

Complete Activities 1, 2 and 3. Hold end of putty in each hand and bend putty so that both palms are facing inwards and make the putty into a rainbow shape.

18. Stretch

Complete activities 1, 2 and 3. Hold the putty with both hands in front of your chest (keeping arms out straight).  Pull it apart until it is thin.

19. Pinching

Complete activities 1, 2 and 3. Using the tip of thumb and index fingers, start pinching with the fingers held vertically above the putty, and continue to pinch along the entire sausage. Roll out a new sausage and repeat instructions above with the tip of the thumb and the next finger (until all fingers (e.g. index, middle, ring and pinkie) have pinched the sausage of putty). Carry this exercise out twice with both hands.

20. Side Pinching

Complete activities 1, 2 and 3. Start pinching with thumb and the side of each finger.  Repeat with all fingers.  The fingers not being used for pinching can either be pointed out, or tucked into the palm.  If a child struggles to isolate their ‘pinching finger’ they may need adult support to hold the other fingers out the way.

21. Finger Press

Complete activities 1, 2 and 3. Push the index finger into the putty repeatedly along the entire length of the sausage.  Roll out a new sausage and repeat instructions until all fingers (e.g. index, middle, ring and pinkie) have been pushed into the sausage of putty. Carry out exercise with both hands.

22. Doughnut Stretch

Complete activities 1, 2 and 3. Fasten ends together to form a doughnut.  Place thumb and fingers in the hole and stretch fingers outwards against the putty. Carry out exercise with both hands.

23. Mini Doughnut Stretch

Complete activities 1, 2 and 3. Hold the index finger and thumb together and wrap putty round them to form a doughnut.  Stretch the finger away from the thumb.  The thumb can be stabilised against a table top. Carry out with the thumb and the next finger (until all fingers (e.g. index, middle, ring and pinkie) have been used. Carry out exercise with both hands.

24. Finger Stretch

Complete activities 1, 2 and 3. Fasten ends together to form a doughnut. Place doughnut around the four fingers at the middle joint.  Spread fingers apart, sideways against the putty. Carry out exercise with both hands.

25. Mini Finger Stretch

Complete activities 1, 2 and 3 and make a small sausage. Fasten ends of small sausage together to form a doughnut. Wrap around the top of two fingers together then spread fingers apart. Repeat for all fingers. Carry out exercise with both hands.

26. All Finger Stretch

Complete activities 1, 2 and 3. Fasten ends together to form a doughnut. Place doughnut about the base of the fingers.  Keep fingers straight and stretch thumb sideways and spread fingers apart. Carry out exercise with both hands.

27. Twist

Complete activities 1, 2 and 3. Hold the end of the putty in both hands, twist the putty forward and backwards (like ringing a cloth) with both hands. One hand moving forwards whilst other hand moving backwards.

28. Make Your Name

Complete activity 1. Hold the ball in one hand and make a cone shape.  With thumb and finger pads of other hand, pinch off small pieces of putty by twisting and pinching at the narrow end of the cone.  Then roll into small pea shapes. Take the pea shapes and then roll into long sausages. Use the long sausages to create your name.

29. Hide and Seek

Try hiding small objects (beads, marbles, small pegs, pennies) inside the putty and then try pulling and pinching them out.

Homemade Playdough Recipe

If you do not want to use Theraputty, why not make your own playdough by following the recipe below.