Going beyond rolling balls and strips and using the rolling pin. My hope is that you find some great ideas for your child and continue to explore and hopefully join Operaton Connect.
Hide small objects into the playdough and have your child seek through it to find them. This is fun and gets your childs hands moving. Great exercise. Use coins, beads, buttons, broken crayon pieces, paper clips, But DON"T hid any sharp or pointy objects. My husband hid my daughter's name using alpha-beads in the dough. Once she found all the letters they worked together to put them in the correct order and then stamped each bead into the playdough as pictured above.
Have your child practice pushing an object into the playdough to help build their pincer grasp. If the pipe cleaner is too difficult try using toothpicks (with sharp ends removed), paper clips or short straws.
Using scissors can be a very difficult skill to learn. My girls have benefitted greatly from having adapted scissors. Now they love to cut things. Over time I was losing alot of paper and constantly sweeping up little pieces of paper. So I decided to have my child flatten out a piece of playdough and cut it. It presented them with a challenge and me with less of a mess and paper saved. Plus I think playdough is more fun for them to cut than paper. They seem to prefer it now.
Squeezing is a very tough fine motor concept for my girls. I am finding that this is really testing the strength in their little hands and this provides them with good exercise. You could use any household object to stick into the playdough such as coins, game pieces rubber bands. You can also opt for small tongs or kids tweezers to better modify for your child's specific learning needs. if getting a hold of the items as they lay flat is too dificult, sit the objects upright in the playdough your child can get a better grasp on he object.
A favorite for my girls. The pony beads were to easy of a target so I got the buttons back out and that was a bigger, but attainable challenge for them. Please rememer the clip of the sharp ends of your toothpicks before letting your child learn with them.
Help your child roll a large chunk of playdough into a ball (this was one Play-Doh jar). Then stick a narrow dowel or skewer (with the sharp pount clipped off) in the center and begin stacking. I used fruit loops to stack but you could used any looped objects: Cheeries, Apple Jacks, Pony Beads
Another fun and challenging activity. Stick paper clips upright into the playdough and create a quick hook. I used wire and a clothes pin. I found that the clothes pin was thicker and easier for my girls to hold onto than a wire attached to a pencil. Nevertheless, the pencil does work. Wire was a great place to start because it does not move. I will soon modify this by using a string versus a wire so that my girls have to work harder at hooking the pins.
Create small dot pictures on scraps of regular printer paper. Then have your child flatten out a piece of playdough and firmly press the dotted paper onto the playdough. Have your child poke through the paper on each dot. When finished pull the paper back to see the design let on the playdough. My daughter is using a tiny screw driver to poke holes but you could also use a long nail, sharpened pencil, pen or dulled toothpick. TIP: When creating the dot designs for your child keep your dots about an inch from the edges of the scrap paper. Also, don't put the dots to close together, not only does the paper not hold up very well but it has proven to be frustrating for my children when they are doing the design. I would say keep the dots about 1/4 inches apart.
Links to Products
Adapted Scissors: http://www.amazon.com/Maped-Spring-Scissors-Assorted-037910/dp/B0013NDVCM/ref=sr_1_4?s=office-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1329685672&sr=1-4
Kids Tweezers: http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Resources-Easy-Tweezers-LER1963/dp/B00361NV88/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329685769&sr=8-1
Alpha Beads: http://www.amazon.com/White-Plastic-Alphabet-Beads-Letters/dp/B0047XVSB6/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1329685892&sr=8-18 I have also found these at Craft stores in smaller quantities.