We have played with play dough in the past, always homemade. For D’s birthday we were given some of the real-deal Play-Doh! I hate to admit it but it is so much better. I love the process of making play dough and the variety of things that you can add- glitter, herbs and spices to make it special- but I have yet to find a recipe that reproduces the real stuff properly.The real stuff sticks to together better, lasts longer in our humid climate and has beautiful, bright colors…I’m choosing to overlook the chemicals that help give it these properties.
Anyhoo….we have been playing with the stuff everyday since his birthday because he loves it! But is it really a beneficial activity…why yes, yes it is.
The moldable properties of play dough make it fun for investigation and exploration, while it secretly it strengthens his hands so that eventually he can hold a pencil and scissors.
We even explored stacking the tubs on top of on one another (tricky business)…yet another fine motor/spatial awareness activity.
Creativity and Imagination
I love giving Darwin extra materials like buttons, googly eyes, pasta, straws, popsicle sticks, etc. etc. that increase the creative play possibilities. We just keep an extra box to put materials in as they turn up around the house- the junk drawer is a great place to find errant items to add.
Today we made a series of fruits and vegetables, of course Darwin’s favorite was broccoli.
He is also, really into birds and eggs now, so we had to make a couple (try more than 20) eggs…molding the eggs teaches him how moving his hands in space around the dough either makes a long snake or a round ball.
In addition to the eggs we needed somewhere to put them and someone to care for them- hence a mama bird and her nest.
And a bigger nest to fit more eggs…
And since the bird is sleeping she needs a blanket, and a snake to keep her company (duh).
Speech and Language
Playing with dough helps increase vocabulary as we talk about what foods we should make next or what animals to create.
A snake to eat the eggs, yum!
We are currently learning colors and how to match like items. Play dough gives many opportunities to work on identifying colors and matching like colors and shapes with one another.
Literacy, Math and Science
As Darwin gets older we can use play dough to practice letter and number work. You can form letters of the alphabet, form 2D and 3D shapes, compare lengths/ thicknesses/ weights, count out rolled balls to match numeral cards…to name a few ideas too!
The actual act of making the play dough together can lead to lots of questioning and hypothesizing skills. Here we have some solid materials (flour, salt etc) to which we are going to add some liquids (oil, water.)
What do you think will happen?
What can we make?
What will it be like if we leave out the oil, or the salt?
Kiddos gets to explore and observe the changing state of materials in a hands-on way, and be filled with wonder as the bowl of unrelated ingredients comes together to form a sticky then smooth and squishy ball of dough! We often take these things for granted, but in the eyes and hands of a kiddo that’s quite some transformation!