Ok, So why play dough?
Well we all know that play dough is fun and popular with young children, but apart from making a mess what is it really good for?
- providing a meaningful context for children to learn concepts and skills;
- making learning fun and enjoyable;
- encouraging children to explore and discover together and on their own;
- allowing children to extend what they are learning;
- encouraging children to experiment and take risks;
- providing opportunities for collaborative learning with adults and peers;
- allowing for the practice of skills.
Calming and soothing:
As any adult who has played with dough can tell you, the effects of all that squeezing and pummelling are great for stress relief and can feel extremely therapeutic! Little children can struggle to express their emotions and using dough while talking and singing can really help that process.
Maths and Literacy development:
In more focused play, play dough can be used as a fantastic way to practise letter and number work. Children can form letters of the alphabet, spell out their own name, make numbers, form 2D and 3D shapes, compare lengths/ thicknesses/ weights, count out rolled balls to match numeral cards, match and sort by colour and so many more ideas too!
Poking in objects and pulling them out of play dough strengthens hand muscles and co-ordination. As part of simple, tactile play it can be squashed, squeezed, rolled, flattened, chopped, cut, scored, raked, punctured, poked and shredded! Each one of these different actions aids fine motor development in a different way, not to mention hand-eye co ordination and general concentration. And as soon as you add another element to it, the list of benefits and creative play possibilities continues to grow! Having a wide range of additional extras to use while playing extends the investigation and play possibilities endlessly. Poking in sticks provides a challenge and a new physical skill. Squeezing through a garlic press leads to wonder and amazement at seeing it change shape, as well as using a gross motor movement to accomplish it. Sticking in spaghetti requires a delicate hand and can lead to threading and stacking pasta shapes or beads over the top. Providing boxes and containers with various shaped compartments can lead to cooking play, sorting, matching, ordering and counting, all naturally and without pressure to learn.
By providing objects from nature with a wide range of textures, colours and shapes, children can have multi-sensory experiences and engage with the world around them in a whole new way.
All of these elements below can be used to create plenty of exciting, open-ended play times:
List of additional textures to add to play dough: