When my eldest child (Big) was a baby it took several months of seeing play dough used at toddler groups and in articles and pictures online before I began to realise the potential for literacy activities. I think I saw some of the related commercial toys as quite single-use; I was not convinced. Over time, however, after seeing play dough used in a variety of interesting and creative ways (check out the Pinterest board for more ideas) I have become a big fan. However, until this week, I had never made play dough at home. Now, I am sold!
WHY make your own play dough?
-Quantity; you get loads more!
I used this recipe which worked very well, there are hundreds of variations available via Google.
Play dough is very versatile and can be easily used for letter recognition and storytelling activities. This week, however, we were up for some open-ended mark making.
Top Tip for mark making using play dough: Look in the bathroom and kitchen sections of bargain homeware shops: Wilko, Poundland and in charity shops for interesting mark-making tools.
WHY use bathroom and kitchen tools?
-They are robust, washable, and do not break as easily as ‘proper’ plastic toys!
-They are more versatile and multi-use; good for creativity, keeping them engaged and you can replace and rotate them.
-They are universally available and low-cost. (Most people already have several tools you can use, at home.)
-You can use the same tools for painting, too; cutting down on storage space.
WHAT are the learning benefits?
-Physical: developing fine motor skills which will go on to help later with pen control for writing.
-Sensory: by being exposed in a gentle way to new textures, building confidence with exploring new materials and sensations.
-Mark-making: by creating marks using any materials, children’s confidence is built in their abilities to contribute and make a difference. This also prepares them for making marks on paper as they get ready to start learning how to write.
-Speaking and Listening: Little and I had a detailed chat whilst playing using words such as bumpy, smooth, holes, rolling, push, sticky and pink! We also made polar bear footprints and cupcakes for a dinosaur…
Cost: Play dough- flour, salt, oil and water. Possibly 75p to make?
Tools: We already had most of these already. Back massager, nail brush and potato masher = £1 each.
How have you used play dough with young children? I’d love to hear your ideas!