Updated: Oct 3
At Wildlings, we love playdough! Such a simple play material can provide so many fun learning opportunities.
What are the benefits of playdough?
😌Emotional regulation 😌
Squeezing, twisting, poking, bashing, rolling and moulding playdough can be a great way for children to release excess energy or ease any tension they may be feeling. The sensory experience of handling playdough can be relaxing and calming. Playing with playdough can also help to improve a child's focus, either as something to fiddle with when focussing on another task, or by allowing children the opportunity to spend extended time focussing on an enjoyable creative activity.
🧑🎨 Encourages creativity 🧑🎨
One of the great things about playdough is how open ended it is. There is no right or wrong way to play with play dough, it can become anything the child what's it to be. It can be used in any way they choose. Playdough provides the opportunity for children to use their imagination and be as innovative as they like.
✍️ Fine motor skills ✍️
Playdough is fantastic for developing the small muscles in children's hand and fingers. These muscles, which are essential for hand and finger control for writing, are naturally strengthened by prodding, squishing, pulling and rolling the dough during play.
📖➗Literacy and numeracy skills ➗📖
Playdough provides a plethora of opportunities to develop understanding of mathematical concepts such as size, weight, shape, comparisons, shape, division, addition and subtraction in play by an adult commentating on what the children can see happening using mathematical language.
👐👀 Hand-eye co ordination 👀👐
Manipulating the dough using hands and equipment such as rolling pins, cookie cutters, stamps, knives, forks or scissors help children to develop and improve hand-eye coordination.
👫 Improves social skills 👫
While playing with playdough with their peers, children have lots of opportunities to chat, share, negotiate turn taking. Adults can encourage language development through the use of descriptive words and narrating children's activities. In turn, the development of language allows for greater opportunities for deeper interactions with peers. The open ended nature and the fact there is no right or wrong with it also helps to build children's self esteem.
🌎 Understanding the world 🌍
Children's understanding of the world around them can be developed through role playing with playdough. When allowed to make their own playdough, the process can become a great science experiment and children explore what happens as they add more flour or more water to the mixture. or how different food colourings combine.
Most importantly, as with all great Early Years learning opportunities playdough is great playful fun!
Our favourite Playdough recipe:
2 cups plain flour
2 tablespoons cooking or baby oil
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 to 1.5 cups boiling water (stir as you add, it will be sticky at first)
gel or liquid food colouring (optional)
essential oils (optional)
Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl
Mix any colouring you want to use into the boiling water
Add boiling water into the dry ingredients, mixing as you go
Add a few drops of essential oils at this point if you would like to add fragrance to your playdough
Allow it to cool enough to touch, then knead vigorously for a couple of minutes until all of the stickiness is gone. *This is the most important part of the process so keep kneading until it's the perfect consistency*
If it remains sticky add a sprinkle of flour until it's just right
Allowing your child to experiment with the ingredients to find their own perfect (or not so perfect!) combination is just as valuable as following a recipe. Just use cool water instead of boiling, and let them get creative discussing the process and results together as you go.
Add loose parts, natural materials, stamps, and tools for mark making, cutting, rolling or squeezing. Leave it as open ended as possible and let you little one's imagination take it in any direction they choose. Freezing playdough is another great way to provide variety to the experience. Frozen playdough provides a fantastic texture for scissor practice.
However you do your dough, don't forget to use it as an opportunity to chat, explore and have fun together.