“When children use playdough, they explore ideas and try different approaches until they find one that works.”
First…Play dough Benefits & Child Development
Social and emotional development
Creating with playdough lets children feel competent (“I’m good making balls with the dough”) and proud of their accomplishments (“Look! I made a pancake”). Pounding, flattening, and squeezing are healthy and safe outlets for extra energy. They can also help children cope with strong feelings- stressed or angry.
Creativity and imagination
With playdough, children express their ideas through art and make-believe play. At the same time, they learn symbolic thinking by pretending that the playdough is something else (“The blue circle is the ocean and the red dots are fish”).
Language and Literacy
Children use language to invent stories about their playdough creations. Child may use facts or ideas from books they have read. Children also refer to things they did or saw in their everyday lives (“This is my birthday cake when I turned 4”).
Children learn about science through hands-on experiences. They learn by observing, thinking, and talking about how materials feel and how they change (scientific thinking).
While children participate making play dough they can measure and count. They may learn about measurement and numbers by filling the cup and comparing the size of teaspoons and tablespoons, and about counting as they add the ingredients.
Children also note changes in shape and size as they comment on, compare, and contrast the objects they make (“I made a square” and “Mine is a tiny ball and yours is big”). Others notice who has more or less play dough.
Have you ever found yourself making play dough and only adding cookie cutters? Try creating a play dough invitation for children!
An invitation to play should…
-Capture a child’s curiosity
-Be intentional in design and purpose
-Be appropriate for the age of children you teach
-Include materials that the children can freely touch, manipulate, and explore
Simply stated, an invitation to play is arranging the environment so that it “invites” young children to come to an area in your classroom to explore, investigate, question, examine, participate, touch, feel, and manipulate through as much independent play as the materials can possibly allow.-TeachPreschool
Getting Started with Creating an Invitation to Play with Play dough in 3 Steps
- Begin with a tray
- Prepare your play dough
- Add your accessories/loose parts to enhance play
Setting up invitations to play are super easy. Use a tray to arrange all the loose parts for play in an inviting way. But this is not necessary, you could simply place them out on the play table and invite children to play!
I have included in this blog post some of the beautiful invitations to play I have come across while browsing the internet– lots of ECE Eye Candy!!
Other Loose Parts/Accessories to Consider:
- Birthday candles
- Bottle caps
- Cookie cutters
- Garlic press (be prepared to give it up forever)
- Large buttons and other objects that can be pressed into the playdough to make a design
- Leaves, twigs, pebbles
- Plastic knives, forks, and spoons
- Rolling pin or bottle
- Small toy people and animals
- String or shoelaces
- Tea strainer
- Toothpicks (only for older children)