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Saturday, February 8, 2020


Play dough is multi-sensory, engaging, creative, and open-ended. Talk about PURPOSEFUL PLAY! Play dough can be a tool just like a worksheet, video game, or PPT.  Although play dough wasn't invented until the 1950's, molding materials, such as clay, have been an integral part of early childhood programs forever.  For thousands of years children have played with mud and sand joyfully.  Why, then, are some administrators making a "fuss" about having play dough available for children?  I'm writing this blog because those of us who believe in hands-on learning and integrating play with skills have a responsibility to share this information that supports "developmentally appropriate" while meeting the needs of the WHOLE child!


Brain Research 
When children tap and swipe on a device or sit passively gazing at a big screen there is little sensory input in the brain.  We know that the only way information can get IN the brain is through the senses.   Think about how much more input there is when children touch, see, talk, and hear when they are using play dough.

Small Motor Skills
Pinching, squeezing, rolling, and molding dough is like sending little fingers to the gym.  Many children's small muscles are not developed and they struggle to hold a pencil and write.  Play dough is a natural way to strengthen those little hands.

Social Skills
All you have to do is put out some play dough for a small group of children and observe.  They will learn to share and spontaneously communicate with their friends about what they are making.  They'll also challenge their friends to be creative.

Emotional Skills
Play dough is a great release for children who are stressed or have the fidgets.  As they manipulate the material they can release pent up energy and calm themselves.

So many crafts and things we give children have steps and a "model" for them to reproduce.  Play dough is a blank canvas that can be turned into anything!  Whatever the child creates is theirs and represents the "process" rather than the "product."

Provide children with play dough, popsicle sticks, plastic knives, scissors, cookie cutters, toothpicks...etcetera've got the idea!  Children can plan, use tools, and construct over and over.

Holiday and Seasonal Activities
Early childhood teachers abound with ideas of coloring play dough and adding sensory materials for different seasons.  Pumpkin spice is perfect for the fall, while cinnamon is a nice addition for Valentine's day.  


Is there a wrong way to use play dough?  No way!  It's all good and children of all abilities can have fun and feel good about what they are creating.

I've got tons of ways to use play dough to reinforce skills, but I've got to go catch a plane.  In a few weeks I will do a Facebook Live on PLAY DOUGH POWER and I'll also create a free PLAY DOUGH RECIPES FOR LEARNING packet for you. 

Thumbs up for play dough!!!!