Here are some of our favourite ways to play with playdough that are not only fun, but help to develop important skills too.
Why we love playdough play!
Playdough is a great tool for learning - the possibilities are endless!
Playdough is fantastic for developing strength in your little ones hands. The rolling, stamping, pinching, poking, twisting and squishing are all great for developing fine motor skills and hand eye-coordination too. It is also wonderful for developing creativity and imagination as children are free to create and play however they want.
Playdough can be a great tool for learning too - the possibilities are endless! We will share a few ways that we have enjoyed playing with playdough - some simple and some requiring a few bits and pieces.
*Please note all play ideas in this post were supervised play by an adult. Small parts are for children ages 3+. Always supervise your child while playing.
We usually make our own homemade playdough in the Thermomix following the recipe in the Basic Cookbook. It makes really soft playdough that lasts for ages. We separate the dough in two bowls/bags after it is cooked and kneed through the colouring. If our playdough starts to get a bit dry or tough, I simple add in a few drops of olive oil to it and kneed through to make it soft again! This trick works to extend the life of the playdough and makes it soft again.
Playdough & Scissors
This is a great way to learn to use scissors. You can buy special playdough scissors. Help your little one roll the playdough into snakes to cut with the scissors.
Playdough and Stamps
A fun and simple way to play with playdough. Playdough stamps can be bought or homemade. Craft stores and shops like Kmart sell little packs of wooden embellishments that can be used to make your own stamps at home. With some hot glue and something to stick them on, you can have your own stampers made in no time. A plastic bottle top of a large carton of milk would work, or off cuts of wood. I used wooden rings and a cardboard circle to make ours pictured below, as that was what I had already at home.
Miss 1 enjoys playing with playdough with our large stamps and trying to make prints (play is closely supervised).
Playdough with Animal Figurines
Another great way to play with playdough is to add in a few animal figurines. For little ones, one or two animals and some playdough is enough to encourage some play. For older children you can add some other elements to create a small world. This can be as simple or elaborate as you and your child would like it to be. I usually involve Miss 4 in the creation of these types of play, as it engages her in it for longer. For this flamingo small world below we used some of our Grimms pebbles and trees, some Grapat mandala pieces and a homemade tree to set the scene.
Playdough and Loose Parts
Take a simple tray filled with some loose parts (buttons, beads, gemstones, counters etc.) and add in some different coloured playdough for some creative fun.
I usually ask Miss 4 what loose parts she would like to use. Below she enjoyed using fruit counters and crystal chips. She used them to make little ice-cream cups with her playdough.
Small parts for ages 3+
Simply add in some patty cases, birthday candles and beads for a fun time making cupcakes. This one is great and one that we come back to again and again, because it is always enjoyed. Depending on the age of your child you can add in different loose parts e.g. buttons, sequins, gems, fruit counters, crystal chips, or pom poms to make it more interesting.
This one can also lead to some fun role-play having a tea party, singing Happy Birthday, or running a cupcake shop.
Roll out the dough, add in some cookie cutters and some items to decorate and let the fun begin! We used sequins, gemstones and pony beads for decorations. Use some stamps to leave a cute print and then decorate.
Coloured Playdough Platter
Choosing one or more colours of playdough and some matching coloured loose parts can make a colourful playdough tray.
Sometimes we choose one colour and add some matching coloured loose parts, like in this purple playdough tray below.
Purple Playdough Invitation: Miss 4 made a boat for the eggs.
Other times it might be several colours. In the tray below we used yellow, purple and pink to create a beautiful tray. Miss 4 helped me to hunt around the house to find loose parts in each of the colours.
The round tray underneath is a wooden board from Kmart found in the kitchen section. The sectioned tray holding the loose parts is QToys brand, which we bought online from Rata & Roo Toys.
Invitation to Create
This is one that was set up based on Miss 4's interest in bugs. We used a tray of loose parts - pipe cleaners, googly eyes, pieces of wood, mini bugs & flowers (CollectA toobs). Miss 4 decided what to make with the loose parts. This is a great way to encourage creativity while playing.
Everyday Play with Playdough
Most the time we simply grab some playdough out and add a few simple stamps or cutters to make it fun. We have a playdough kit that lives in our dining room. The girls can choose which colour playdough they would like to use and then some stamps, cutters, other items to use with it.
Sometimes we enjoy something a bit fancier, which is when we will use one of these ideas from above.
Try not to fall into the trap of thinking that fancier = better play, because it doesn't. My girls like simple things and play for longer when they have input into what is put out for them to play with, when it follows their interests and when they help make the special set up. The vast majority of our 'real' everyday play does not look 'pretty', but this does not make it any less fun, meaningful or purposeful for my little ones.
We hope you found some ideas to try and will have some fun of your own playing with playdough with your little ones.
Until next time, have fun learning in a playful way!
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