Young children love to play with play dough. As it turns out, playing with play dough has amazing learning benefits as well. While poking, rolling, and squishing play dough, children develop the small muscles in their fingers and hands - the same muscles they will one day use to hold a pencil and write. Recent research also shows that using your fingers and hands actually stimulates your brain and increases the number of neural connections it makes. So when your child digs into play dough, he's not only building little figures and shapes, he's building his brain! Perhaps most important of all, play dough encourages make believe play and promotes creativity. A little lump of play dough can easily be transformed into a imaginary pet, a rocket ship, or a pretend cookie.
At Weekday School, parents volunteers make homemade play dough for our classrooms each month - thank you in advance! Having play dough at home is important too. Start by making your own play dough using our tested recipe, then try the simple activities below.
- Coil it: Show your child how to make a long dough "snake" by using the flat of her hand to roll a lump of play dough back and forth on a flat surface.
- Snip and cut: Learning to use scissors can be a challenge for many kids because it's difficult for them to hold and cut floppy paper. Try cutting play dough! Roll out half-inch thick sheets, pass out the child-safe scissors, and watch your child become a super snipper.
- Poke it: Gather some simple props from around your house and let your child go to town poking things into the play dough: birthday candles, dry spaghetti, buttons, craft sticks, etc.
Explore this blog post from "Hands On As We Grow" for even more ideas: 34 Things to Make and Do with Play Dough.