The Joy of Playdough
At Overton Preschool Playgroup we love playdough, as it is a great resource for children in many ways:
· It is totally open ended as it can be modelled into almost anything, sparking their creativity and imagination. There is no right or wrong way to use it, all children can feel successful and proud of their creations.
· Manipulating the dough is great to develop hand muscles, and without strong hands children can’t learn to write. Every day at Preschool the children enjoy dough gym, which involves using playdough to music, copying the specific hand movements of the teacher focusing on different areas of the fingers and hands. Dough gym is great fun and the children love to choose the music, but as well as being fun it is a great way to develop and improve children's fine motor skills, hand strength and hand-eye coordination. Fine motor skills, hand strength and hand-eye coordination are essential when it comes to holding a pen, writing, holding and manipulating different materials.
· It’s incredibly calming (think stress balls) and can be a great way to help small children struggling with big emotions or needing to unwind.
· It can also be used in a more directed way, to practice letters and maths. Forming letters, making numerals, forming 2D and 3D shapes, comparing size, weights and thickness, count out balls, the possibilities are endless.
Buying endless pots of brightly coloured playdough can be expensive, but it doesn’t need to be. We make our own using tried and tested recipes, and it is easy to make at home.
2 cups plain flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
½ cup salt
2 tbsp cream of tartar
Food colouring (optional)
Mix these together in a large bowl, then add 1-2 cups of boiling water and stir until it becomes a sticky combined dough. Allow it to cool down then knead until the stickiness has gone (may require some additional flour if too sticky). Store in an airtight container and it will last for ages!
You can use a wide variety of tools to make and shape it, and not just specifically bought playdough tools, but also cutlery and kitchen equipment you have, such as a rolling pin, garlic press, biscuit cutters, small cups, even toy vehicles or lolly sticks to enhance your creations.
You can also add ingredients to playdough to enhance it, such as:
Flower petals (add to cooled playdough)
Fresh herbs (add to cooled playdough)
Glitter or sequins
Cocoa powder, spices like cinnamon or essential oils to add scents
Rice, cous cous, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, sand or sawdust to add textures
One of our children recently helped to make a solar system at home out of playdough – the possibilities really are endless – why not start today!