You can squish it through your fingers. You can roll it into a ball. You can do pretty much anything with it! It’s playdough! But did you know, playdough can also provide valuable hands-on learning experiences to support your child’s growth in the classroom? Playdough can provide enjoyable and satisfying experiences for young children, but it is not just a “fun” activity. In our classroom, we use this pliable learning tool to address early learning standards and observe your little one’s progress in numerous areas of development.
When young children manipulate playdough, they compare and contrast objects, actions, and experiences. In their experimenting, children come up with their own ideas, satisfy their curiosity, and analyze and solve problems. These are all skills that help children learn and succeed in school.
This seemingly simple material can also provide integrated learning experiences in the following cognitive areas.
Because of the interactive nature of playdough use, children need to listen, understand the communication of others, speak, and practice their oral communication skills as they mold and manipulate their playdough constructions.
The tactile experience of manipulating playdough helps children develop a deeper understanding of how matter changes (physics) and encourages them to use scientific thinking as they observe changes, make predictions, and talk through differences in the materials they are using.
Mixing up a new batch of play dough with adults is one way in which playdough engages children in mathematical learning as they measure and count recipe ingredients.
Discussions about shape, relative size (greater than, equal to, or less than), height, length, and weight provide additional opportunities for children to develop mathematical understandings.
The fine motor skills needed for writing and drawing are refined as children roll, poke, and shape their playdough creations.
For this particular activity, we used playdough to create a variety of Valentines-themed baked goods.
Students were given cookie cutters, plastic knives, cupcake holders, cake stands, jewels for “sprinkles”, and their imaginations to bring about an array of delicious goodies! We worked with our friends, displayed our creations, and did it all over again!