Using play dough (or in fact any type of dough!) with young children is beneficial in so many ways. The malleable properties of play dough make it fun for investigation and exploration as well as building up strength in the tiny hand muscles and tendons, making them ready for pencil and scissor control later on.
As part of simple, tactile play – it can be squashed, squeezed, rolled, flattened, chopped, cut, scored, raked, punctured, poked and shredded!
Each one of these different actions aids fine motor development in a different way, not to mention hand-eye coordination and general concentration.
And as soon as you add another element to it, the list of benefits and creative play possibilities continue to grow!
For this activity, we created trolls out of play dough, pipe cleaners, and plastic eyes. It is for one thing for a child to read a book – it is another for them to find creative ways to identify with the characters. Enjoying the tactile benefits of play dough does just this.
Structured block play is what happens when a child tries to recreate a construction by consulting a model or blueprint.
It’s more constrained, but it calls on a particular skill set that is crucial for many tasks.
Kids must analyze what they see, perceive the parts that make up the whole, and figure out how the parts relate to each other.
For this activity, students were shown pictures of the straw house and brick house in the Three Little Pigs.
They were then asked to recreate these houses with Legos. Some students were given yellow Legos to represent the straw house, while others were given red Legos to represent the brick house.
Everyone enjoyed recreating the structures they saw in the story!
Children can find it very difficult to re-tell stories and even harder to make them up. This is particularly so if they have not had much experience with stories and story telling in the preschool setting.
There are a variety of ways to involve children with texts, and the use of ‘story trays’ is one that does not only spark an interest in reading but also involves much talk and discussion, which is why we include them in our curriculum!
A story tray is a tray containing a book, plus items associated with the story, which might include characters in the form of soft toys or puppets. There might also be a non-fiction book on a similar theme, which allows children to experience different types of text.
These items are used to help bring the story to life. They provide a visual and tactile stimulus that the children can use to take part in the telling or re-telling of the story.
Children of all abilities enjoy using them but they can be particularly useful in helping children who are not interested in reading, for whatever reasons, to enjoy books.
For this activity, we used a variety of items to re-tell the story of the Three Little Pigs. Each child was given one of these items, and as the story was read, they would add their item to the tray. Some of these items included green rice (for grass), yellow blocks (for the house made of straw), brown blocks (for the house made of sticks), red blocks (for the house made of bricks), plastic pigs, and a plastic wolf.
In the story of the Three Little Pigs, there are three houses: one made of straw, one made of sticks, and one made of bricks.
To help you little one better understand what the big bad wolf was up against, we created our very own houses!
Using play dough, straws, tiles, and sticks, we constructed three different houses just like the three little pigs! Our first set of materials included yellow play dough and plastic straws. Students were encouraged to stick the straws into the play dough to construct their flimsy houses.
Our second set of materials included brown play dough and craft sticks. Play dough is an easy substance because it can be quickly made and easily cleaned up. It also makes a fabulous adhesive. Your architects came up with so many designs, I wish I could include them all here!
Our third (and final) set of materials consisted of mosaic tiles (to simulate bricks) and orange play dough. This was tricky because they had to figure out how to best place them in the dough so that they could properly balance.
So…..why all of the building? Construction activities like these motivate creative thinking because of the planning that’s involved. Young builders have to do lots of problem solving. Secondly, our budding builders learn concepts of physics without saying it in such a scientific way. This occurs because of the patterns and divergent thinking that is involved.
Given the opportunity to let it grow, you’ll see the creativity of what they’re building metamorphasize.
When children participate in the kitchen, they are learning important life skills.
With specific direction, they can create several tasty dishes, and enjoy the sense of autonomy that is fostered as a result.
These kinds of activities provide endless opportunities for building self-esteem and increasing vocabulary!
For this particular activity, we made pigs (with the assistance of a picture diagram) as we learned about the Three Little Pigs!
Our ingredients included strawberries, strawberry cream cheese, bananas, blueberries, and English muffins. Everyone enjoyed following the directions on the pictures, as they watched their pigs come to life!
Children learn through experiences, and the earlier they are exposed to STEM-based hands-on learning experiences, the better. Engineering design, by its nature, is an inquiry-based pedagogical strategy that promotes learning across disciplines.
Engineering curricula introduces students of all ages to everyday applications of science, mathematics, technology and engineering that match their values and view of the world. This, and many of our other activities are designed to engage students in hands-on STEM experiences in order to improve their understanding of fundamental concepts in a way that capitalizes upon their design, visualization, creativity and teamwork skills and yearnings.
For this activity, the children were given blocks, a toy troll, and toy goats. They were told to construct a bridge using the blocks and the toys. They continued to add blocks until the bridge collapsed. After this, they counted the amount of blocks they needed to keep their bridges up. Many students enjoyed this so much, they repeated the experiment over and over again!
Young children are naturally curious. They wonder what things are called, how they work, and why things happen. The foundations of scientific learning lie in inquiry and exploration — these are the tools of active learning. Fostering young children’s sense of curiosity about the natural world around them can promote a lifelong interest in it. Scientific learning should not be limited to a particular “science time.”
Early childhood teachers should look for opportunities to develop children’s understanding of scientific concepts in all content areas. To do so, children need to observe things first-hand as much as possible. The younger the children, the simpler and more concrete the activities need to be. It is for this reason that whenever our class is learning about something, I try to make it as three-dimensional as possible. It is one thing for them to see a picture of a concept, it is another thing for them to actually experience it. For this activity, your little one participated in an engineering activity! Using toilet paper rolls, cardboard, and goats, they constructed and then tested a bridge. Students worked in teams that focused on the weight and durability of their bridges. Because this week involved us learning about the Billy Goats Gruff, we gradually placed one goat after another on our bridges until they fell. We then counted the goats to see how many would fall and get gobbled up by the troll. Students enjoyed this component, because it was so unpredictable! As a result, your little ones explored the scientific process, and examined the results of cause and effect!
Sorting is a beginning math skill. It may seem that a big chunk early math is about learning numbers and quantity, but there’s much more to it.
By sorting, children understand that things are alike and different as well as that they can belong and be organized into certain groups. Getting practice with sorting at an early age is important for numerical concepts and grouping numbers and sets when they’re older.
This type of thinking starts them on the path of applying logical thinking to objects, mathematical concepts and every day life in general. Studies have even been shown that kids who are used to comparing and contrasting do better in mathematics later on. For this activity, we practiced sorting different colored pom poms.
Using tweezers, we placed different colored pom poms on different colored trolls! Since we are learning about Billy Goats Gruff, this was a perfect complement to our curriculum!
Throughout our month of farming, we read many great books. In these books, we learned about farm animals, tractors, and barns. In our second week of farm activities, we read a book called the Little Red Hen. To help us understand the main character, we used brown clay to create our own hens!
Using play dough as a medium, feathers, and plastic eyes, we created our own version of our favorite chicken! By manipulating play dough and other mediums, children practice using certain physical skills with the hands as the squish the dough with their fingers.
Children can also practice skills such as pinching, squeezing or poking while they play with the dough. Lastly, using play dough helps a child practice using imagination and other cognitive abilities such imitation, symbolism and problem solving. This helps your little ones learn more about their environment as they make and mimic everyday objects with the play dough.
Children love to build. It’s something to do with the challenge, the skill and probably the knocking down, that makes it such an appealing activity for kids.
As stated in one of our previous activities, when your child plays with blocks, building replicas of the world around her, she is like a little scientist, experimenting with balance, structure, space, and even gravity!
Have you ever watched your child attempt to build a simple tower, only to have it fall down at a particular height?
Perhaps you have noticed that she tried different ways of placing the blocks until finally she created a tower that stayed up!
Amazingly, what she is doing is using the scientific method of experimentation, observation, and cause-and-effect to solve the problem of the tumbling tower.
For this activity, we made another chicken coop, but with different materials. Using painted Styrofoam blocks, toothpicks, wire mesh, and our imaginations, we constructed our own chicken coops! We then added chickens, hay, and bird seed to feed our chickens and add to the fun!