Play dough has long been a staple of early childhood fun. Whether it’s store bought or homemade, play dough can keep children occupied for a long time, using their imaginations to create all sorts of doughy fun. Beyond being fun, play dough has several important benefits for children’s development. Playdough activities are a great way to help children develop fine motor skills as well as bilateral coordination skills! There are many other benefits as well - read on to find out how to get the most out of playdough.
Fine motor skill development
While children are busy rolling, poking and squishing dough, they are building strength in the little muscles in their fingers and hands. These same muscles are used for later skills such as cutting and holding a pencil with a pincer grasp
Creativity and imagination
When playing with play dough, children are beginning to use symbolic thinking, or pretending the play dough is something else. This is an important skill for cognitive flexibility, and a way in which children express their ideas
Science and math
Take time to make a batch of play dough with students. Think about all the math and science skills you are supporting. Measuring, mixing, experimenting, predicting what will happen and watching this gooey mix transform into dough right before your eyes. You can add in colors, mix colors to create new colors and even add in spices such as cinnamon to create a new sensory experience.
Basic Play Dough recipe
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup water
Food coloring and/or spices as desired
Combine dry ingredients in a medium-size pan. Mix well. Add water, oil and food coloring if desired. Mix well. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly for several minutes. Mixture will thicken and begin to clump. Continuing stirring until large clump forms. Remove from heat. Allow to cool enough to handle. Knead dough for several minutes or until texture is smooth and consistent. Store in sealed plastic container or bag.
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