Is making a mess with play dough the ONLY thing that makes it so fun and popular with children? What is it really good for? It turns out that there are many benefits and learning opportunities that come from playing with this classic toy.
Explore the benefits of play dough in our NEW monthly Play Dough Club. Most appropriate for kids ages 6 months to 5 years and their adult, this new program lets families explore how young children learn and grow. The Play Dough Club will be held on a Monday night, once a month, from 5-6pm in the Children’s Room and there is no need to sign up. The first meeting will be July 18th.
Drop in any time while we’re meeting and prepare to squish, smoosh, roll and flatten both homemade and store bought dough. We will include gluten-free dough so that children with sensitivities will be comfortable joining us. We will also occasionally have some different modeling materials for families to try.
Fine Motor Development
When a child uses play dough, they are building strength in tiny hand muscles & tendons. This strength will make them ready for pencil and scissor control later on. Poking objects in a ball of dough, or pulling them out of the dough strengthens hand muscles and coordination.
Play dough can be squashed, squeezed, rolled, flattened, chopped, cut, scored, raked, punched, poked and shredded. Each one of these actions aids fine motor development in a different way, not to mention hand-eye coordination and general concentration. Talk about the various activities, and vocabulary increases.
Imagination and Creativity
Play dough can be the perfect medium for imaginative play because it can represent so many different things. Add another element to it, the list of benefits and creative play possibilities continues to grow. Adding containers with various shaped compartments can naturally lead to cooking play, sorting, matching, ordering and counting, without pressure to learn. By providing objects from nature with a wide range of textures, colors and shapes, children can have multi-sensory experiences and engage with the world around them in a whole new way.
Calming and Soothing
The effects of all that squeezing and pummeling are great for stress relief and can feel extremely therapeutic. Children struggling to express their emotions can use dough while talking or singing, helping the process along.
Math and Literacy Development
In more focused play, play dough can be used as a fantastic way to practice letter & number work. Try having children form letters of the alphabet, spell their name, make numbers, form 2D & 3D shapes, compare lengths/thicknesses/weights, count out rolled balls, match and sort by color. Talk about what they’re doing.
Science and Discovery
The act of making play dough together can lead to lots of questioning and increase prediction skills. “Here we have some solid materials (flour, salt etc) to which we are going to add some liquids (oil, water.) What do you think will happen? What can we make?” The child gets to explore and observe the changing state of materials, and be filled with wonder as the bowl of unrelated ingredients comes together to form a sticky then smooth and squishy ball of dough. Adults often take these things for granted, but in the eyes and hands of a child it’s quite a transformation!
This information was adapted from http://theimaginationtree.com/2012/06/benefits-of-playing-with-play-dough.html.