Playdough can be found in almost any preschool classroom. It can be homemade or store bought, and it comes in just about any color or can be made into just about any color you like.
Playdough can and probably will make a mess on the table and floor but you can set a ball of playdough in front of just about any preschooler and he or she will find it enjoyable. Add a few cookie cutters, a rolling pin, or other interesting materials and a new dimension of fun is created.
What is the benefit?
The most important benefit of playdough is the word “play”. When teachers introduce playdough, they usually do not have an ultimate agenda or ending outcome – the children are simply given opportunity to play. Lets take a look at a few more of the benefits of inviting young children to play with playdough…
Playdough increases fine motor strength and skills
An important aspect of exploring playdough is the use of those fine muscles in the child’s hands. Young children NEED to build their fine motor strength and control and time exploring playdough helps give those small hands a good workout.
Playdough offers opportunities to increase vocabulary as well
Time at a table with playdough is a terrific opportunity to naturally emphasize words like soft, squishy, roll, flatten, cut, squeeze, as well as just having simple conversation about what the children are doing with their hands. For some children, playdough is about making something but for most, it is simply about exploring the process and talking about whatever comes to mind during the process.
Playdough naturally leads into scientific discovery
Does cold play dough feel different than warm play dough? What happens to the playdough if it is left out all night? What happens if the playdough gets wet? How does it taste? What ingredients are in the playdough? Letting children help make their own playdough also presents greater opportunities to learn.
Take time to observe the learning taking place at the playdough table
Preschoolers love to show you what they are creating. Some preschoolers will naturally work and socialize with one another while playing with the dough. Other preschoolers may rather work in silence. The beauty of playdough is that there really is no right or wrong – it is simply all about discovery, exploration, sensory, creativity, and play.