R(3) wanted to play with our Play Dough today. We haven’t brought it out in a long time. I spend so much time looking for new and exciting activities for R to try that sometimes I forget about the more “ordinary” things like Play Dough which is a shame because we always have so much fun with it and it has so many benefits:
- It’s a fantastic sensory play experience
- Strengthens fingers, hands and wrists
- Develops hand / eye co-ordination
- It’s great for developing fine motor skills if you add elements like cutters, popsicle sticks or tooth picks
- It is a truly open ended play experience, sparking imagination and creativity
- It can help to develop language skills as you discuss colours, shapes, textures, the items being created etc
One day I will make my own home made play dough but today we used the store-bought variety. R received a set of 10 colours for his last birthday. After it has been used, I store it in zip lock bags and it seems to keep for ages when it has been stored like this, much longer than if it is stored in the plastic tubs that you buy it in. Consequently, we just never seem to run out of it and I haven’t had any need to make our own yet.
This is what I put out for R this morning. As you can see, we don’t really care about keeping the play dough colours separated in this house! I love that big glob of orange/red/yellow/pink. It reminds me of an Indian Sari. I laid out a tray with som googly eyes, coloured toothpicks, and some coloured pasta that I made for a previous project.
R quickly got to work, adding bits and pieces, declaring he was making a porcupine.
He was very particular about exactly where each toothpick should be placed.
R then declared that the toothpicks were candles on a birthday cake and that he had made me a special green porcupine birthday cake. I quickly grabbed a plastic knife so that he could cut our birthday cake and we could eat some! What a great opportunity for some fine motor skills development and cutting practise! R has been really keen to start cutting his own food at mealtimes but handling a fork and knife is tricky for little hands. This was great practise. He concentrated so intensley on what he was doing and was so proud of himself when he cut that first piece.
“Here’s your piece Mummy!”
After we enjoyed or pieces of cake, R rolled the play dough into logs so he could do some more cutting. (Look at those hand muscles getting a work out! So essential for the all-important pincer grip.)
Then the cutting began. Look at that concentration!
R was fascinated by the pattern on the cut pieces, created by the serrated edge of the knife.
This activity held R’s attention for longer than anything has in quite a while and he played happily for almost an hour. He learnt a new skill (cutting with a knife), developed his fine motor skills and hand eye co-ordination, he added some new words to his vocabulary (serrated and serration), and used his imagination. Perhaps most importantly, his self esteem soared when he used the knife so proficiently and his smile was beaming.
What simple, back-to-basics activities do your kids love? Let’s chat in the comments.
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