One day we rearranged the Toddler 2 classroom so that the children can have a separate area to play with play dough. We strategically set up this area so that various materials were at their level so they could decide on their own which materials they would like to use with their play dough.
Each child addressed the play dough in their own way, fostering creativity, originality and imagination. While the children played and manipulated the play dough, they were improving their fine motor skills and dexterity.
Parents- you can see in the photos below that children experimented with texture, shape, form, and durability. A handful of children used tiles to cut the play dough, something we weren’t expecting to see. Also, many students explored the concept of gravity with their play dough. Some of them placed pinecones at the top, seeing if the play dough would hold it, while others stuck tile or markers into the play dough to see if the depth of the play dough would hold the materials up.
We believe that young children learn with their senses. This is also one of the reasons why we value sensory play – so children can recognize and relate warm, cool, wet, dry, rough, smooth, hard, soft, textured, and even slimy. “Discovering and differentiating these characteristics is a first step in classification, or sorting- an important part of preschoolers’ science learning and discover.”- Suzanne Gainsley, HighScope Early Childhood Specialist.
This set-up and activity is at the heart of the Reggio Emilia philosophy. It allowed children control over what they are learning, the children had endless ways, opportunities and materials to express themselves, and the children were able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing and hearing.