Last week, the children were introduced to sensory bottles which, in this case, were bottles filled with herbs and spices like cinnamon and rosemary. Gabby, our Food as a Language atelierista, made the bottles to engage the children’s sense of smell. The experience was a hit, and although the children cannot talk, they spent time smelling and reacting to the array of scents.
To further the investigation and build upon the sensory exploration of last week, we made rosemary-scented play dough and had the children play a role in the creation process. After picking fresh rosemary from our garden, we spent class time removing the rosemary leaves from the stems. Once the leaves were separated, we combined them with our play dough.
Assisting the teacher with the preparation of a project is a valuable experience for children. This process helped the children’s fine motor skills, encouraged communication, following directions (we do not focus too much on following directions this at this age, but it is still a good skill to have and encourage now) provoke curiosity, and boost confidence and ownership of the process (as opposed to ownership of the product). It was wonderful to observe the children recognizing their ability to contribute and removing stems allowed them to work on mobility in their wrists, hands, and fingers.
While directional guidance was given, the activity still fostered an open environment where the children could explore their curiosities freely and actively communicate with one another. We engaged in conversation about what it “smelled” like. You can notice some of the photos where a child is holding the play dough to her nose and making it a point to smell it.
While the scent aspect of this activity was certainly valuable, the incorporation of play dough activated their sense of touch and smell during the exploration. Play dough is a fantastic tool for children. Its malleability encourages creation and design. It is easily separated, evoking sharing, cooperation and comparison amongst peers. Perhaps most importantly, it is a medium that allows children to express their feelings and imagination, all while having fun and working on fine motor skills.
For a wonderful article on the benefits of playing with play dough, click here.