On this particular day we put out circular tape rolls, square tile pieces, sticks, and seashells. We observed the children trying to manipulate the big piece of play dough through the circular tape rolls by placing the play dough inside the circular tape rolls. In doing this, the children demonstrated their understanding of spatial awareness while playing with a variety of materials.
Every day, we provide toddlers with play dough. It benefits them in so many different ways, and providing different materials with it gives them a new, meaningful experience each time. Playing with play dough helps with fine motor development, hand-eye-coordination and general concentration.
They also used the square tile pieces to help them flatten the play dough out in a different way then the original shape it was given to them in. As the children poked, pinched, squished, and pressed the play dough with their hands they were strengthening their hand muscles and practicing hand-eye-coordination. Some of them just enjoyed mashing their fingers through it and getting a good feel of it!
Playing with play dough is an open-ended educational experience because it not only promotes creative play for the children but the direction of the play is literally in their hands. This creates an opportunity for the children to use their hands, eyes, and use dialogue to create stories with the play dough and loose part materials. The children also used seashells to manipulate the play dough. Seashells are hard and ridged unlike the soft and flexible play dough. Playing with contrasting textures sets a foundation for the toddlers that they will be able to apply when further exploring the properties of materials.
Because playing with play dough is an open-ended activity, it allows every child to succeed because there is no black or white answer or method to achieve a certain result. What matters is the process and not the result. Playing with play dough is a great way to release emotions and increase the children’s self-esteem. According to Amanda Morgan of Not Just Cute, “Children who struggle to succeed or who are apprehensive about failure often find solace in sensory play,” the simple act of pressing, squishing, and mashing play dough, “can soothe the nervous child, distract the homesick child, and serve as an outlet for the angry child.”
Play dough is an important material to engage the children in sensory play. Children need to use their senses in order to actively learn and gain a meaningful experience. By continuously using their senses the children become more perceptive and their senses become more acute. This provocation allowed the children to concentrate on what they were doing with the play dough with loose parts involving a variety of textures and shapes. These skills will help the children become more attentive to detail and give them the ability to concentrate in insightful and valuable activities of interest.
What are some of your kids’ favorite ways to play with play dough? Share with us below!