I keep reading about lavender playdough and have been desperate to try it! Yesterday afternoon the children cut some stems from the lavender plant in the garden. We then made fresh playdough which they love – taking it in turns to pour in a sachet of cream of tartar each, taking it in turns to stir and pour the flour in. We then added the lavender and got kneading! It was a very calming, soothing sensory play session!
I love using playdough with the children, it’s not just fun to make and play with but covers lots of areas of learning too –
- By making the playdough from scratch together, the children learn about measurement and numbers by filling the cup and comparing the size of teaspoons and tablespoons, and about counting as we add the ingredients.
- Children note changes in shape and size as they comment on, compare, and contrast the objects they make (“I made a triangle” and “Mine is a tiny ball and yours is big”). Others notice who has more or less playdough.
- It encourages mathematical thinking – “What shape is that?” “Which snake is longer?” or “How many pieces do you have now?”
- Children practice counting, learn about shapes (geometry) and how they relate to each other (spatial sense), and practice sorting and classifying.
- While poking, rolling, and squishing playdough, children develop the small muscles in their fingers and hands. They use hands, fingers, and tools to pound, push, poke, shape, flatten, roll, cut, and scrape. Through these manipulations, children develop eye-hand coordination, the ability to match hand movement with eye movement. They also gain strength and improve dexterity in their hands and fingers, critical areas of physical development for writing, drawing, and other purposes.
Communication and Language
- Children practice listening to and talking with others
- It helps children build their vocabulary as they explain what they are doing. For example, when a child exclaims, “Chop!” as she brings down the plastic knife, she uses just the right word to describe her action.
- Children use language to invent stories about their playdough creations.
Creativity and Imagination
- Children express their ideas through art and make-believe play. At the same time, they learn symbolic thinking by pretending that the playdough is something else (“That thing with the antlers is a moose”).
Social and emotional development
- It lets children feel competent (“I’m good at rolling the dough”) and proud of their accomplishments (“Hey, I made a dog”). Pounding, flattening, and squeezing are healthy and safe outlets for extra energy. They can also help children cope with strong feelings like anger or stress.