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The Power of Playdough Play

playdough toy

The Power of Playdough Play

Just like many things children play with, playdough is one thing with which parents have a love-hate relationship? Why? Because children absolutely love to play with it. But it is also messy at the same time. Ugh, who likes cleaning up, am I right? But seeing that children can have countless hours of fun with it, would you want to deprive your child(ren) of it? We bet not! 

You may even have played with playdough in your own childhood. Or you may simply start by playing with playdough along with your kids. Once you discover the power of playdough, there is no going back. Apart from providing countless hours of fun for your kids, they come with so many benefits you might not have imagined of. 
Rolling. Beating. Smashing. Squeezing. Moulding. There are so many things a young child can do with playdough. While it may seem that playing with playdough is just fun, there is so much more learning to be had with this lump of joy. Playdough is fun, interesting, non-toxic, reusable and a great learning staple that should be a part of every home and classroom with young children. 
Let’s look more into what learning your child can get out of playdough, be it one made from home or store-bought. Apart from the playdough itself, all you need are a few props such as bottle caps, candles, buttons, feathers, leaves, pebbles, straws, kitchen utensils, toothpicks, and small figurines of humans, birds or animals and a clean surface - endless hours of learning and fun is guaranteed! 

Improves Fine Motor Skills

Be it squishing, crushing, rolling, flattening, beating, sculpting or poking the playdough, the little fingers and muscles of young children will strengthen when they play with the playdough. Each of the little tactile actions that children indulge in, will go a long way in adding strength to their tiny hands, enhancing their control and grip, and improving their dexterity. Did you know that indulging in such seemingly innocuous activities can help to grip their pencils later for writing or drawing on when they are ready?

Apart from helping to develop writing skills, manipulating the playdough will also help them to handle scissors, buttons, zippers besides other objects. Playdough aids in more than just physical development. It also helps to develop hand-eye coordination and concentration as the child manipulates the dough any way he wants.

Science and Discovery

Playing with playdough exposes kids to a whole range of science skills. They learn the art of perseverance and doing something repeatedly till they get it right. When one way doesn’t work, they try out an entirely different way of doing things. It teaches them to question something and predict the outcome of an experiment/action. 

You can show them on hand experiences as they go about working with the playdough. “What will happen when we mix water or sand to the dough?” In the former case, it will become more pliable and soft. In the latter, it will become grainy. Kids learn cause and effect, trial and error and other scientific concepts which may not seem like much to us but which are a cause of wonderment and awe in the eyes of the child. 

Fosters Creativity and enhances the imagination

Playdough can be mould into anything. You will notice that when you introduce your kid to playdough for the first time, he will come up with stuff he is familiar with. Perhaps, he will roll the playdough into his favourite fruits. Colour playdough is even more fun. Yellow play dough, for instance, can be rolled into a lemon or a banana, blue playdough can be rolled into blueberries and red playdough can be rolled into apples, cherries, or plums. 

The options are only as limitless as the child’s imagination! Creating various shapes and objects out of playdough will encourage the child’s symbolic thinking and imaginative play. Animals, flowers, shapes, food items, balls and so many things can be moulded out of the playdough. That brown playdough can be squished and rolled into the shape of a cake. Stick a candle in it and watch the child pretend that it's a birthday cake! Give your kid a little rolling pin and watch him roll the dough into chapatis, parathas, pizzas and what not!

Older preschoolers may engage in more complicated imaginative play as they build more complex stuff such as an underwater sea world with lots of sea creatures, a farm with all the farm animals to boot, a jungle with creatures of the forest, a bakery selling all their favourite goodies, and more.
Kids can have so much fun indulging in such imaginative play with playdough. You will see them exchange ideas and whip up stories out of their creations. If you are tempted to join them, don’t hesitate!

Develops children’s literacy and language skills

Playing with playdough encourages children to express their thoughts and ideas with more confidence. The child will pronounce that he has “rolling” as he is using the rolling pin on the playdough. What the child has done is use the precise word to describe the action he’s performing. It could be “chop”,” slice”, and so many more. 

They could add a little water and describe the pound of playdough they have created with descriptive words like “sticky”, “clumpy”, “grainy”, or “ smooth”. Encourage them to ask questions or describe what they are doing. All of this will help to enhance their vocabulary, communication and understanding. They may even articulate things they see in their everyday life like “This is a banana”. You can even ask them to form letters out of the playdough. Additionally, you can make learning the alphabet a little more interesting by encouraging them to create letter impressions and then decorating them with buttons or beads!

Playing with playdough aids children to imbibe new words and articulate their thoughts properly - skills that will come in handy for reading comprehension and writing later on.

Supports Numeracy Skills

Playdough can be a great tool for young children to pick up on basic math skills like counting and learning shapes like triangle, square, circle, and many more. Like letters, children can also practise numbers with playdough. Simply encourage him to roll snakes and form numbers. 

You can teach them to count the number of objects they have formed out of the dough. Consequently, you could try removing a piece or as many as you want or add them and introduce them to the concepts of subtraction and addition. One large lump can be “divided” into many small pieces. That's division made easy for your little one! You could also introduce them to the concepts of big and small by adding more playdough to a piece and showing how it has gotten “bigger”. You could show them how removing a bit of playdough can land you with a “smaller” piece.

If you make or ask them to roll the dough into snakes and then lay them straight or horizontally and compare the heights to see which is taller. Introducing concepts of “tall, short” and “big, small” and comparing the length and width of shapes is very easy. Playdough is an innovative and fun way to introduce basic math concepts which will pave way for understanding more tricky or complex math concepts.

Develops Socio-emotional skills

Whether your kid plays with his peers at school or he plays with playdough with his friends, family or parents, he will learn a host of important real-life skills such as communication, working together, following instructions, listening, responding to instructions and suggestions etc. Apart from collaborative and cooperative play, children can also learn independent play through the playdough play experience.

When kids share the various colours, props and other materials during a playdough activity session, and discuss and create something wonderful, they feel a huge sense of accomplishment. After all, they have created something wonderful from scratch. When they interact, discuss and exchange ideas, it opens their world to a whole host of new ideas, different ways of doing things, working as a team. All of this contributes to enhancing their self-esteem.

Paves the way for a soothing and calming effect

No matter what your age, even a few minutes spent playing with playdough can be highly therapeutic. All that squishing, squeezing and pulling the playdough can be so relaxing, particularly at the end of a long tiring day. It’s the same for children as well. Young children have big feelings as well which they may not always know how to express. Why don’t you give playdough to them after a long day at school and watch them really get into pummelling and pounding it to their heart’s content! It’s a great way for them to let off some steam and calm themselves down when they are feeling things that are beyond them.

As you can tell, playdough is an incredibly wonderful play material you can introduce to your young kid from an early age. So, the next time your kid points out to playdough and asks for it, then don’t hesitate for even a second to buy it. 

Encourage them to play with it and you could even join in with them to get the most out of it. Have loads of fun and learning together! And do let us know in the comment section everything you and your little one did with it. 

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