The Benefits of Playdough play
As all of us grown ups will know, there is something really therapeutic about playing with playdough - and it has lots of benefits in toddler play too. Squishing, squidging, cutting and modelling helps to strengthen fingers, hands and wrists and improves hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Playdough play really helps develop imaginative and creative skills - it can be monsters, animals, cakes, people, houses......It's also a really great medium for the release of tension in toddlers - squeezing it, pummelling it, jabbing and poking!
I had an interesting discussion with a childcare lecturer recently about the use of playdough play to tackle toddler biting problems - apparently giving the child playdough and some serrated cookie cutters to cut into the playdough with will give them the same relief from tension and hopefully stop the problem of the toddler biting other children! Got to be worth a try...
Playdough is also fantastic for first cutting practice with scissors. Teaching a child how to cut with scissors is, I think, one of the trickiest things! You can roll dough into a long sausage and encourage your child to cut into it using safety scissors - it's much easier to cut than card or paper and produces instantly gratifying results!
Here's the playdough recipe I use
2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup of salt
2 tablespoons oil
2 cups water
food colouring (optional)
Put all of the dry ingredients in a pan and mix well - add the wet ingredients and mix/stir to remove lumps. I tend to use a balloon whisk for this stage. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. You'll know when it's cooked as a small piece rolled into a ball won't feel sticky or leave a trace on your hand.
Cool, knead well and store in an airtight container or wrapped well in cling film.
If stored in the fridge the playdough will keep for ages!
What to use during playdough play?
Obviously cookie cutters are the obvious but I like to introduce lots of different materials to the playdough table to encourage imaginative play
matchticks and lolly sticks
cupcake cases and baking tins
wiggly eyes and large sequins (not for very young children)
birthday cake candles
plastic tea set and cutlery
farm animals and dinsoaurs
The Little ARTventurers made playdough cakes for Arty Bear on his birthday :)
A feathered friend!
Thing to add to playdough
It's nice to spice things up and vary the playdough a little! With toddlers bright colours (food colouring) and glitter always go down a storm - just add the glitter as the playdough is cooking. Try different scents - peppermint, vanilla, cinammon. Porridge oats adds great texture to playdough play
Enjoy and have fun!