As a small child, I can still remember spending hours carefully sculpting rainbows and unicorns, creating and designing towers or cutting out various shapes and animals to create my perfect imaginary world. Play-dough is the gift that just keeps giving and if you are a young child, it is one of the perfect materials to create, sculpt, learn and build resilience while having the most incredible amount of fun! (You can purchase pre-made play-dough or also make it yourself at home.)
At a glance, it may seem that children are only 'playing' when working with play-dough, but in fact they are learning a HUGE range of skills. Here are just a few of the things your child may learn when working with play-dough.
1. Imagination and Creativity: As Albert Einstein famously said, 'Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.' Through creating shapes and images that capture their imagination, children develop their cognitive ability and make greater sense of the world. Both imagination and creativity help children build their critical thinking and problem solving skills.
2. Develop spacial awareness: Whether your child is creating a 3D tower or a 2D picture of their house using cut out shapes, they are learning about space and the relationships between objects. By talking to your child about objects that are bigger and smaller, or wider and thinner, you can help your child to develop their spacial awareness.
3. Improve fine motor skills: Squeezing, pushing, pinching and rolling are all ways in which which your child can begin to build hand and finger muscles getting them ready for holding a pencil, using scissors or eating with a fork, knife and spoon correctly. Using cutters and asking your child to stick or prick the play-dough with different objects are additional ways in which you can help you child to further develop their fine motor skills.
4. Learn numbers and letters: Play-dough is great for helping children learn about letters and numbers. Whether it is actually creating these numbers by rolling or cutting them out or simply counting the number of buttons or eyes to place on a bear, children can learn a great deal about numbers and letters through play!
5. Teamwork and sharing: Playing with play-dough can help build communication and teamwork when working with others. Learning to share utensils helps with turn taking and socialisation as well as helps children work collaboratively with others.
6. Builds resilience: One of the hidden values of playing with play-dough is its ability to help children build their resilience. Sometimes things go wrong: our creations do not look the way we want them to or they fall apart. The beauty of play-dough is you can roll it back into a ball and start again. By learning that we can have another go and try again, helps children feel successful and positive about their learning, making them resilient, life-long learners.
Keep creating, imagining, building and LEARNING!