It might be surprising, but did you know that there is more for children to gain from this game than just passing the time?
Playdough is sensory play for children to learn. It has a wide range of developmental, sensory and educational benefits for children. Below are some of the sensory benefits of playing play-dough.
1. Improves Motor Skills
When your child plays with play dough, they tend to develop strength, control, and agility, all of which are necessary to help them manipulate different items such as zippers and scissors. For those who don't know, motor skills are used in numerous physical activities that require the combined efforts of the child's brain and body muscles to maneuver through.
When you watch your child playing play dough, you will notice a sense of exploration and investigation as they try to play with the malleable material. They might squash, squeeze, roll, flatten, cut, chop, or poke holes. This secretly builds upon their strength within their tiny tendons and muscles, preparing them to hold items such as pencils later. Additionally, it can be an excellent way to develop focus and concentration.
These skills are essential for your child to connect with new experiences. As they engage in play, the motor movements used contribute to the child's overall development.
2. Creativity and Imagination
Playdough is one of the best games to improve your child's imaginative and creative skills. To make it even better, you can introduce open-ended play items to the game so that the child has more options to include in their imaginative play. The child will have an unlimited number of creations to play with. They will be required to use symbolic thinking by pretending that the play dough is something else. Such practices are essential in developing their cognitive flexibility and creating a channel for them to express their ideas freely.
The good thing about this is that the children will be creating objects and structures from scratch using the "raw materials " present. This will encourage them to stretch their imagination to come up with innovative ideas to make these structures.
If you carefully observe children as they play, you will realise that when children are at a younger age, they will start by making simple and familiar items such as balls and worms. As time goes by, you will realize that they start making more complex creations and structures. The creations become even better when the child starts playing with other children.
3. Science and Maths
There are so many science and math skills involved in playdough activities for children that support; mixing, measuring, predicting, experimenting, along with many others. With homemade playdough, you can even add colours, mix them, and even spice them up using additional ingrediants such as cinnamon. All these will create a new sensory experience for children to learn from and sharpen their skills.
As an adult, you are used to following procedures and recipes to achieve a predictable result. However, this might be a whole new experience for them. You can also use the opportunity to introduce several new disciptive words for them to learn. For example; smooth, lumps, and grains.
Another thing that children can pick out while shaping the play dough is getting conversant with causes and effects. They will realise that different actions create different results. You can further support this by talking about the process ('What happens when more flour is added?'). Such practices will ensure that even though you are having fun, there is still room for experimentation and learning.
Want to make your own Playdough at home?
Check out this short video showing you how to easily make playdough at home for your children!
You can also download the recipe for making playdough at home right here!
For older children, playdough can be used as a way of practicing number and letter work. There are so many ideas that can be used here. You can ask them to form letters, numbers, spell their names, create different numbers, or even count the objects they have created. Those using different colours can also be encouraged to match objects with the same colour.
Why not set a challenge for them too! For example, ask them to roll four figures, six sticks, etc.
4. Introducing a Sense of Calmness
Anyone who has ever interacted with play dough will tell you that there is just a soothing and therapeutic effect that comes with all the squeezing and moulding. It's an excellent way to relieve pressure and relieve stress.
Some children find it hard to express their emotions, while others tend to develop restlessness. Such children can benefit significantly from using playdough to play. When they sit in a single position while they squash and roll the playdough, this will generate a sense of calmness in them. It will also provide them with an alternative option to express themselves. Playdough can be an excellent activity to help children unwind after a long school day.
5. Developing Hand-eye Coordination
As children use their hands to make shapes and structures with the Playdough, they will also sharpen their coordination control of eye movements and hand movements. It becomes easier for them to process the visual input necessary for reaching along with using their hand proprioception to guide eye movemnts.
This coordination is vital in early childhood and will become more beneficial as they grow. Gaining this skill will enable children to use their hands effectively based on what they see.
Playdough is a versatile material that's a staple for early childhood play. Whether bought or homemade, it has numerous sensory benefits to children's development. The good thing about this reusable material is that it's safe for children to play with since it has no toxic traits. Yes, you might end up finding dried pieces of Playdough at home or stuck on the kitchen counter, but the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages of a little mess!
More sensory activities to do at home with children:
- 12 Sensory activities for children to do from home
- 6 Sensory and educational benefits of water play for children
We’d love to hear about your experience with playdough play. If you have a good activity or a question, please share it by leaving a comment below.
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