Have you ever been able to resist playing with playdough while your child does?
It is one of the most popular play props for children and grownups - and with good reason! This cheap, easy and fun dough offers so many benefits, all homes should have a good stock of it in their cupboards.
The Seven Wonders of Play dough
Play dough is a great sensory medium that little ones love to squish, pound squash and manipulate. For children with sensory processing issues, play dough can be a great transition item and a fantastic way of gently introducing those soft, mushy, sticky textures children often struggle with. Start with well cooked play dough that won’t be sticky, and progress to stickier playdough. Different textures can also be added, such as sand, colourful rice, glitter, dried beans and dried or fresh herbs like rosemary. Add a couple of drops of essential oils or spices such as cinnamon for an olfactory occasion!
- Calming and Therapeutic Effects
Few grownups could argue the therapeutic benefits of playdough. Squish, squash and smash a handful of the stuff for a few minutes you’re sure to feel a little calmer. Children who are over stimulated or have excess energy to get rid of find it beneficial to manipulate playdough. Add a couple of drops of lavender oil for an even more calming effect.
- Hand Strength
Whether your child is rolling or squishing the playdough, or making use of props such as cooki cutters, plastic knives and forks or rolling pins, their little hand muscles are strengthening all the time, which will set them in good stead for writing and even using a knife and fork later.
Making use of objects can increase hand eye coordination as children cut and poke the playdough. Children who struggle with bilateral coordination benefit from particularly from practising cutting ‘food’ with a plastic knife and fork.
- Fine Motor Coordination
Playing with playdough helps to strengthen hand muscles. It is fantastic for improving dexterity and provides a great pre-writing workout for little fingers while manipulating the dough through calculated, precise movements. You can also give your child a pair of scissors to practise cutting, without the pressure of needing to cut in a straight line on paper.
- Literacy and Numeracy Development
There are so many fun play dough activities that promote literacy and numeracy skills. Children can compare weights, lengths and thickness; cut dough sausages or divide ‘pizzas’; and count pieces. Rolling out the play dough and getting children to practise writing in it using a toothpick is a fun non traditional way to get some writing practise in, and it is often received more enthusiastically than a paper and pencil. Children can also copy letters by moulding long pieces of play dough.
- Creative Expression
It is always wonderful to watch our children’s natural tendencies to play, and play dough creates endless opportunities for their imaginations to explode. Ask them about their creations to encourage verbal skills. Follow their lead, it can be a very empowering experience for them to direct us in their imaginative play, while learning co operation.
Look out for our next post, where we give you our top rated play dough recipe, and some fun activities to make use of it!