If I was to suggest having one sensory material on hand I think it would have to be playdough. Playdough is the all-around ideal material that helps children learn and grow in all developmental areas: Physical, Cognitive, Social and Emotional.
Playdough is tactile play at its core. It’s just waiting for your kidlet to squash it or squeeze, roll, or pound it out flat. It can be chopped, cut, scored, punctured, poked or even shredded! Even saying all of those actions can’t you feel the release of energy and/or emotion?It’s this pliable characteristic that makes it perfect for children to safely and appropriately deal with their feelings. Playing with playdough helps your child develop emotionally.
Children might not be able to understand the emotions they’re feeling, but often those emotions are readily apparent. You’ve probably noticed when your kiddo’s mood’s changed or when their frustration is building. Those little bodies can experience big emotions! If you’ve got playdough available, direct them there! You’ll be amazed how it’ll soothe and calm them.
My AromatheraPLAY™ dough was always a big hit at preschool; with the kidlets and any adults that might be working and/or visiting class. I always included some kind of scent, an aroma if you will, to create an all-around aromatherapy experience; facilitating stress relief and/or helping them to express themselves.
Now, diverting a potential meltdown probably is reason enough, but there are more reasons playdough is the all-around ideal material!
Learning Through The Senses…
Young children learn through their senses. Playdough is a sensory material. I made it a multi-sensory material for the preschool kidlets by adding a fragrance and/or additional texture. Adding various textures—is it bumpy, slimy, smooth?—helps build their vocabulary.
Manipulating playdough gives children hands-on experience observing, thinking, and talking about how it feels and/or how they’ve changed it. While playing with playdough children employ scientific thinking skills. They have 1st-hand experience witnessing scientific concepts like ’cause and effect’ or state of matter changes. These concrete experiences contribute to their growing knowledge base.
PLAY is Learning…
Depending on the accessories provided, your kidlet can ‘work on’ math readiness skills while playing with playdough. Filling up containers and comparing amounts, gives kiddos an understanding of volume. Adding geometric-shaped cookie cutters, allows them the chance to ‘see’ how the shapes are different and how they’re the same. Playing with playdough helps your child develop cognitively.
All of the above listed actions aids your kidlet’s fine motor development. It builds up the strength in their hand muscles and tendons. Additionally it develops their eye-hand coordination, hones their focus and concentration. Playing with playdough helps your child develop physically.
At preschool accessories and visuals were added to the playdough table which extended the kidlets’ exploration and took their play to essentially endless possibilities! You can do same at home! This is what I created for my grandbubs’ visit. No doubt there will be extra accessories added as their PLAY progresses, but this’ll start them off.
Playing with playdough is a good activity for supporting new friendships. Adding open-ended play items as accessories, turns the playdough experience into imaginative play. Your kiddo and their friends can use these open-ended play items to represent a variety of things. This is the beginning of symbolic thinking! Imaginative play allows kidlets to collaborate, cooperate AND communicate! Playing with playdough helps your child develop socially.
The playdough table often was the site where I would say, “Tell me how your story begins” and many times they would recite what they were creating as a basis for their story. I think once playdough is routinely included as an option for your child, you too, will come to see it as an all-around ideal material! Hey see if your kiddo can tell YOU a story about what they’re doing with the dough they’re playing with. And then share it with me!
Yours in Play!
There are lots of different kinds of recipes available for playdough; both cooked and uncooked options. I chose the cooked option.
Teacher Karen’s AromatheraPLAY™ dough recipe:
Large pot, 6 quart
Large plastic bag
(4) C plain flour
(2) C salt
(4) C water
(1/2) C Cream of Tartar
(4) Tbsp cooking oil
Plus any coloring* and/or scent
* Use food coloring or concentrated paste in whatever amounts necessary to create the desired color intensity.
• Measure out and place all dry ingredients in pot, mix well
• Make a depression (or well) in the center of the dry ingredients
• Add whatever color and scent you’d like to (2) C of water
• Pour into the center well of dry ingredients
• Add remaining (2) C of water plus (4) Tbsp of oil to liquids in pot
• Mix thoroughly
• Turn stove top on to low setting
• Continue stirring until dough thickens up (keep scrapping the bottom so it doesn’t stick/burn)
• It’ll clump into a big ball–remove from heat
• Allow to cool some–I tended to rush this step a bit…
• When dough is cool enough for you, take a handful and knead it until smooth; place in zip-lock bag
• Continue kneading and store all the dough in zip-lock bag
• Store bag in refrigerator to keep dough fresh for a long (and I’m talking months) time!
NOTE: If you happen to leave your dough out overnight and it dries out some, just knead in small amounts of water until it’s been returned to suppleness.
Below for some examples of scents and textures you can add to playdough. I’d highly recommend making homemade dough with your child. It does take awhile, but it’s worth it!
Aromas to Add (1-2 oz):
Textures to Add: