It’s almost the Opening Ceremonies and time for some kindergarten readiness and Olympic fun. I remember 2 years ago at the Winter Olympics when one of the symbols was the Inukshuk. This figure is made out of rocks and is used to point the way to others. The inukshuk is an ancient form of communication and marks an important place or path. It seemed fitting for a significant world event like the Olympics, communicating tradition and honoring the path that many athletes have taken.
At that time, many school children made inukshuk out of rocks. This wasn’t easy for preschoolers so we made some using playdough in the shape of rocks. Since the theme of these posts is learning activities with rocks, this seemed like a great idea to do again on a play-date with 3 kids of different ages.
The mascots for London’s games seem even easier to do but kids sometimes have different ideas about what they want. While one of these playdough creations, made by the 3-year old, looks somewhat like Wenlock and Mandeville, the mermaid and baby, made by the 11-year old and 7-year old are very different.
Playdough is a wonderfully inexpensive toy and learning tool. Here are some of the brain connections that kids can develop when using playdough:
Admittedly, this is not exactly a rock learning activity but it certainly is a play and learning one. The kids of various ages enjoyed their creating and had fun together. Isn’t that the Olympic spirit?
Other than an empty box, play-dough is one of the most inexpensive toys for preschool kids. It’s easy to make at home with ordinary ingredients. And the play, learning and readiness for kindergarten is extra ordinary. When playing with play-dough these are some of the skills developed:
- fine motor dexterity and strength; hand-eye coordination, visualizing,
- vocabulary and descriptive language, measuring, counting, pre-writing,
- sensory information such as shapes, texture, temperature, touch, size,
- problem-solving, planning, imagining and pretending,
Plus, play-dough can help as little ones learn numbers and letters which also helps for kindergarten readiness. Learning to use scissors with play-dough is much easier than with paper. Following is a recipe. When I make play-dough with little helping hands, I first put the bowl on the table as we measure out the ingredients but leave the teakettle on the counter. When it comes time to pour in the boiling water, I give each of the kids a small bit of flour to spread all around the table and I remove the flour bowl and put it in the sink. I feel safer with the hot water far away. Plus, if any water spills it goes in the sink not on them nor can I accidentally tip it on myself.
- In a big bowl measure 2 cups plain flour, 1 cup salt, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1-2 tablespoons of cream of tartar, color–either 1 pack of koolaid or a few drops of food coloring.
- Put the bowl in the sink and measure in 1 & 1/2 cups of boiling water. Stir mixture, with bowl in sink, until cool enough for the little helping hands at the table to knead.
Cream of tartar is pricey but it helps to preserve. Instead, I have substituted citric acid crystals. We can use play-dough to make all kinds of shapes and we can shape growing minds. What fun does your child have with play-dough?
Why does it take pirates a long time to learn the alphabet? Because they are always at C (sea). One way to practice letters is with play-dough. This helps for all kids, but especially for those who learn best by touch as opposed to visual or verbal learners. Roll out the barrel, er, I mean roll out some long ropes of playdough and help your little one with letters. What letter starts your munchkin’s name? Can s/he spell STOP? What letter starts pirate and play-dough? Play-dough is also great for practicing cutting. It’s easy to snip and then smoosh back together. If you are making your own playdough, maybe use yellow coloring to make pirate gold. Playdough-an inexpensive but valuable treasure. What’s your favorite recipe?
Playdough is a super learning tool. It is inexpensive and can be made right at home. My favorite recipe is the cooked kind but I have successfully made the dough that uses boiling water. Mix up a batch. Combine yellow and red coloring to make orange and add a drop or two of blue to make a brown. Then, play in the mud!! Here’s a list of learnings:
- have your child roll out the letters of his/her name -roll out circles, triangles, rectangles, squares
- make the shapes of the numbers 1-10 and roll out some little balls to show how many for each
- practice cutting; it’s fantastically easy with playdough -make people or animals and tell a story
- make some different shapes: flat, round, tall, short, long, curved, straight, etc
- grown-ups can form the letters of the alphabet and let kids guess, or kids can make them, too
Building vocabulary, developing fine motor coordination, practicing letters, numbers and counting are just a few of the skills that can be reinforced with playdough. Best of all, it’s almost as much fun as playing in the mud.