Can Play Dough Be ART?
Parents do not need to be artists to encourage children to create art; we might see some amazing sculptures just from play dough activities for kids.
As adults we are conditioned to think of art as being paintings hanging in galleries but really art is any representation made for the purpose of expression. Kids are making art much of the time as they play whether it’s coloring, stacking, dancing or something else. And they will use any materials that they find no matter if it’s treasure or junk.
Art appeals to the senses. Playing with play dough can stimulate all the senses. While the senses of touch and seeing are the most obvious, play dough can have a wonderful smell from spices, essential oils, or koolaid powder. A few kinds of dough are edible and as kids play there will be different sounds.
Both art and play dough also stimulate the imagination. A mixture of salt, flour, water and a few other ingredients will make play dough and kids will roll, pat, smoosh, mold, and stretch it over and over, turning it into whatever they imaging or just enjoying the feel of it.
Play dough can either be purchased or made at home. Countless recipes are available on line for different kinds such as slime, goop, cloud dough, sand dough, and more with unexpected additions like marshmallow, shaving foam, oatmeal, coffee, applesauce, cinnamon, and snow. Cooked or uncooked, scented or unscented, brightly colored or plain, there are countless variations in between.
To extend the play, you can give your child such items as cookie cutters, small plastic animals, picnic knives and forks, small dishes, molds, little rolling pin, plastic pizza cutter, tongs, buttons, stones, face pieces from potato-heads, googly eyes, etc. Children’s author Barbara Reid illustrates books with plasticine, which is like play dough but stiffer. It’s oil based and non-drying. Your child might like to explore and create pictures too.
Kids aren’t the only ones that play with play dough. Adults use similar materials called clay, or modeling clay. Some stunning ceramic creations are centuries old. Here is a recent art installation from Seattle’s waterfront. I wonder if the message is that art is a way of looking at the world? Does your child enjoy play dough activities?