Dinosaurs and Play Dough Play-of-the-Day

For a play activity that will never be extinct, mix of a batch of play dough. Inexpensive and appealing, combine dinosaurs and play dough for play time. This dino and dough post was so popular from last year, here it is again:

dinosaurs and playdoughFor an invitation to play, I simply put some playdough, small plastic dinosaurs and a few accessories, like small pieces of wood, a few rocks, some pale but clear bits of glass to be water, and a few small plastic eggs that open and close. Both Big Sister (6) and Little Sister (3) loved the dinosaurs. They played in different ways, Big Sister made stories and scenes, while Little Sister pushed the dinosaurs into the playdough in different positions. She especially liked standing them on their tails. But they each directed their own play and interacted part of the time. Later on, Big Sister made tracks with the dinosaurs and then matched them up with the corresponding feet.

dinosaurs and playdoughPlaydough is not just fun, it’s also great for learning. As kids play with playdough, they are also improving their fine motor dexterity. The small muscles in the hands, fingers, and wrists are still developing. The brain also gets lots of exercise for problem-solving and planning and other thinking skills. Since it’s so easy to work with, kids can create, smoosh it back together, and create some more. This also helps develop concentration and focusing skills and encourages stretching attention span too. As kids talk and explain, they are practicing ways of using language. Playdough is ideal for little hands and for sensory stimulation. Fingers love to feel how it squishes, rolls, stretches, and flattens. The different items of the dinosaurs, playdough, sticks, and glass bits gave the fingers more textures to explore.

Children of any age can play with play-dough, as long as they are beyond the “everything in the mouth” stage. Carpets and play dough are not a great combination so mats might be needed. Can you mix up a batch of dinosaurs, play dough, and kids?

Colors of Childhood: Colorful fun with Play Dough

For a play-of-the-day, kids can have some colorful fun with play dough. Play dough is sensory and imaginative and appeals to little hands. It can be pre-made and purchased at many stores, or it’s easy and inexpensive to make at home.

sensory play with play doughJust today, I read a Washington Post article by Valerie Strauss on the decline of play and how this is affecting young children: The decline of play in preschoolers — and the rise in sensory issues. Repeating what many researchers are now discovering, “… young children learn best through meaningful play experiences,” parents, caregivers, and teachers all know there is still a great deal of pressure to substitute academic activities. As children play with play dough, they reveal and shape with their hands and words what is meaningful to them.

 colorful play doughPlay dough seems to be a magnet that attracts fingers and hands. Sometimes, kids will play with just one color and sometimes it can be fun to mix them all up and see what happens. Depending on the kind used, the result can be a swirling mass of color or just a muddy, grey lump. Gee, that sort of sounds like life with kids. Who knew play dough could have such profound zen?

play dough cuttersWhatever is available at your house, set out some play dough for your child or children to explore. A few simple items like cookie cutters, molds,  a wooden rolling pin,  and a plastic knife are useful. To extend the play, kids may have their own suggestions, such as small dinosaurs, toy dishes, or other favorites. Buttons and plastic gems can be buried for treasures. Sea shells and rocks will turn the play dough into an ocean and beach.

The article also mentioned, “In fact, it is before the age of 7 years — ages traditionally known as “pre-academic” — when children desperately need to have a multitude of whole-body sensory experiences on a daily basis in order to develop strong bodies and minds.” Play-dough is not whole-body sensory, but it is certainly sensory. You can add a drop or two of lavender or peppermint, or a spice like cinnamon. Kids need both play and hands-on and this meets that need. No matter, the color, can your child have some sensory and colorful play with play-dough?

Math Activities Using Play Dough

Know someone with math anxiety or math phobia? We can give kids math confidence with math fun. Here are some ideas for math activities using play dough.

math activities with play doughWith a batch of either your own or premade plasticine or playdough, your child can enjoy some math play. You can show your child how to take a chunk of play dough and divide it into smaller pieces. Together you can count the number of little chunks. Squish it back together and make a different number.

Accurate counting is something that develops. Kids will skip numbers, repeat a few, count some bits more than once, and will miss a few pieces. Gradually, with lots of experiences and hearing others count accurately, there will be fewer and fewer mistakes. Just keep counting.

math fun with play doughPlaydough can be rolled out to make the shape of numbers. It’s easy to make a 1, either short and wide, or very, very long and skinny. Scissors can trim if wanted. Kids need to be able to have fun and enjoy their play with numbers. You can print (large) the numbers  on a piece of paper and let kids put the play dough right on top.  Or, you can print them in a long line and let kids make their own versions using these as a model.

Sometimes, even using correctly printed numbers as a guide, kids will make their numbers backwards. This is very common and some kids will still need reminders in the early grades at school. You can bring the picture of the number right close and show your child which is the right way around. With play dough it’s pretty easy to flip the number over. For kids who are ready, you may be able to choose or roll out a number and ask your child to make that number of play dough balls, pancakes, dinosaurs, flowers, or other favorite item.

What other fun and learning math activities using play dough can your child do?

March into Fun with Books, Stories, and Activities #5

Little Red Hen Inspires Play-of-the-Day The Little Red Hen will help us stir up some fun and learning with her story for today’s play-of-the-day. Do you and your child know this story? The Little Red Hen is pretty talented. To make a loaf of bread, she plants the wheat, tends it, harvests it and takes … Continue reading March into Fun with Books, Stories, and Activities #5

Helping Children Learn to Play Series: #5 Play-dough

Helping Children Learn to Play with Play-dough Play-dough isn’t usually considered a toy, nevertheless it’s awesome for encouraging kids to play. As soon as children are past the “everything in the mouth” stage, they can be introduced to play-dough and how to play with it. Of course, much of children’s play is self-directed but we … Continue reading Helping Children Learn to Play Series: #5 Play-dough

Playdough Apple Pie Cooks Up Some Learning

Imitating is a powerful strategy that children use for learning; babies as young as two or three weeks old can imitate a simple facial gesture, such as slowly opening and closing a mouth. (Meltzoff/Moore, Uni. of Washington) As they play, older infants and toddlers show much more imitation of adult behaviors. This is one reason … Continue reading Playdough Apple Pie Cooks Up Some Learning

Kindergarten Readiness – Christmas Playdoughs for Fun And Learning

If the little hands at your house are finding it hard to wait for Christmas, mix up some special playdough for fun, learning and even kindergarten readiness. Playdough is very affordable and, when kept in the fridge, can last for days. 1. Gingerbread playdough: To your favorite playdough recipe, add some gingerbread spices:  1 Tbsp … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Christmas Playdoughs for Fun And Learning