As well as being entertaining and fun, playdough provides both learning opportunities and skill development for young children. Green Leaves Early Learning centre is one Cloverton childcare centre that utilises playdough as an effective teaching tool in its early learning programme. As a new parent to childcare, Fatima was thrilled to find the right Cloverton childcare for her son, Asim, using Space. As she joined in at the playdough table, she soon learnt the many ways in which the simple activity benefited her son’s development.
Rolling, kneading, squashing and cutting playdough all help develop muscles in the children’s fingers. Strengthening these muscles enables young children to manipulate objects more easily as they learn fine motor skills such as writing and drawing, and gross motor skills like throwing and catching.
Working with playdough in a childcare setting allows children to learn and use simple mathematical and scientific terms such as size and shape, soft, hard, round shapes, squares, big, small, wide and narrow. Fatima observed the educator ask the group to make their ball bigger or smaller, flatter or wider, using hands-on methods to teach new concepts.
Including children in making the dough, then by mixing, rolling and cutting playdough children learn skills they can use to make actual food. Learning to bake your own food has been highlighted as an essential life skill as the world experiences supply chain disruptions and empty supermarket shelves. Fatima realised that Asim’s fun with playdough could extend to baking real food.
Sensory learning and discovery
Very young children are constantly discovering the world around them, and every sensation is new. Playdough allows children to feel, pull and squeeze, discovering what result their actions perform. Providing a variety of cutting and pressing objects such as leaves, bottle caps, feathers and toys alongside rolling pins and baking cutters is another form of discovery for toddlers and preschoolers as they press out shapes and make impressions on the dough.
When children sit down with blobs of coloured playdough, they automatically set their own objectives such as making familiar objects or interesting shapes. When doing this, or following teacher directed activities like creating balls or blue squares, children discover and apply a range of problem solving skills to create the desired shapes and sizes.
Creativity and Imagination
Playdough offers children endless hours of imaginative play and applied creativity. Multicoloured playdough can be turned into animals, food, plants, toys or cars, wherever the imagination leads the child. Artistic skills can be nurtured and stories told with the shapes the child makes. With each creation, the child feels a sense of achievement and self-worth.
Fatima found that Asim got better and better at creating shapes and soon learned his colours and shape names through playdough creation. Making playdough at home with her son and then watching and listening to him tell her about what he made at home and Green Leaves Early Learning centre allowed her to form an important connection between home and daycare.