Manipulating playdough is a perfect way to strengthen fine motor skills, charge up creativity and relax the mind. It’s also perfect for reinforcing concepts in every subject area…and it’s not just for the little ones! Although they might not admit it, big kids love playdough as much as their little brothers and sisters; and of course all kids can benefit from multisensory hands-on learning, regardless of their age.
Mix up a few batches of playdough and add this simple hands-on learning tool to your literacy routine this school year.
Here are some ideas:
- Use plastic animals or other toys to stamp out a scene. Use the scene as a setting for a story.
- Make characters with playdough and act out or retell a story.
- Kids can make a playdough figure to represent themselves. Use the figure to think through a procedure by “acting out” how the character completes the steps in a process. This is great to accompany procedural writing lessons, and it’s especially helpful for kids who struggle with remembering and completing oral directions.
- Make a simple playdough scene to represent each main event in a story or main idea in nonfiction text passage.
- Use letter stamps to stamp sight words and spelling words.
- Form letters and arrange to spell sight words or spelling words.
- Write spelling words in large letters. Place the sheet of paper inside a plastic page protector. Roll up a little ball of playdough and squish it over some of the letters in each word. Identify the covered letter(s).
- Form a ball of playdough to represent each sound in a word.
- Allow kids to manipulate playdough quietly while listening to a story. It keeps busy hands occupied and if they create objects to represent what is being read, it can help them visualize the text.
- Use playdough to model a science concept and explain the concept orally, using the models.
- Represent the meaning of new vocabulary terms with playdough.
A few tips: Playdough and carpet really don’t mix. Choose a carpet-free area to work, or use a splat mat under the table. Add a few drops of scented oil to invigorate or calm kids. My faves are lemon or peppermint (to wake up) or lavender (to calm down.)
This is the recipe I use… It makes enough for 2-3 kids to use at a time.
2 cup water
2 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
4 tsp. cream of tartar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
A few drops of scented oil
Add all ingredients to a pot and stir constantly while cooking over medium heat. When everything is mixed together and it forms a large ball, remove it from the heat. Scoop out the ball and let it cool slightly on the counter. After it cools, knead it until it feels like playdough and there are no lumps.
You could also do a quick Pinterest search to find lots more alternatives, including gluten-free playdough, no-cook playdough, coffee scented playdough…yum!