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Mold it, Shape it: Ways to Play with Play-Doh

written by: Tania Cowling • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 1/20/2012

Playing with a play clay is a fun and relaxing way for children to explore and create. There are many ways to engage your preschool children with Play-Doh activities. Here are a few ideas!

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    A Little Play-Doh History

    Hasbro's Play-Doh is over 50 years old and has been a favorite craft medium amongst children since its beginning in 1956. Play-Doh is the brand name of this modeling compound that was first developed by a Cincinnati company called Rainbow Crafts. It was available only in an off-white color and introduced to schools in 1957. From then primary colors were added to this non-toxic modeling material. Throughout these years, several major companies have been involved with this product inventing accessory play-sets, going international to European countries, advertising with whimsical commercial characters, and updating the product to include new colors, sparkles, and glow-in-the-dark features. Visit the Hasbro's website for more information about this fun modeling material.

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    The Benefits of Play-Doh Play

    playdoh Using Play-Doh is an open-ended tactile learning experience. Children get a lot of manipulative practice when they squeeze, roll, pinch, and pound this material. As the child kneads the dough and use accessories, such as rolling pins and cutters, they gain control over hand and arm movements which improves coordination.

    Playing with it is a natural outlet through which children can express their emotions. If the child is frustrated or angry, a positive release could be the pounding, pulling, and squeezing of this product.

    Cooperative play and dramatic play can be observed with engrossed children. If a group of children connect all their coils they've made to create the world's largest snake, they are expressing cooperation with one another. Play-Doh also inspires dramatic play as children mimic the roles of community helpers, such as chefs and bakers.

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    Ways to Use Play-Doh

    When playing, supply accessories for added fun. Provide tools to make impressions and cut shapes. Such tools are forks, plastic caps for circles, plastic knives, rolling pins, cookie cutters, garlic press (makes great spaghetti-like hair), and rubber stamps to make picture impressions.

    Encourage children to form letters. Make letter cards with one letter per card and laminate them. Invite the children to roll snakes and arrange them along the letters' outlines.

    To help develop eye-hand coordination, fill a container (like a margarine tub) with Play-Doh. Provide a wooden hammer and golf tees for the children to hammer into the dough.

    Turn it into decorations for the classroom by having the children cut out shapes from the dough using cookie cutters or a plastic knife. Use a plastic straw to press out a hole near the top of each shape. Allow the shapes to dry until hardened. String pieces of ribbon through the hole and tie securely in a knot. Hang the finished products as decorations around the room.

    Roll it into balls and practice counting. Basic addition and subtraction can be taught with older preschoolers and these pieces. Children can also practice basic fractions by making a pizza pie with this material. Cut the pie into slices, first in half, then into quarters. That's enough for a preschool child to grasp!

    Children can make a person by rolling a big ball for the body and attaching a smaller ball for the head. Roll snakes to make arms and legs. Ask the child to make a replica of himself or members of his family -- even the family pets.

    The most important objective of these activities is understanding and emphasizing that the process of dough modeling is more important than the end product. Let the children be truly creative!

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    The End Results

    Preservation depends on the child's desire to keep the creation and your supply. If you wish to save the creation, provide a drying area. Air drying takes a few days, whereas baking the dough in the oven takes only hours. Sometime a child will be happy with a photograph taken of his creation, therefore leaving the dough to be reused again. Just make sure to date and dictate the titles of each child's masterpiece on the photo. To extend your preschool Play-Doh activities, try making a homemade variety.

    From start to finish, enjoy the moments of creative play!

References

  • Photo by Kakisky at Morguefile
  • Hasbro - http://www.hasbro.com/playdoh/en_US/