I had the pleasure of child minding my 4 year old niece. My kids are much older now so I don’t have too many toys or crafts for that age group, so we made some together. I used to make homemade playdough all the times with my kids when they were younger. We preferred the uncooked playdough recipe since it would be easier for them to make. I am sharing below my favourite recipe!
It is no secret that playing with those colourful pieces of playdough is fun, but did you know that it has other benefits for children? Having children play with playdough can introduce many different things to them.
How does playing with playdough help a child’s development
When it comes to playing with playdough, many parents tend to avoid it because they see it as messy. While it can be messy at times, playing with playdough offers a ton of benefits and learning opportunities for your child that outweigh the negative aspect of it being messy.
1. Playdough can help build and enhance fine motor skills.
Since playdough is malleable, your child can manipulate it easily. As your child rolls, pokes, squishes, scores, and shapes the play dough it will help them strengthen their hand muscles.
Strengthening those hand muscles and tendons will help improve their fine motor skills and coordination. This can even help get them ready for more control when it comes to using pencils and scissors.
2. Encourages creativity
Playdough typically starts out in the shape of the ball. After that, it allows children to create and make anything they want through open ended play.
As they are shaping and forming objects like food, flowers, or other fun shapes, it’s really encouraging them to be creative and use their imaginations. Children see the world differently and allowing them to manipulate and get creative with playdough will help them bring their designs to life. From just a simple ball, they can create a variety of different shapes and designs.
3. Playing with playdough is soothing and calming
Manipulating and playing with play dough has a calming effect, even for adults. When children start to squeeze and mush the playdough through their hands, it is a soothing feeling that can help calm them down.
Playdough can also help children when it comes to their emotions, especially if they tend to struggle with them. For instance, if you give your child a ball of playdough to play with and let them freely play, it may be easier for them to open up more easily when it comes to talking about their feelings. You may notice that as they are playing, their feelings and worlds will just start to come out because they don’t have to focus on their words or try so hard to explain them.
4. Increases curiosity
Have you ever been curious as to what would happen if you mixed two or three things together? What if this colour mixed with that colour? When children play with playdough, it can help increase their curiosity to discover new colours or new things. They will start asking questions and experimenting which can turn into a fun learning opportunity.
5. Promotes investigation and science learning
There are a lot of kid-friendly playdough recipes out there and if want to encourage some extra learning, let your child help make homemade play dough.
As they are helping make the playdough, they will see the science come to life. They will be closely watching what happens when the simple ingredients are mixed. They may start to form their own hypotheses or try and predict what is going to happen.
This doesn’t just apply when it comes to making playdough. These learning experiences will also make an appearance when they are playing with the dough. As they explore the different shapes they can make or try to stack the playdough pieces, their scientific thinking will set in leading to the “what if?” questions.
These are just a few ways that playing with playdough can be beneficial to children. As you can see, play dough is versatile and offers a lot of learning opportunities for children.
Homemade Playdough Recipe
Some recipes require cooking on the stovetop. The playdough does have a better texture when cooked, but if you want the kids to do it themselves, it’s best to try an uncooked playdough recipe.
This easy homemade playdough recipe provides hours of fun! It can be expensive to buy at stores, but it’s very easy and costs nothing to make it at home! The only materials you will need are:
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup flour
- Food dye or Kool-aid
How to make playdough from scratch
1. Food dye (any colour, be creative mix & match!) They now sell Neon food colouring. You can even scent it by adding 1-2 single packages of Kool-Aid.
2. Newspaper or plastic place mat to cover the surface you’re working on.
3. Mix salt and flour in a bowl. Mix water and food dye in another bowl. Pour water mixture into the dry ingredients bowl. Mix thoroughly by hand. If it’s too sticky add some flour or too dry/flacky add water.