The moment we bring out the play dough at Aurora Early Education, our children’s eyes light up. They’ll use their imagination to come up with some amazing ideas. They will roll, squish, squeeze and mould it to make – a cake, cookies, stars, sun, moon, ornaments and thousands of other creations! The possibilities are simply endless!

Playdough not just provides hours of countless fun for children but also helps develop necessary skills in them. A perfect fun, educational toy for children of all ages, playdough has been popular among children for decades. The charm of this age-old toy has not waned and it still remains relevant in today’s technology-driven world.

Whether homemade or store-bought, playdough or clay is a great way to make your children slow down, take their minds from gadgets and engage them in activities that provide them ample amounts of fun and learning. As for parents and caregivers, though cleaning up the dried-out dough can be troublesome but it surely outweighs the cost and benefits it offers. Here’s a look at some benefits of playdough for young children.

The Benefits of Playing with Playdough

1. Creativity and Imagination

Children give their ideas a form when moulding playdough. They will either come up with unique ideas or may reproduce something they have seen.

True to their age, younger children will often make simple things such as balls, pizzas, pancakes and so on. But, as they navigate into preschool years, their creations will evolve and they’ll soon be producing aircrafts, buildings, different characters and so on. This process helps channelize and enhance their creative thinking ability, an essential life skill, which will help them in various areas of life as they grow up.

With playdough, they also learn symbolic thinking as they pretend the dough is something else. At its core, symbolic thinking allows children to invent, make, think and reinvent, through a continual cycle of thought and creation. It is the ability of a child to use mental representation, which can be images, objects or actions in the mind, where words or creating something (as in playdough) represent their thoughts and ideas.

2. Fine Motor Skills

When children squeeze, pound, flatten or scrape the playdough, their fine motor skills get developed. As they use their hands, fingers and other tools to manipulate and give shape to the dough, they develop eye-hand coordination. Their dexterity of hands and fingers improves, which are significant for physical developmental milstones such as holding, writing, drawing, cutting and so.

You can further enhance your child’s fine motor skills by giving them a rolling pin, plastic knives and objects such as beads and buttons to embellish their creations.

3. Math Skills

Playing with playdough whether at home or early childhood learning center also introduces your children to different mathematical concepts such as counting and learning different shapes (geometry). They unconsciously practice the concept of sorting and classifying.

Playdough also develops their spatial awareness skills (understanding the relationship between objects in a given space). The research revealed that preschoolers who are good in spatial skills develop stronger arithmetic abilities in primary school.

Fun Playdough Activity Ideas

1. Earthworm

Encourage your child to make an earthworm by providing him with a cue such as making small spheres using two different colours of dough and attaching them to each other. Ask your child to stick the balls in an alternating colour pattern. Once he does this, tell him to stick small round balls for eyes and two sticks on the head to look like an antenna.

2. Ornaments

This is an interesting activity, which you can plan with your child for Christmas. Ask your child to mix baking-safe clays of different shades and roll them into a ball. Let then flatten it with a rolling pin and cut out stars or any shapes using a cookie cutter. Now bake the ornaments and once cool, ask him to hang them on the Christmas tree.

3. Leaves

Ask your children to collect leaves of different shapes from the garden. Help them to clean the leaves. Let them roll out baking-safe clay and imprint the leaves on the clay. Now ask them to paint the clay imprint using metallic colours or glitters. Bake the clay and beautiful, leaf shapes are ready to put up in your children’s room or as décor in the living room!

4. Happy Birthday Cake

Let your child make a big ball of clay (colour of their choice) and roll it out into a larger, thicker circle to make the base of the cake. Now ask your child to make the body of the cake by taking a big chunk of clay, give it a round shape and slightly flatten it. Ask him to decorate it with his choice of clay toppings such as cherries, fruits, leaves, etc.

The experience of moulding playdough will always be positive for your children. It also has a therapeutic and relaxing effect on them. It can help children calm down, release excess energy, improve focus and express emotions.

At Aurora, we believe letting children explore materials freely encourage their creativity and expand their spatial skills. Our early childcare centre curriculum includes key focus areas that aim to develop social/emotional intelligence, love for learning, communication skills, trust and empathy in children in a safe, secure and productive learning environment. For more information about our programs, visit our play centre in Doncaster or Rowville.