The brand of play dough that we have come to love, known as Play-Doh®, was originally manufactured as wallpaper cleaner in the 1930’s and in the 1950’s was re-worked and marketed to be the modeling compound that it is known for today. Not only is working with play dough fun, but children are able to develop their social, emotional, physical, communication, and cognitive skills at the same time.
Play dough is a powerful activity and allows for children to explore and experiment in various ways while building a solid foundation for future learning.
- Muscle Development: When play dough is pulled, rolled, and squeezed it helps strengthen and develop muscles in children’s fingers, increasing their fine motor coordination skills.
- Sensory Seeking: Play dough can be very stimulating and engaging for a child who seeks tactile experiences. The variety of colors, tools and imaginary themes that play dough offers, opens up countless ideas for a sensory seeking child.
- Social and Emotional Development: Play dough’s texture has a unique calming effect on children as it is manipulated by their fingers. It can be a healthy outlet for children to express their feelings as well. Play dough also stimulates a child’s imaginative and interactive play skills as there are limitless ways to play, design, and create with play dough.
While there are a lot of Play-Doh® toys on the market, there are many low or no cost tools that you can find around your own home that can be used with play dough.
- Use objects found in nature or around your house such as buttons, pebbles, or drinking straws, and practice pushing or poking these objects into the play dough.
- Roll the dough between your hands or on the table and you can make play dough snakes.
- Play pretend kitchen and make pizzas or cookies by rolling a ball of dough and then squishing it flat on the table.
- Use cookie cutters to make different shapes.
Homemade play dough is a great alternative to store bought. Here is a recipe from Suzi’s Crafts that we like to make here at Growing Futures.
Ingredients for Kool-Aid Playdough
- 1-2 packets Kool-Aid
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup boiling water
In a large bowl add all dry ingredients and mix well (salt, flour, cream of tartar, Kool-Aid). Add the oil and boiling water to the mixture and mix this with a large spoon until it becomes very firm. It should be cool enough to handle after a few minutes of stirring. Lay out some wax paper and flour for the last step. Use your hands and roll it in some more flour if it feels too sticky. The Kool-Aid makes the playdough recipe smell really good (like taffy) but it probably doesn’t taste very good. Since it has salt in the recipe, be sure to wash hands and use some lotion to prevent dryness. It will last for a long time if refrigerated in a plastic bag.