Children love playdough! Parents hate it! It’s messy. The crumbs get ground up in the carpet and are impossible to get out. It sticks to socks, shoes, and anything that comes in contact with it. Inevitably it ends up on the floor. What a headache! And, the kids aren’t learning anything by playing with it. Right?  Or, are they?

Actually, manipulating playdough fosters growth in many developmental areas.

It provides opportunities for children to:

  • Strengthen small finger muscles (necessary for fine motor skills such as holding a pencil and writing) through squishing, rolling, flattening, cutting, pinching, shaping, etc.
  • Develop social and language skills when working with others by sharing, taking turns, conversing, and engaging in open ended, imaginative play
  • Gain spatial awareness while making 2D and 3D shapes
  • Further eye-hand coordination
  • Increase attention span
  • Calm down, release anxiety, and is a great outlet for them to express their emotions

A child’s imagination can be stimulated through working with playdough just as it would when playing “dress up” or “house” with dress-up clothes, dishes, dolls, etc. The addition of props to your child’s play with items from the house (or a quick trip to the Dollar Store) can foster creativity.

  • Rolling pins, plastic knives, pizza cutters
  • Pasta shapes
  • Muffin tins, egg cartons, baking sheets
  • Cupcake holders
  • Cookie cutters
  • Sticks, shells, rocks, glass pebbles, buttons, bottle caps
  • Q-tips, toothpicks, popsicle/craft sticks
  • Feathers, pipe cleaners
  • Googly eyes
  • Plastic toy figures, toy vehicles, plastic animals

For example, pasta shells and toothpicks can become spikes, plates, and tails to transform playdough into the land of the dinosaurs; a muffin tin, cookie sheet, and cookie cutters turns your house into a bakery; glass pebbles, shells, and playdough fish become an underwater adventure; and the addition of googly eyes to any shape instantly creates a monster. The opportunities are endless!

So, don’t be shy. Give it a try. Your child will thank you for it!

Check out this link for an easy Kool-Aid playdough recipe that your child will love!

By Kari Misulonas

Ms. Misulonas teaches kindergarten, leads our Early Childhood curriculum, and is Director of Student Support Services.