Fun Playdough Activities That Are Great For Language Development!

Fun Playdough Activities For Kids

Playdough! So much fun for kids, yet so much mess for parents.  I am starting to see a theme here.  Fun activities for kids tend to be the activities parents find the messiest.

My kids love playdough!  They started really enjoying it around 18 months.

My son may have been a bit younger because his older sister loved playing with playdough.

If you can get beyond the mess children can make with playdough, there are actually many fun playdough activities for you and your child.

And many of these activities can encourage language development, imagination and fine motor skills!

In this article I will share with you some fun playdough activities and how they can encourage language development among other skills.

Getting Started With Playdough

At What Age Can My Child Start Playing With Playdough?

Unfortunately there really isn’t a “right” answer to this.  It really depends on your child.

If you are making your own playdough and you know the ingredients are safe if ingested, then I would say 8 months plus is fine.

Are you wondering “how do you make playdough?”  Check out this basic homemade playdough recipe.

If you are using store bought playdough it is probably best to wait until the age of 3 (as per most manufacturers instructions).

However, if an adult is supervising then they can make sure the child is not eating the playdough.  Making playdough at home isn’t for everyone.

Luckily you can find a lot of playdough online!  And the prices are quite reasonable.

The Best Places For Playdough Activities

This is a common question, and it really comes down to you, your child and your home.

If your child is still in a high chair, this is probably the best and safest place.  As children get older they can sit at the kitchen table table or stand on a chair, or even better, in the learning tower, at the counter.

You could also put a plastic table cloth on the floor and have them sit there.

However then they are free to constantly wander off with playdough in their hands.

A few tips:

♦ If you are making your own playdough, it tends to leave a “salty” dry layer on the hands.

Your child may be sensitive to this (my son was) so make sure to have a damp cloth near by for him to wipe his hands.

♦ Your playdough may start drying out.  If this happens, add a bit of water or a few drops of oil and kneed it thoroughly.

This will greatly expand the lifespan of your playdough.  You can do this with both store bought or homemade playdough.

♦ For children under the age of 2 I suggest staying away from scented or edible playdough.

Even if you are making it yourself at home and know that all the ingredients can be safely ingested, it is not a good idea to encourage the eating of playdough.  You never know when your child may be playing with commercial playdough and think this is safe to eat as well.

Once you and your child have picked your favorite playdough – store bought or homemade, you can begin by manipulating and playing with it.

Fun Playdough Activities That Can Promote Language Development

Playdough Language Development Objectives By Age:

12 to 36 months

Toddlers will get a thrill out of just touching playdough and experiencing the sensory aspects of it (unless your child has a sensory processing disorder).

Playdough Learning Activities For Toddlers that will help with language development

You can encourage language by focusing on some key words, such as:

  • poke
  • roll
  • squish
  • pull
  • cut
  • pat
  • color names

Follow your child’s lead to see what interests him most about the playdough and then copy his actions and/or words.

Expand what she is saying/doing to keep the conversation going.

Some “tools” that you can use to make the playdough experience even more fun can include:

  • plastic scissors
  • cookie cutters
  • popsicle sticks
  • “googly” eyes
  • pompoms
  • small rolling pin
  • old “lego” blocks

Experiment with these “tools” to create some fun and simple shapes with playdough.

3 years and up

Children over the age of three will most likely not be interested in just “playing” with playdough.

They will want to engage in some fun playdough activities which will encourage them to use their imagination.

Some children between the age of 2 and 3 will be ready for some more advanced play with playdough.

Again, this will depend on the maturity of your child.

Here Are Some Of My Favorite Playdough Activities For Older Children:

Depending on the age of your child you can either engage in the play or simply help your child get out all of the playdough supplies and let him play independently.

The Playdough Bakery

Allow your child to choose a variety of cookie cutters and different colors of playdough to make “cookies” with.

Talk about the different “cookies” you are baking, for example “I am going to make a flower cookie” and then ask your child “what cookie will you make?”.

Talk about the colors of playdough you are using.

Discuss what the cookie will taste like.  Ask your child what her favorite cookie flavor would be.

You could then put the “cookies” onto a cookie sheet and pretend to bake them in the oven.  Set up a “tea party” when the cookies are all done.

This activity can last as long as you and your child would like it to last.

With older children, you could elaborate even more and add other items you would find in a bakery such as cakes, bread, buns, etc

The Playdough Zoo

Make zoo animals using some googly eyes, pompoms and of course, playdough.

On the weekend, my son wanted to make a dinosaur exhibit, complete with an erupting volcano and dinosaur fossils.

We spent at least an hour or more talking about dinosaurs and making volcanoes and fossils.   He added plastic dinosaurs to his erupting volcano!

If you are making a playdough zoo, be sure to include the habitat of the animal.

For example, talk about where monkeys live and then make some trees for them to swing in.   There is so  much language that can happen during an activity like this.   And its a great way for a child’s imagination to flourish!

kids play kitchens pretend play

The Playdough Restaurant

This is similar to the playdough bakery, but there are so many more options here.  This is a favorite in my house.

My children love playing “restaurant”.  If there is no playdough around they will use plastic/wooden play food.

However, doing this with playdough allows them to create whatever they want, and playdough allows for fine motor development as well.

Since I am not an occupational therapist, I will not get into the specific was playdough can help build fine motor skills.

Your child can be both the chef and the server in this activity.  Talk about the types of things you might order at a restaurant that you can make with playdough.

If your child is 6 or older, have him write out a menu of a few basic items that might be available at the restaurant. This activity can end up being hours of fun.

There are literally endless things you can talk about.  My son included an egg, sunny side up on his menu!

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of many activities you can do with playdough.

As you can see the opportunities to encourage language are endless.

From talking about action words and nouns to asking and answering questions, there is no limit where you can go with playdough!

What are some of your child’s favorite fun playdough activities?  Please leave me a comment!


These playdough activities for toddlers & preschoolers are great for learning and speech-language development #playdough #speechtherapy #learningthroughplay

4 Comments

  1. John

    Hi Tanya, this page brings back not only memories from my childhood but also from my daughter who is grown now and raising her kids. Playdough has been around for a long time, I can almost smell it from this page 🙂 A must for any child growing up and still fun for adults too.

    John

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks John! Playdough is one of those things that never goes out of style! And now there are even more kinds of playdough on the market than ever! Please share my site with your daughter if you think any of my tips could help her with her own children!

      Reply
  2. Claire

    Reading this brought back some happy memories – I used to love playdoh as a child. I vaguely remember my mum making her own on the stove for my little brother too at some point. You’ve given some great examples of how to get some role play going and get kids (and adults) to use their imagination. I might have to get some and surprise my nephew with a playdoh date soon!

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      I am glad that this brought back memories for you Claire! Let me know how the playdough date with your nephew goes!

      Reply

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