Playdough! So much fun for kids, yet so much mess for parents.
Do you see a theme here? Fun activities for kids tend to be the activities parents find the messiest.
My kids loved playdough when they were younger! They started really enjoying it at 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 that you can do with 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
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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.
If you need a simple and great recipe take a look at 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.
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 using caution with 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).
You can encourage language by focusing on some key words, such as:
- 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
- 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 and developmental level 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 their 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! (unfortunately I forgot to take some pictures)
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!
The Playdough Restaurant
This is similar to the playdough bakery, but there are so many more options here. This was 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 ways 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 them 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!
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!