Thursday, February 21, 2013

Learning with Playdough

Play dough is an amazing substance.  My kids will play with play dough for hours.  When I had two preschoolers I tried to pull the playdough once a week. The body of this post was written during that time.   Here's how you can cover all your preschool learning goals with one this one great activity.

Great ideas for using play dough for learning!

How do we learn with Play dough?

Great ideas for using play dough for learning!

Make stuff. 

I've noticed that my kids are interested in making stuff longer if I engage in a little parallel play making stuff too.  This took a little effort at first.  After a while, it became a relaxing opportunity to try something new.  

Use tools.

When I see that just making stuff is getting a little boring, I like to introduce stuff: a random piece of plastic, butter knife, rolling pin, tooth picks, slotted spoon. Of course, sometimes my son starts pulling out tools as soon as we pull out the play dough.

Practice math skills.

Great ideas for using play dough for learning!

My kids love asking me to make tiny balls, which could also be called spheres.  Sometimes we make cubes and build structures.  Sometimes I ask for a particular number of pieces of play dough.  My daughter can count to six pretty easily right now, so I ask for four first.  Then I ask for seven, then five and so on.



Great ideas for using play dough for learning!

When we were learning the alphabet I made letters and asked for their names.  Then I asked for the sounds that they make.  Now I make simple words and coach my kids to sound them out.  You could do the same with numerals.

Of course, all this time we're strengthening the muscles needed for fine motor skills.  

Using just one activity I cover all my objectives for the day.  Even better, I connect with my children in a way we all enjoy.

When we lived in Kuwait, making play dough was by far easier than trying to find it.  A good friend asked me to "try out" a recipe for a church group, and I am grateful for the nudge in the right direction.

Homemade play dough recipe

 1 part corn starch, 
2 parts baking soda, 
1.5 parts water.  

(i.e. 1 cup cornstarch, 2 cups baking soda, 1.5 cups water)

1.Mix everything in a sauce pan.
2. Cook and stir on medium low heat, until all at once it comes together and forms into a ball.
3. Cool.
4. Knead in a little extra cornstarch as you go.

I have to admit I was scared to try it, but it turned out brilliantly!  Of course, you can always buy the commercial version. 

What do your kids like to do with play dough?

Looking for more sensory ways to learn?  Thriving STEM is happy to be an affiliate for this great book.  Click on the picture to purchase, or read my interview with author Cathy James by clicking here.

Other Posts from Thriving STEM you may like:


  1. Perfect! Thank you for the recipe!

    Thank you for linking to Raising Imperfection.
    Please come back Friday to see if you were featured. :)

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo

  2. I hope you like it as much as I do!


I can't wait to hear what you have to say! Thanks for sharing.