I try to include a couple of opportunities each season to play with dough as an art activity. If you are like most moms and caregivers playing with some form of dough is probably a pretty common occurrence. Unless you are like me… I am not so good about getting it out! So, this is good for me!
We made our summer trees. Well I made my summer tree, and my kids started but found making people more interesting. That’s ok. I just wanted to get them started with an idea and they took it from there.
While I made my tree I described what I was doing. I’m going to use this one for the tree trunk, and I’m going to make my tree tall. Now, I need to put the leaves on. What color should I use for the leaves?
At the same time I was trying to ask questions, and describe what my kids were working on. What are you making? Oh, I see you are making the tree trunk. Your tree is so tall! And specifically to our case, Oh! You’re making a face!
Let’s talk about what is going on in this activity:
Art: Just like any other art activity like painting or drawing, creating something out of dough takes a new level of creativity. Thinking through the process of how to make a lump of dough look like something is a pretty new concept, and actually fairly difficult. For that reason, I think this is a good activity to work alongside your child so that they can see what you are doing and follow along. You can offer color suggestions, ideas of what to do next, and encouragement of what they do. Just like other art activities though, it’s the experience that you are going for. So, if you end up with two tree trunks turned into ladies, that’s ok! That’s the beauty of doing activities with toddlers and preschoolers, you may start on one idea and end on a completely new topic!
Fine Motor: Squishing, rolling, pinching, patting, rolling out, cutting, scooping… playing with dough offers so many unique small muscle movements making it a fabulous activity to do with your child (Sheesh, getting it out of the container is a full workout!) And there’s not really anything you need to do to enhance this, it’s just going to happen from the nature of any activity with dough.
Sensory: This activity is one of those that falls under almost every category. We get stuck in a rut thinking of sensory activities as anything that happens in a sensory table and that’s it. But, sensory is a HUGE category of experiences, and this definitely can be considered a sensory activity.
Early Math: When you think about the concept of volume and measuring being a math concept, consider the early stages of this with play dough. For instance, figuring out how much dough is needed to fit into a cookie cutter. Or, how tall the brown dough needs to be to make a tree trunk, and how much green dough is needed to make leaves. These are the kinds of things going on in your child’s mind as they play with these materials that are building the foundation of later learning.