The Mighty Playdough

  • October 7, 2017

Playdough is a fun material for young children to play with and an essential learning tool for teachers. It brings out a child’s creativity while supporting social and emotional development. You can even use playdough to encourage language, literacy, science and math skills.

Here are some tips for using playdough as a learning tool.

Creativity and Imagination

Playdough encourages creativity and imagination through art and make-believe play. One day, you may see your student create a dinosaur, and the next day, they could be engaging with their classmates in a pretend scenario, like baking cookies in the kitchen. During this time, they learn symbolic thinking by pretending that the playdough is something else.


Fine Motor Skill Development

When using tools to pound, push, poke, shape, flatten, roll, cut and scrape, as well as molding the playdough, this is strengthening children’s hands and fingers. Through these movements, children develop eye-hand coordination and the capability to match hand movement with eye movement. 


Social and Emotional Development

Children feel competent when they’ve made their playdough creation. It boosts their confidence, keeps them calm, teaches them how to focus and presents opportunities for them to interact with their peers. It’s great to bring up questions while your students are creating their masterpieces to enhance their learning and help prepare them for success in school.


Improves Language and Literacy

While using playdough, children like to come up with stories or use facts or ideas from books or things they’ve observed (“These are like the pancakes my mom made for breakfast today”). Creating letters and words from playdough is also a fun way for them to learn the alphabet and vocabulary.


Science and Math

Young children learn science and math through hands-on experiences. Observing and talking about how the playdough feels encourages a scientific way of thinking.  When you add props, such as sand, this opens up new vocabulary and ways to talk about the consistency (“This feels grainy, lumpy, smooth”). When your students are measuring and counting while making a batch of playdough, this is strengthening their math skills. Encouraging them to comment on the different shapes and sizes of their playdough helps them learn geometry and other mathematical concepts. 

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