Playdough Benefits for Children

The many playdough benefits for children

The benefits of playdough for toddlers and preschoolers are numerous, making it a great regular play resource.

This ever-popular substance remains a favourite for preschoolers.  

Playdough is a staple in every preschool as well as many family homes. It can be purchased from a number of toy stores or supermarkets or alternatively can be made using simple ingredients such as flour, food colouring, salt, and water.

Playdough’s soft squishy moldable texture makes it appealing to children who can shape and mold it into whatever shape that their imagination allows. This plasticity allows for free-form creation meaning that there is no right or wrong way to use playdough and the child can create happily without having to adhere to any set rules. 

The 5 main benefits of playdough as a learning aid

The benefits of playdough extend beyond a simple activity. As a learning aid, playdough benefits are many. The five main benefits are -:

Motor Skills Development

Development of finger muscles and proper finger control is a critical part of a child’s development. Ideally this finger control will be sufficiently developed prior to attending Primary school. All that pinching, squishing, rolling, breaking, flattening and molding of playdough helps the child’s finger muscles and control to develop. This development can be aided by giving children simple tools to aid their play. Such tools would include plastic knives, plastic cutters and rolling pins.

Creativity

Working with playdough stimulates the child’s imagination. Playdough provides a blank canvas for children to create what they imagine. This process allows the child to use symbolic thinking, in pretending that the playdough is something else. The process of symbolic thinking aids cognitive development and helps children to express their ideas.

Initially, the younger child will concentrate on creating simple items like worms and balls. More complicated creations will evolve as the child grows and begins to play with others. 

Concentration

One of the great benefits of play dough for young children is that it helps the child to develop their concentration span. Concentration span is defined as the ability to block out all other stimuli while focussing on one  soke task. Obviously the development of a child’s concentration span is critical for success in later years.

Playdough for kids is a quiet activity that encourages the child to sit and focus on the one activity for a substantial period of time. As they become involved in the process of creating with playdough, children become focused on achieving what they want to and will push themselves to stick to the task. 

As their ability to persevere  develops, they will push themselves to focus more on getting things right.

Maths and Science

The benefits of playdough extend into maths and science. Following a simple playdough recipe helps to introduce such concepts as measuring counting, but the maths and science applications  don’t stop there.

The playdough learning story encapsulates such concepts as measuring, mixing and experimentation.  Children become engrossed in participating in transforming a mixture into playdough. This fascination leads to children enjoying experimentation with adding in and mixing colours to create new colours. All of this experimentation builds knowledge that can be applied in other areas of life. The playdough experience can also aid in adding descriptive words to the child’s vocabulary while also encouraging children to predict what could happen when combining colours or adding more water or flour to a playdough recipe.

The simple scientific concept of cause and effect can be learned through playing with and shaping playdough. This concept can be further consolidated by engaging the child in conversation while they play. Open ended questions can be used to encourage predictions and further experimentation. 

Therapeutic benefit

Sometimes, a child becomes overstimulated and they need a change of pace to calm them down. Playdough can make the perfect change of pace and help transition them from boisterous and noisy to relaxed and quiet.  There are recipes available to make homemade playdough that can accentuate this therapeutic calming effect by adding scents such as citrus, lavender and rose.

Playdough is one of those activities that every child can enjoy. It’s texture and plasticity make it a very calming substance to play with. Many adults fins that they can’t resist at least a few minutes playing with playdough when they have an excuse to do so. 

The activity is relaxing and highly therapeutic. It can reduce stress and is a wonderful medium for an anxious child.

How to make playdough for kids

This simple playdough recipe uses simple household ingredients found in most households.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup salt
  • ½ to 1 cup water
  • Food colouring

Method:

This simple method is easy to follow: simply mix the flour, oil and salt together in a bowl. Then add two drops of food colouring to the water being careful to check how the colouring mixes with the water. Then slowly add the coloured water to the mix and stir to achieve your desired consistency. Take care with the water as the mix can at first seem too dry until it has been thoroughly mixed. Once prepared, store in a sealed container.