Play dough play provides children with lots of great opportunities to use their imagination and strengthen their fine motor skills. It can also provide hours of fun while children develop problem solving, language and social skills!
Let’s explore different play extensions that build on this interest and expand their knowledge and experience.
- Provide a variety of materials to explore the five senses. Engage and stimulate conversation. Ask open and ended questions (ie: what do you think will happen when…?)
- Mix different types of liquids in a container and explore what happens when liquids are mixed. (ie: baking powder and water, yeast and water, oil and paints)
- Combine nature items with play dough.
- Provide the children with some clay to explore, and talk about:
- What is the difference between dough and clay?
- Where does clay come from?
- What kinds of things do we use that are made of clay?
- Compare the clay when it’s wet and when it’s dry (ie: How does it feel when it’s wet and soft? What about when it dries? Is it stronger/heavier/softer/smellier when it’s wet, or when it’s dry?)
- How do people around the world use clay? (ie: to sculpt and make ceramics, build houses etc.)
- Bake cookies and explore while combining and mixing ingredients. Older children can follow directions with picture cards from a recipe. Discover and talk about taste, smell and temperature used for baking.
- Discover what happens when you mix very little water with flour or too much water. Find out what happens to the texture of the mixture.
- Look at different types of flour or grain, discuss texture, add a liquid and find out what happens!
- Use a variety of materials to make play dough (ie:atmeal, cornmeal, pea flour)
- Use measuring utensils and a scale to measure and weigh the ingredients for making a recipe for play dough.
- Explore a variety of smells and taste and texture, herbs, spices, scents and colors place in smelling jars.
- Grow plants that are used to make flour (ie: wheat, oats and corn) Discuss how flour is made, how food is grown in different countries, and what plants need to grow, different types of soil, climate, and how long grains takes to grow.
- Explore different grains that are used to make flour:
- What happens when you mix water with ingredients??
- Which grains are biggest/smallest/brightest/darkest/ smoothest/bumpiest?
- Does it look different through a microscope?
- How does it feel to touch the consistency and texture of making dough
- Is it hard, soft, heavy, light?
- Talk about the texture of different types of dough
- How do they smell?
- How we grow things, where our food come from?
- Set up a bakery to make and sell baked items that represent the community, family or cultures in your program.
- Make different types of bread (ie: pizza, naan, pasta, dumpling and biscuits )
- Package and label items in a variety of languages. Display product in boxes, bags, tins fabric and other materials cultural use to sell these products.
- Add accessories that represent other cultures (ie: baker hats, flour and rice bags representing different languages, baskets, aprons, ingredients and utensils used for baking or shopping)
- Display pictures, food items and play music.
- Provide children with natural clay and set up a little sculpting studio and/or pottery wheel. They could even pretend to be builders, and build a clay house for some little people or animals!
- Visit a bakery or store in the community that sells baked items, or maybe even a pottery studio!
- Set up an area in or near the bakery to socialize and eat items purchased from the bakery
- Incorporate blocks and build an outdoor area for eating or a pretend fire for cooking/baking. You could even add car park for vehicles!
- Extend the bakery to include a community grocery store that sells additional products from other cultures. Collect items and display from around the world fruits, vegetables, pasta, rice, beans
- Set up an outdoor stand where you can display creations and/or baked goods.
- Consider adding a pick-up and delivery service to your bakery/shop (ie:Uber Eats or UPS)
- Add phones, money, cash register and/or tablet for taking orders.
- Measure, weigh and count ingredients using scoops and scales.
- Older children can follow direction from pictures to make a recipe.
- Provide the children with a brick of natural clay to explore, build and play with. Talk about where it comes from and how people around the world use it to sculpt and make pottery or even build homes!
- Create a matching game with colours and numbers.
- Count and package items to sell in the bakery.
- Talk about the textures of different types of materials that can be used to make play dough, clay or goop.
- Add a Mr. Potato heads to your play dough (without any of the body/face parts) and encourage the children toy make body parts out of play dough
- Discuss different types of things that are made of dough (ie: cookies, pasta, pizza, bread and biscuits)
- Look at pictures and books of different types of cooks and foods around the world that are made of dough
- Explore the taste and smells of different ingredients and baked products.
- Share your favourite things to add to play dough
- Label and use words from other cultures to describe the ingredients and materials to introduce new words and sounds from different languages.
- Sort and classify items by colour, size, shapes (ie: bagels. Buns, dumplings, naan)
- Discuss the ingredients in play dough and where they come from. Talk about what other things those ingredients can make.
- Talk about how things grow and are made into food (ie: how wheat grows and is turned into flour to make food.)
Culture and diversity
- When making play dough, you can incorporate a variety of spices and smell into the dough.
- Gather pictures from different countries (ie: products made with flour, bread, cookies, naan, roti, pita, dumplings, perogies and bagels.)
- Find out what smells and textures are familiar to the children and find ways to introduce some new smells and tastes. (Snack time is a great time to try this!).
- Label and use words from other cultures to describe food, ingredients and materials.
- Add a variety of materials to play dough with or make your own play dough using ingredients like cornmeal or oatmeal, tumeric, cardamom, vanilla, or maybe even using sand and soil!
- Include materials and utensils, books and recipes from other cultures.
- Provide the children with a brick of natural clay to explore, build and play with. Talk about where it comes from and how people around the world use it to build different structures/homes, make ceramics and art!
- Invite others from the community to create and share their stories, music or food items. (a baker, cook, or someone from a pottery/ceramics studio)
- Provide culturally diverse materials that reflect the families in your program (ie: pictures and posters, music and songs, dual language materials)
- Talk with families:
- Do they have any special breads or family recipes that they might like to share?.
- What items and utensils do they use to make meals that might be different?
- Collect simple snack recipes and make them.
- Collect and display items from families – these might be pictures or items that are made of clay (i.e.: ceramics, tools, art)
- (Families can record a story or music to share if they cannot visit.)
- Share ideas with families about snacks and ways to introduce new foods to children.
- Talk about the role family members play in purchasing and preparing meals.
- Visit the pizza shop, bakery, pottery studio, art gallery, or museum.
- Talk about things that can be made with dough and/or clay in our communities.
- Collect pictures of different types of bread (ie: bagels,naan, pita) Find out how to make it and try to involve the parents. (ie: they can do it at home, or come help in the program)
- Make extra play dough so the children can take home, or provide a recipe to the parents to try.
Gross motor and movement
- Use a rolling pin or chakla and belan to roll back and forth while sitting on the floor.
- Make play dough balls to throw
- Create a treasure hunt for the children to find specific items to use to make the play dough
- Go on a walk through the neighbourhood to find the bakery, and/or things made of clay.
- Create a balance game where children try to carry different items on their heads or in their hands.
- Dough and spoon race
- Play hockey with play dough or clay instead of a regular puck.
- Set up a manual pottery wheel (that is powered by your legs and feet!
- Children will practice hand-eye coordination and strengthen fine motor skills while manipulating, sculpting and working with play dough and other materials.
- Practice cutting play dough with child-safe knives and scissors.
- Roll out the dough to make pizza or bread to strengthen fine and gross motor skills.
- Pouring and mixing of materials to create play dough provides opportunities to strengthen hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
- Provide natural clay and/or modelling clay for the children to explore, manipulate and sculpt with.
- Provide loose parts and different tools to use with the clay or dough (ie: tongs, toothpicks, chopsticks, pebbles)
- Creating with play dough helps children feel competent and capable
- Squeezing, rolling, pounding and smoothing are safe outlets for stress
- Play dough play creates opportunities to
- talk about what they are creating
- use their imagination and express themselves
- Practice socializing, listening and talking with friends
- You can make play dough using almost any ingredients (oatmeal, mud, flour, cornmeal)
- Add a variety of ingredients with different scents and textures into the play dough (ie:lemon, cinnamon, cocoa powder, cardamom, fresh herbs)
- Try using and comparing different kinds of clay and dough (ie: natural clay, plasticine, and homemade play dough)
- Cut playdough into a variety of shapes and bake
- Add items like small plastic toys, shapes and blocks to the play dough
- Mix fresh flowers and/or natural materials into the play dough (ie: sticks, herbs, leaves, rocks and seeds)
- Infants and toddler make edible playdough that safe
- Add playdough to the water bin or sand area
- Make play dough goop by adding water
Art and creative
- Cut play dough into different shapes, let it dry and paint
- Provide a variety of scents, herbs, oils and spices for the children to experiment with and add to the play dough
- Make a clay oven for baking bread and pizza used outdoors
- Use flour paste instead of glue to stick things together. Add colour or a scent to the paste.
- Create and sculpt with different kinds of play dough, clay and loose parts
- Build structures with play dough and/or clay
- Explore colour mixing with play dough
- Create pretend food with play dough.
- Set up materials to explore working on the floor instead of a table or easel.
- Set up materials outdoors to explore with nature, pebbles, rocks branches, feathers, leaves (or bring the outdoors in!)
- Have lots of discussions using open-ended questions to stimulate conversations about:
- Wet- dry
- Soft- hard
- Colors -shapes
- Counting/number s
- Temperatures (ie: hot-cold)
- Textures (ie: lumpy – smooth)
- Squishing, rolling, sculpting, moulding
- Time and how long it takes to bake or make something
- Ingredients used to make play dough
DDifferent materials children can use with play dough
- Play dough recipe–flour, oil, salt, cream tartar, water
- Corn Starch, oatmeal, cornmeal, bran
- Food coloring
- Cookie-cutters of different shapes, placemats, measuring cups, scoops and scales
- Variety of containers, boxes, cloth, brown and plastic bags, cans/tins
- Garlic press, potato masher, sifter, straws, toothpicks
- Eye droppers, strainers, different sizes and shapes of pots and pans
- A variety of scents and spices (vanilla, cinnamon, lemon, turmeric, cardamom, fresh herbs and flowers)
- Rolling pins, chakla and belan (for rolling roti and chapatis etc.)
- Plastic knives, spoons and forks
- Baskets, ziplock bags
- Different ingredients like: vinegar, olive oil, yeast, baking powder, and/or different kinds of flour
- Microscope and/or binoculars
- Paper, pencil, tablet, cashier register, foreign money
- Paint brushes and paint (powder and liquid)
- Pasta maker, grater, utensils, scoops, pots, pans, steam baskets
- Loose parts (ie: sparkles, buttons, cotton balls and/or feathers)
- Posters, books and pictures
- Modelling clay, natural clay and/or a pottery wheel/utensils
Room setup and considerations
- Make sure materials and resources are accessible to the children (that they can get them with our asking for help).
- Provide a variety of materials from different cultures
- Consider water source set up.
- Set up areas for individual and group activity
- Consider how different interest areas might be combined Consider age and developmental stages. How could you modify the activity to work better for infants and young toddlers?
- Consider transition times and how you can make clean up fun! (or at least go a little more smoothly)
- Consider communication and how you can share ideas with others