Find your rolling pins and get ready to create—today is National Play-Doh Day! Play-Doh is a childhood classic—spaghetti, zoo animals, simple shapes, you’ve made them all—and even if you haven’t it’s never too late! After all, there’s no rule that says adults can’t play with Play-Doh.
Some adults, however, may not know the true power of Play-Doh, especially when it comes to early learners. For many young learners, what seems like simple playing to pass the time is actually integrally important to early childhood development—and the best part? As a parent, guardian, teacher, or friend you can expand on sensory play with your little one by using observation as a teachable moment.
“Sensory play” is literally what it sounds like; an engaging activity that stimulates a child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. We asked Kimberly Clough, Administrator of the Preschool at the Boonshoft Museum, for ways parents can expand on simple sensory activities, “Observation is critical to all scientific discovery. Engaging children is crucial when it comes to their learning experiences. Turn off the cell phone, the television, and sit with your child and simply engage them at eye-level, ask them about what they are doing. Think about what the child is smelling, hearing, tasting, seeing, and feeling, ask them questions — then let the learning commence!”
Can you remember the moment you learned what “soft” felt like? What about sticky? Or what about different smells, and how to define them? Simple observations create a moment to share what you know with your child, which helps them learn!
Because we can’t end this post without some awesome experiments, below are not one, but TWO recipes for a simple salt dough and a Boonshoft Preschool Classic, cornstarch dough. Enjoy mixing your way to awesome sensory fun and observe away!
1.5 – 2 c. Cornstarch
1 c. Water
A few drops of food coloring.
Mix ingredients into a bowl, then add the food coloring. Try mixing different colors so your young scientist can learn that mixing colors can make new colors on the color wheel!
Expand: To add to the sensory fun, use cornstarch and shaving foam in a 1:1 ratio!
1 c. Salt
1 c. lukewarm water
2 c. Flour
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then slowly pour in water and mix. Your Play-Doh should be stored in an air tight container like a mason jar or plastic ware.
Expand: To add to the sensory fun you can add spices, glitter, and color to your salt dough. You can also turn your salt dough into a permanent craft creation by baking it in the oven at 2000F. To completely dry the dough out, it may need to be in the oven for a few hours, depending on the thickness of your creation. Once dry, you can have fun painting your salt dough to complete your permanent masterpiece!
Interested in different dough recipes? Click here.
See what else the Preschool at the Boonshoft Museum has in store by clicking here.