## Playdough Kabobs – Preschool Math & Fine Motor

“It’s just pretend!” is a very common phrase at our house. From my daughter telling us she is eight not three, my son yelling at imaginary troops in the backyard, and even when we set extra place settings for imaginary friends at meals, we do a lot of pretending. Often pretend play is a way for kids to practice being an adult, try on new roles, and do things that are not usually for them. This playdough activity that includes both math and fine motor skills came about because my daughter loves helping me cook dinner, especially when we are having kabobs. She is a master at skewering veggies and will often make patterns. So on a rainy day { get ready for lots of those…} we decided to grab the playdough and pretend we were making dinner and do a little learning along the way.

Gather your materials. You will need Play-Doh, skewers, a bowl, and a cookie sheet. I was setting up the materials shot when my daughter grabbed my phone and took her own. I don’t think it was too bad!
Start by rolling the playdough into balls. This is great for hand strength which is part handwriting development. Make a bowl full – we worked on ours together.
Next gently thread the playdough balls on. If they stab the playdough too far from the center they will fall off. If they aren’t on well just show your child to give them a squeeze.
This activity naturally welcomes counting. After she was done one skewer she laid it on the cookie sheet and counted all the playdough balls.
When she picked up the next skewer I asked if she thought she could make a pattern. So she did. She informed me that it was pink and “orange pink”.

Simple activities like these tap into so many different kinds of learning as well as creates a space to sit and work on something with your child.

## d

Everybody Cooks Rice  by Norah Dooley is a fantastic book! The book follows a sister who is looking for her brother in their San Francisco neighborhood. As she goes from door to door each neighbor invites her in to eat some of their supper. Everybody is having some sort of rice dish even though they are all from different countries. My 6 year old really enjoyed this book and understood the message well , my 3 year old sat through it no problem too. There are so many future lessons about geography, nutrition, and travel packed in this one little book! Awesome find.

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert is an alphabet book extraordinaire and perfect for a letter F eek, since it’s all about food!  Wonderful paintings of fruits and vegetables seem ultra simple and it is but somehow the way the author has pieced this simple book together is brilliant. Maybe it’s that children learn about food at the table multiple times a day and feel proud being able to identify not only some of the letters but some of the pictures too! From a teaching standpoint I love that there are both upper and lower case letters on each page! This book will grow with your child, and beware it will also make you hungry.

Yum Yum Dim Sum by Amy Wilson Sanger is a book that makes me crave dumplings something fierce but my daughter seems to like the rhymes and pink and red colors throughout. The book explains in a zippy text all about Dim Sum . It’s a board book targeted to babies it’s really useful to use to teach children about foods they may be unfamiliar with. There is even a little appendix with Chinese words for all the items mentioned in the book like tea, rice and tarts.

## Playdough Animals

I love when I set up an activity with one child in mind and the other ends up completely into it. I love the addition of small items to playdough not just for the extra kick of fine motor development ( playdough all by itself is great for it) but also for the extra kick of creativity. My toddler took to this activity very literally decorating her butterfly but my son experimented with decorating as well as using the materials as tools.  I love watching the gears turn in their heads!

1. Gather your materials. You will need some playdough ( I love the commercial stuff but have some great recipes if you want to make your own) , animal shaped cookie cutters, googley eyes, beads/bits of straws/buttons and other embellishments.
2. Start by choosing a color of playdough and pressing it down flat.
3. Choose a cookie cutter and cut out.
4. Start decorating. I love how a simple googly eye transforms the playdough. My daughter was totally into it but it was my son who surprised me. He was far more focused than I expected him to be. He quickly discovered that the beads made cool prints and that he could make it look like scales and fur.
5. After she was done her butterfly my daughter found our plastic scissors and joined us at the table to do some playdough cutting.
6. My son just kept creating. He couldn’t wait to show his dad what he made and his new techniques when he got home from work.

## Rainbow Playdough Color Sorting

Playdough is one of our favorite materials and as you will see I rarely use homemade stuff. I love real Play-Doh especially the smell. So we bought the real stuff ( although homemade would work just as easily) and made a simple multi-sensory color sorting activity. This activity works on color and shape recognition, fine motor skills and counting.  It’s also easy to set up and  fun.

1. Gather your materials. You will need play-doh in various colors. We did the rainbow but any combination of colors would work. You will also need some buttons, wood shapes, pony beads, or other small items in the same or very similar colors.
2. Set up your play-doh. I used half a canister for each color.
3. Invite your little genius to come match up some colors. My daughter was into it immediately. She loves pushing small things into play-doh so I knew she would be into this. I was still happy she was enjoying herself.
4. Adding the small items works on color matching , shape recognition and of course fine motor skills too. While they add the items try narrating their actions saying things like “You found the blue circle!” and ” You added the red star to the red play-doh.” if you are new to narrating it can feel a little odd but it really helps toddlers and preschool aged kids with vocabulary and it prompts conversation. Older kids will let you know when it’s no longer welcome , trust me .
5. When she was done with adding the buttons and beads she counted each color. When we were one she helped me take the items out and put the play-doh away.

## Books To Check Out

These Books About Colors are my very favorite and all go so well with this activity whether you choose to match up one color or the whole rainbow.

## 15 Playdough Activities & Recipes Too!

There is something so soothing about playdough. Some of my favorite memories from teaching were little conversations shared with students at the playdough table.  At our house we play with playdough so much that one of our kitchen drawers is filled with containers of it and fun stuff for my kids to add to the play. Below are some of my favorite playdough activities we have shared over the last 5 years here. I hope your kids have as much fun with it as we do.

Recipes for homemade playdoughand my favorite Gluten Free Playdough

## Footprints in the Snow {Playdough Play}

My daughter adores playdough and cooking so last week we made some simple white playdough and added snowflakes ( that promptly melted of course – duh! Add after it cools…) and then had fun playing pretend with some forest animals. This is about as simple as it gets but there are so many wonderful lesson possibilities packed in this simple play.

First we made the playdough. The recipe we used is my favorite .

Something I do with my daughter ( or the toddlers I taught when my own kids were only imaginary) is to play Simon Says before doing someting where I may have to say ” Don’t touch!” a lot. Instead of turning this activity into a negative one when I need her to not touch I simply say ” Simon says touch your nose!” As it turned out I didn’t even have to use this but we still had fun with our pre playdough making game.

She helped me mix the dry ingredients, I  kneaded the dough while it was too hot for her to touch and gave her some extra flour to explore on the counter.  I slipped in some glitter too.

This playdough is best after it’s chilled so we made it before nap time. Then after nap time it was ready to be played with.

I love these animal toys. They leave real footprints. We sat across the playroom table from each other and just started making prints. We looked at them, at which were bigger than the others and how many we could make from one side of the playdough to the other.  Soon a storyline emerged the raccoon was saving the other animals from a “Snow bump” <– which is 2 year old speak for a snow bank. It was hilarious to watch her narrate a whole complex story line including some negotiation during the various rescues.

At this time of year with so much sparkle and wow and rush it’s a blessing to sit and be and take things slow and easy with a toddler . We’ve played this exact activity over and over and each time felt calm and connected after. Something I know most all of us can use right now.

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