Playdough Battleground – Fine Motor Pretend Play

playdough playYou know those moments of parenthood when you say “never” and then a few years later you eat your words. Yeah. I said I’d never let my son play with toy guns and while I still don’t buy the actual toy guns we do allow figurines with guns, pretend play with finger guns etc…  I know not every family allows it and others find there to be nothing wrong with weapon play at all. Like everything on our site use what will interest your child. I preach to follow their interests and find ways to teach using them and right now my son’s biggest interest is history , specifically WWII. This playdough activity isn’t just shooting each other it’s an invitation to play and learn.

  1. Gather your materials. We used plastic soldiers ( ours were specific WWII that came with an American and German flag), playdough we used every package we could find in the house, craft sticks, pompoms ( these were bombs) and your imagination.
  2. I just gave him the supplies and let him go. playdough play
  3. He built bunkers, trenches and special huts. This play is amazing fine motor work both molding the playdough and placing the small figurines.
  4. Later he created prisons for the POWs and I didn’t get a shot of it but we made a hill and water to make a D-Day beach.
  5. While playing we talked about all sorts of things. I do not want to glorify war but instead talk about the sacrifices everyone involved made, talk about why there was a war and how no matter what side the soldiers were on they have families who missed them.  My husband and I have sat down together to decide what we think our son can handle as far as facts about history so when he asks us ” Tell me a story about World War Two.” we know what the other is telling him and not telling him for now.
  6. Don’t forget just to have fun too. I know sometimes I need to remember this . He played for at least 2 hours, stopping briefly only for lunch. More than a few times he told me ” Mommy I love history!” let’s hope he carries that through school!

 

Alphabet Playdough – Alphabet For Starters

alphabet for starters no time for flash cards

Introducing children to letters doesn’t have to only use print material especially for the very young. Children learn with all their senses and it’s best to teach them using as many as we can. These simple but valuable introductory activities is what this series Alphabet For Starters is all about. My daughter who just starting to show interest in letters loved this simple sensory activity. We played and played naming letters as we pressed them into the squishy playdough. Try to avoid using this time to quiz your child on their knowledge ( I know it’s hard not to ) instead label what they are doing.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some playdough ( we have great playdough recipes and even a gluten free playdough recipe) and alphabet cookie cutters. alphabet for starters
  2. When starting any activity with a toddler I like to start them ready to play. I gave her a few letters to start and a hunk of playdough pressed flat. alphabet for starters
  3. She started playing and naming letters immediately. She knows a handful of letters but all the ones she doesn’t are named R . I don’t tell her ” NO it’s T! This is T!” I just say something like ” You are pressing the letter T so hard into the playdough.” or ” Look at that yellow T you have.” There is no rush – just play with the letters.alphabet for starters
  4. I was shocked with how long she played – it just went on and on! We grabbed more letters from the bin. alphabet for starters
  5.  I asked her which letters she liked and even though she said A and M she played with R way more than any other letter. It was fun to watch her explore knowing that in an instant she will be reading and writing like her brother. Savoring these simple playdough activities is such a treat. alphabet for starters

Like this activity but you have an older sibling who wants to play too?  Or a child who is already familiar with the alphabet?

Here are a few tasks for them  :

  • Use the cookie cutters to cut out the letters of their names.
  • Give them words to cut out and spell.
  • Guess how many letters they can fit in one hunk of playdough without overlapping the prints.

 

 

Playdough + Drinking Straws = Simple Fun

Guest Post by Cathy James

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Playdough is such a versatile play material that we really can’t get enough of it in our house. My elder daughter is nine now and we’ve been using playdough since she was around the age of one. We make a fresh batch using our favorite homemade recipe every few months and have it out to play most weeks. That’s a lot of playdough playing! I think it’s remained one of our favorite ways to play because we’re always adding new elements – new ingredients or accessories to give it a twist and invite the children to try the dough a different way.

Have you ever tried adding drinking straws to your playdough? This was a super frugal material for us as they’d already been used for scissor practise and making some contact paper art – but how would the kids use it with playdough? It’s always interesting to offer a new combination of materials, sit alongside an observe, and see what they children discover.

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Firstly, my 5-year-old discovered the drinking straws were great for making circle patterns in the playdough – and sometimes the playdough stayed inside the straw and she made lots of holes.

IMG_4619-1 Even more fun was discovering that with a gentle squeeze she could make lots of playdough worms pop out of the straws.

IMG_4640-1 She tested out how to make the straws stand upright in the dough and we mixed in some math play by ordering the straw pieces from the biggest to the smallest. She also made families by collecting all the straws into matching color groups – great classification practise while she played.

What could you add to your playdough this week to give you children something new to discover? We’ve tried chocolate, toothpicks, pencils and leaves with great fun results.

5733152631_944482ec16_mIf you’d like a printable version of our favorite playdough recipes, together with a year’s worth of ideas of things you can add in with your playdough, please stop by NurtureStore to get a free copy of our Let’s Play Dough ebook. I’d love to welcome you over on our Facebook page too – please come and like NurtureStore and I’ll keep in a regular supply of new play ideas.

 

Cathy James is the creative force behind NurtureStore a blog devoted to play ideas, kids’ crafts and fun activities.

Playdough Play Mats – Silly Hairdos!

This sensory activity allows kids to use their imagination to give you or themselves a new hairdo with playdough. My toddler is a huge fan of playdough play and it’s great stuff for toddlers and preschoolers… but my 5 year old gets bored easily sometimes. It’s not essential we all play the same things but it’s nice to play and be silly together .It was inspired by this paint project from Putti Prapancha . Adapting it to playdough  allowed us all to sit and play together .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some sheet protectors, some photos of faces that you can cut, playdough ( ours is store bought but homemade will work a-ok), a few sheets of construction paper, some scissors, painters tape, double stick tape and a garlic press.
  2. Start by cutting out the faces from some family pictures. Cut off the hair! playdough ideas
  3. Tape them onto the construction paper using double stick tape.
  4. Slip it into a page protector. I had to trim my construction paper to fit.Tape to the table with painter’s tape if you have a little one like my daughter who takes great pleasure in “clearing off” tables.
  5. Start playing. We used the garlic press, our hands and scissors to make the hair. preschool play dough stuff
  6. My daughter loved putting it on my face, apparently she wants me to have a goatee. Don’t worry about toddlers putting the hair in the “right” place, there is no “right” place.  Talk about who they are looking at , talk about how squishy the playdough is and ask if they have hair etc… no need to make it a battle of wills, this is supposed to be play, so let them explore.
  7. We rotated through the pictures taking turns ( another good lesson) .He loved mixing the colors in the garlic press.
  8. Squeezing it out.
  9. Adding it on. For some reason the concept of chest hair has been a big topic at our house – not something I was expecting until closer to puberty but ok. He added some on his sister and himself. Have fun with this.

Books About Families

Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gilman is one of those books that you read and think oh I love it, but will kids? I am here to tell you yes! They love this old Yiddish folk tale about a little boy, his very special blanket and his grandfather who made it for him. Over the years Joseph’s blanket transforms into a jacket, a vest, a tie, and handkerchief and finally a button. The story is beautiful and kids love not only the repetitive text when the grandfather is sewing but also the continuing storyline of the mice that live under the floor boards who use the scraps of material for all sorts of things. There are no goofy gimmicks, no lights or sounds just a great story and beautiful illustrations in this gem! A fantastic book about family and growing up.

All Kinds of Families! by Mary Ann Hoberman was not what my son or I expected at all. The story is really disjointed both connecting similar objects into families and talking about the generations of a family. I like  that it explains that there can be all sorts of families  and that it talks about how your family makes you into new things like a son, sister or cousin but I think mixing the two is too disconnected for the average picture book reading kid. To be honest it was a little disjointed for me too.  My son was ready for it to be over half way through and that is never a good sign. Usually by the time he’s asked if it’s over he’s tuned out. The illustrations were cute but even they didn’t save it for us.

The Family Book by Todd Parr is a book that doesn’t give readers a narrow definition of family , it doesn’t say that your family has to look a certain way, or be the same as your neighbors. As a teacher I really appreciated the matter of fact way it embraced diversity. Kids see that families are not all like theirs and it’s important to validate the truth while recognizing that while they may not all look alike, all families are made with love. Great book , cute illustrations and children love it.

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Playdough Play – Toy Prints

We play with playdough daily, usually more than once. My daughter is fascinated with it and her favorite thing to do with it is to press objects into the playdough and make prints. This was not a planned post at all, and all the photos were taken with my phone since I didn’t want to interrupt her play to grab my camera that was downstairs. Simple discovery play like this is my favorite and such a fun way to connect with your toddler.

 

We started with our playdough and usual cookie cutters. I usually switch the cutters and color of playdough out every few weeks. Then she grabbed this light up wand of her brothers and started making prints. She was in giggly heaven, especially since it lit up every time she hit it hard enough into the play dough.

Then we grabbed some duplo and made prints . These we all agreed looked like cheezits!

We flipped the duplo over and made little “buttons” and she very carefully pressed each one.

Her giggles and my photo snapping attracted the attention of my son who brought over a gear to press into the playdough.

Activities like these that use toys you have in new and novel ways with a sense of discovery ” Hey what sort of print with that block make?” is such and easy activity but trust me it will go on for a long time, happily! We also used little people which if you press the bottom into the playdough make a shape rather reminiscent of a nipple. My nursing daughter pointed that out to me right away , the picture was rather life like so I skipped it. Other fun toys were train tracks ( skip the trains the playdough will get stuck in the wheels) and chunky puzzle pieces .