21 May Hands-on learning with Play dough
Remember the expression on your child’s face when you buy him/her a fresh batch of play dough? Available now in attractive colors so as to keep the attention of even a toddler for a long time, play dough need not be treated as just another “toy”. It can be used in a variety of ways to enhance your child’s playtime and introduce some learning experiences as play based learning.
Math skills – This subject can give a parent nightmares, but can be made very approachable using play dough. Even before starting to identify the numerals, your child can start identifying shapes and quantities using the dough. Direct your child to roll 2 circles or cut out 3 triangles and watch the fun the child has doing it. Then similar to the letters, the child can also learn to roll or cut out the number figures. Play dough retains the interest of your child over a period of many years and as your child gets to the schooling age, you can plan a myriad of fun activities to teach even the more serious subjects like addition and subtraction. Watching children learning through play is one of the most amazing things for any parent to experience.
Motor skills – Although not recommended for younger babies who still tend to put things in their mouths, once your toddler has passed this stage you can safely introduce them to some hands-on learning using play dough. You will see that it can be of great use in developing their motor skills. You can make them practice rolling the dough and making it into different shapes as some first steps. You will always treasure the moments of “Mommy! I made a circle!”. Another interesting adaptation is to get your child to use a rolling pin (toy ones are available) to roll out and straighten the dough.
Language skills – As your child grows a little older, you can develop your own learning games starting from forming letters or sounds using the dough, to using stencil cutters to form the alphabets and create small words out of it. The fun of shaping and using different colors will make it a lot more interesting for your child to have a fun learning experience and he will not treat it as a tedious chore any more.
These are just some of the major skills your child can pick up and enhance using play dough. There may be many other things of interest such as mixing colors to see which color comes up as a result, or learning to use small tools like scissors and cutters which your child will also experience and learn along the way. So the next time the play dough dries out or just wears out and you have to buy a new batch, think about all the fun activities and learning experiences you can plan with it for your child.
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