Sunday, February 5

PLAY DOUGH: A Refresher on Play Based Learning

 “Play dough”-  I have heard these two words said with joy and excitement.  Whether it is making or using play dough.  Play dough! How can this activity demonstrate learning through play.

Many parents probably have thought the following questions;
·        How does a child learn through play?
·        What does a child learn?
·        How does play based differ from a teacher directed curriculum?

These questions are valid ones, and hopefully I answer them!

Play dough play is, as we say a “ no brainer”.  It incorporates so many aspects of learning.  It encompasses the concrete, internalization and social parts that go with learning.

The concrete aspect is the scientific.  The young child will see how items can be transformed.  All of the ingredients of play dough [ flour, salt, cream of tartar, vegetable oil and water] become something different when mixed together. The ingredients of play dough are transformed into a different concrete object.  Piaget would approve.


SENSORY – the feel of  flour that becomes play dough demonstrates the internalization factor of learning though the sense of touch. Young children expand their vocabulary. Words such as soft, wet, dry and colour.

SOCIAL AWARENESS is encouraged.  Play dough is usually  presented in a group setting.  It encourages sharing, turn taking and group belonging.

CREATIVITY [ a most necessary part of learning] and imagination are stimulated.  A young child develops representational play.  An object can be used to represent  something else.  For example you can roll play dough to be a snake.

Play dough helps develop MANUAL DEXTERITY. Even in this computer age we still need eye-hand coordination and strengthening of the small muscles of fingers, hand and wrist.

This simple activity is an extremely, valuable learning tool and experience for young children. 

Thank you, M.Roslyn Walker, a veteran toddler teacher in Ottawa for the great thoughts.