Playdough can be found in almost any preschool classroom. It can be homemade or store bought, and it comes in just about any color or can be made into just about any color you like.
Playdough can and probably will make a mess on the table and floor but you can set a ball of playdough in front of just about any preschooler and he or she will find it enjoyable. Add a few cookie cutters, a rolling pin, or other toys and a new dimension of fun is created.
The benefit of playdough is the word "play". When teachers introduce playdough, they usually do not have an ultimate agenda or ending outcome - the children are simply given opportunity to play. Play produces some of the best learning in young children.
Playdough increases fine motor strength and skills
In the photo above, the child has spent time pulling the playdough a part, putting it back together, and rolling the dough into a ball, and is now trying to pat the ball flat. All of these actions are a workout on small hands with out the frustration of having to cut on a line and with the ability to be creative or have fun.
Playdough offers opportunities to increase vocabulary as well
The teacher in this class set out only the color orange because it happen to be the week of Halloween. The teacher hoped to reinforce the color orange simply by setting out the playdough. This gives opportunity for conversations about the color word - orange. What other words can be emphasized through casual conversations with the child? How about words like soft, hard, small, big, slice, cut, mold, cold, warm.
Playdough naturally leads into scientific discovery
Does cold play dough feel different than warm play dough? What happens to the playdough if it is left out all night? What happens if the playdough gets wet? How does it taste? What ingredients are in the playdough? Letting children help make their own playdough also presents greater opportunities to learn.
Take time to observe the learning taking place at the playdough table
Preschoolers love to show you what they are creating. Some preschoolers will naturally work and socialize with one another while playing with the dough. Other preschoolers may rather work in silence. The beauty of playdough is that there really is no right or wrong - it is simply all about discovery, exploration, sensory, creativity, and play.