Starry Sky Playdough
Lesson plan developed by Aurora Tollestrup, BS Ed
Activities and materials encourage children to develop their senses.
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Physical Development and Playdough
The physical development practice opportunities that playdough brings are obvious, but often can be nurtured further to make engaging opportunities. Small motor skills are important developmental skills that children of all ages need to strengthen. Younger children will need more practice and more fine-tuning of these skills, but older children can benefit from them as well.
Small or fine motor skills refer to the use of the smaller muscles in the hands in conjunction with eyesight. It can also include other small muscle groups such as the lips, toes, tongue or wrists. Playdough can aid in the development of small motor skills in the hands and wrists especially. Creating activities with playdough with the intention of exercising those small muscle groups is very simple and fun for children.
Infants should not be given playdough without very close adult supervision, but you can closely assist an infant in pinching pieces of playdough off of a ball of dough, which exercises the pincer grip. If this particular infant is known for putting everything in their mouth it may be wise to use an edible playdough recipe for this type of play. Furthermore, you may wish to make a sensory bag with playdough or slime as well as colorful pom-poms or beads for the infant to try to grab. This exercises fine motor skills in a sage way.
Toddlers are still developing their fine motor skills and can benefit greatly from the use of playdough and tools. Tools that are made for playdough are great, but they are not the only option that exists. In fact, it is often more beneficial to use different tools that are toddler safe but not necessarily designed for playdough. Common kitchen tools are great options! Consider adding an egg slicer, garlic press, potato masher and more to the playdough table. Small plastic scissors are also a great addition to the playdough table to exercise the small muscle groups that toddlers are perfecting.
Preschoolers have more dexterity or small muscle control than toddlers and infants but can still engage in activities that promote these skills. Scissor practice is an especially important skill that preschoolers enjoy practicing. Give children a pair of child-safe scissors and encourage them to cut equal sized pieces of playdough. Another option is to use playdough mats and ask children to recreate the shapes, numbers, letters or designs that are on the mats.