Welcome to The Mummylogues. A series dedicated to candid conversations, relatable tips and resources for navigating pregnancy and parenting. This edit features Dr. Alefia Poonawalla – Founder and Principal of Creative Kids – lending her insights on the benefits of play-dough in stimulating a spectrum of skills for play-based learning with toddlers. Over to her.
Play dough is one of my favourite activities, not least as there are so many different ways to play with play dough! It’s simple, non-messy, safe (see the recipe for homemade play dough below) and totally relaxing with immense learning opportunities involved. Here’s breaking down why play dough is so important and how to make the most of play-based learning with play dough.
1. Fine Motor Development
Children need to develop their fine motor muscles and need proper finger control before they can learn to write. During preschool years they develop these muscles through a variety of activities, chief among them play dough!
While your toddler plays with play dough, you can in parallel explain key concepts such as sizes – big and small, long and short etc.
You can also bring in story-time; The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carl is a particularly good reference-point, as kids can craft caterpillars, butterflies and fruits with the play dough, whilst also working on counting concepts.
Kids can let their imagination run wild and create so many interesting things with play dough. They learn to think about shapes and proportions while they work. I enjoy doing the story “What shall I make“ when we work with play dough.
4. Literacy and Numeracy
We can make alphabets and numbers with play dough even before kids have learnt to write them. We can count the number of balls we make, we can talk about sizes and do shape-sorting! I love to combine these activities with the math starter book “The Best Bugs Parade.”
5) Building Their Concentration
Building focus is something very important as usually kids cannot sit for more than 2 to 3 minutes for an activity. The more involved they get with what they are doing, the more they can stay focused.
6) Science Concepts
Play dough is a great tool for STEAM activities, as we can use it to make planets, constellations and many 3D structures too!
7) Best Therapy!
Play dough has great therapeutic value. It always has a positive experience, the very nature of the substance makes it calming and relaxing!
Homemade Play Dough
- 1 cup all-purpose flour/ maida
- ½ cup salt
- 2 tsp coconut oil/ cooking oil of choice
- food colour dissolved in half cup of water
- Mix everything together until combined into play dough!
About Alefia Poonawalla | Creative Kids
Located in Cuffee Parade, Mumbai, Creative Kids has provided a special start for thousands of children and their families since it was founded in 2001. The pre-school offers excellent high scope programs to accommodate different age groups all in large, bright and cheerful classrooms, fully equipped with age appropriate learning toys & materials. The hands-on programs at Creative Kids are driven by founder and program director Alefia Poonawalla, drawing on her background as a medical doctor and a child development specialist.