“Happy Birsday to youuuuu, happy birsday to you, HIP HIP HOORAY!!!” There a little voice in my house who has become obsessed with three things: playdough, making playdough birthday cakes and making playdough ice creams!

Playdough is such a fabulous (and cheap!!) learning resource that you can quickly whip up at home. It is also extremely versatile as you can add it to play or add scents or textures to it for a completely different experience.

As children engage in playdough, it actually offers in immense amount of learning and development, which children don’t realise. Amongst Early Childhood Educators, playdough is our ‘go-to’ experience to build fine motor skills in children but what does that mean parents?! According to the NCAC (2008) fine motor skills means small muscles. Fine motor skills involve the use of the small muscles in the fingers, hand and arm to manipulate, control and use tools and materials. Hand eye coordination, where a person uses their vision to control the movements and actions of their small muscles, is also an important component of fine motor skills development.”

In order for children to do things like hold a pencil firmly, do up buttons, open a lunchbox & push lego together, they need to have developed their fine motor skills.

Other ways playdough aids in development is engaging in a sensory experience, opening their imagination and using it as a prop in their play (for example a birthday cake!), language development as they speak about what they’re making, how they’ve made it or engage in conversations with peers or siblings.

Making the playdough itself is a massive numeracy learning experience: get children involved in measuring, pouring, mixing, (discussing the changes in the mixture as the ingredients are added is actually early chemistry!), most of all have fun with it.

My no-cook, easy to make recipe is below:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 table spoons cream of tartar
  • Food colouring (optional- add a tiny bit less water as this is also a ‘wet’ ingredient)
  • 1-2 cups of boiling water (add it slowly as to how much you might actually need).

The next time it’s too hot to go outside and or it’s a rainy day, the kids are going wild (at home or kindy!) and you’re this close to losing your sanity- try playdough!

For some children, it can also act as a calming tool.

L xx

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