Tried but True Playdough

How to Invite Children to Play

Playdough is one of those universal toys that most children enjoy using. If you scout the internet, one can find a plethora of articles, blog posts, and information about playdough. I want to contribute to this repertoire with ideas on how to create an invitation to play with playdough. Why? Because I love to play with playdough, enjoy making it with my children, and it is a great way to foster fine motor skills. Hence, I want to share with you my recipe for homemade playdough and tried but true suggestions on how to set up playdough playing for multiple-aged children.

I hope that by the end of this article you feel inspired and find this information useful. Please share a comment with us if you try our suggestions; we love to hear comments from our readers!

Inviting children to play, in my opinion, goes hand by hand with making playdough. Hence, at the end of this blog post I share a no-cook simple recipe. This recipe is non-toxic, non sticky, and will last for approximately two months. Please be aware that it may have to be adapted depending on the humidity level of your home.

Play Invitation Suggestions

I have divided the suggestions for inviting children to play in four age groups: pre-school, kindergarten to second grade, third to fifth grade, and older children.

Playing with homemade playdough

Setup in Preschool Settings

Preschool children need and thrive in environments that is somewhat structured and consistent. Hence, preparing most of the playdough ahead of time gives a sense of ownership yet sets the child for success. Gather a tray and premix all the dry ingredients, then premeasure the water and add food coloring (if desired). Your child will only have to pour the liquid and mix.

If you want to extend the playdough fun and use it to teach some science concepts, I prepared some playdough mats that would complement play ver well. Go to our FREE Resources page and checkout our Early Childhood Resources.

Your child will love the pouring and mixing and the end result will be lots of playing time. And, if you are feeling a little ambitious go ahead and prepare a whole playing playdough shelf or table!

Independent Setup for Young Children

A complain I often hear from families is that playdough making is messy. It sure can be, but it doesn’t have to be. One alternative that gives children independence is by pre-measuring the ingredients but keeping them in separate containers. Yes, nothing wrong with that! We can set up a tray with three containers: one with water, one with salt, and one with flour. Then the child simply dumps the water and the salt in the flour container and mixes until he/she gets playdough. That simple!

Include in a separate tray a handful of tools for your child to play with. This is what we use at home, although I change it from time to time.

Setup for Older Children

For older children, we can set up the materials and provide them the tools to measure the ingredients, a little more independence. I still like to create natural boundaries by placing all the ingredients in a wooden tray. That way, children know what they need and don’t have to scout the environment (house) trying to find what they need or depending on us to do it.

All you have to do is write the amounts in a piece of paper and give it to them. That simple, again!

Feel inspired to try this activity at home? I share the most simple recipe I know for making playdough at home. Please be aware that this recipe does not contain any preservative and with time it will have to be thrown away. If you want to preserve it for a longer time you can add 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar and it will delay the growth of bacteria that might be in the water.

Playdough for Even Older Children

Is your child past these suggestions? Is he/she not that interested in playing with playdough. Think twice! One “trick” I have used with my tween is to ask her to make playdough gifts for my friends with young children. I give her the recipe and instruct her to make an x number of presents. The result? She plays along the way and I have a safe, non-toxic gift for my friends.

Here is the recipe!

Enjoy! Don’t forget to subscribe for more fun activities!

Published by Reizelie Barreto, PhD

Reizelie is a former homeschool parent and a trained science and Montessori teacher with a passion for curriculum development. She loves learning and teaching and on her spare time she helps families create home environments that enrich a child's learning. Reizelie has a PhD in science education and has been working in the field of education for the last 19 years. She loves helping teachers, schools, and homeschooling families improve their science curriculum in ways that are authentic to scientists' work.

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