It's Friday and that means it's time for another Center installment! So far I've covered Block Center, Sensory Center, and Science Center. Today's post is devoted to the Playdough Center! I was actually conflicted, had several ideas for which center would be next, then I opened up my email and found that From the Pond's Graphic Club's daily clipart bundle was playdough! Well, obviously that was a sign, right?
I love playdough! I love the smell of it and the feel of it squishing between my fingers. To me there's just something soothing about working a ball of play dough. At every marriage retreat we've been to, there has always been play-dough cotnainers on the table for those adults who like to fidget. You know if the Army spends money on it, it must be good!
Here are some of the benefits of "playing" with playdough:
Fine Motor Development - working the dough also works muscles and tendons! The same little muscles that are needed to hold a pencil, are also worked by playing with playdough! I have had more success in improving handwriting skills by sending home a can of playdough than if I had sent home 100 handwriting work sheets!
Stress Relief - There's nothing like squishing a ball of dough or poking at it to relieve anger and tension. Sometimes young children need an acceptable outlet for their feelings. If a child is very angry, handing them some playdough might help them get some of those angry feelings out without having a meltdown.
Imagination - playdough can be anything! You can make it into animals, people, pies and cookies. Anything a child thinks of can be accomplished with playdough. I've heard students acting out stories with playdough creatures, collaborating together to expand on an idea or reenact a story we've read.
Communication Skills - children at playdough center are rarely quiet - if they're not enacting some type of imaginary play, then they are describing their creation!
Self-Esteem - nothing makes a child more proud than to be able to show off something they've made! It's even better if you take a picture of them with their creation! Even if you have no idea what it is, the child is so excited that someone has seen what he has made - it tells him that you value him enough to stop to look at him.
Math - Children can make numbers, count how many objects they have made, or compare and measure what they've made "My snake is longer than Eric's snake!" or "My tower is taller than Hailey's tower!". They can even form 2d and 3d shapes!
Literacy - children can make letters, spell out their name or cvc words or they can reenact stories they've read.
Okay, so now that we've reviewed the benefits of including a Playdough Center in your classroom, what do you need?
Obviously playdough! But, you can go with the ubiquitous yellow cans or make your own! I have to admit that I have not made my own playdough for school before. I've done some for my own kids, but hadn't incorporated it into my classroom yet! This is something I'm going to work on this year as the different textures and scents you can add to homemade playdough will enhance the learning! There a lot of playdough recipes out there, I've pinned a few to my Playdough board on Pinterest if you want to take a peak.
Once you have your dough, you'll want some accessories to go with it (whoa, Laura Numeroff moment there!) Forget buying those pricy sets at the toy store - raid your kitchen drawers and cabinets, pick up a few things at The Dollar Tree (you know you're going soon anyways!) and then take a nature walk. Presto! You have almost everything you need for making your Playdough Center an engaging activity for your students!
I've made some cute little color matching cards with these adorable playdough graphics and bundled them with the above page in a free file on Scribd (I'll put it on TPT after the site stops being wonky!) I hope this gives you some ideas for improving or establishing your Play dough Center!
If you'd like some free playdough mats, be sure to check out Making Learning Fun which has a ton of great resources too!
I'm off to get some beauty sleep before the Okie Blogger Meet-up tomorrow! If you're in the OKC area meet us at The Cheesecake Factory at 2pm tomorrow :)