Using sensory dough to promote learning and play at home is easier than you might think. And you probably already have everything you need to get started.
Sarah Gough from Richland Library's Programs & Partnerships Department walks us through some simple activities with sensory dough that promote learning and play.
Sensory dough is a wonderful open-ended play material that can keep your children occupied creatively (and independently!) when you need to get some work done. Plus, you probably have everything you need in your pantry to make it at home (see my recipe, here).
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) considers sensory dough “a powerful way to support your child’s learning,” by encouraging the development of their social, language and literacy, science, math, and physical skills – all while they’re just having fun!
There are also lots of ways to use sensory dough for more intentional skill building during your homeschool time.
Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
Roll dough into “snakes” and practice cutting through it with scissors
Make a base of dough on the table and put several straws, skewers, pipe cleaners, or thin sticks into it, standing up. Thread circular cereal or tube-shaped pasta onto the straws
Shape dough into letters, numbers, and sight words
Connect small balls of dough with popsicle sticks or toothpicks to create shapes (2D or 3D)
Practice subtraction by smashing the number of play dough balls an equation says to take away (for example, in the equation 5-3=, start with five balls of dough and have your child smash three of them. How many are left?)
Create a scene using the dough, toys, household objects, and/or items from nature. Then create and tell a story about your small world scene
This article by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) gives suggestions about simple ways to encourage play dough play using everyday objects, and breaks down the important learning that is taking place while children naturally engage with the material.
Benefits of Playing with Play Dough
This blog post by The Imagination Tree discusses the many benefits of play dough play as well as ways to encourage imagination and storytelling by incorporating loose parts such as dried pasta, buttons, pebbles, feathers, small toys and cups, etc.