playdough

Playdough is a Learning Superhero!

Playdough is a must-have, powerful learning tool! Not only is it fun, it’s a serious learning opportunity for your kids. Here’s some more good news: if you sit down and squish and pound and make a worm or two with a batch of playdough alongside your preschooler or toddler, the learning – and fun – goes a lot further.

Playdough Imagination

Creativity and imagination are on full display when playdough is involved. Kids seem to gravitate toward making “food” with playdough, so you’ll see lots of cookies with tiny rolled bits of playdough for chocolate chips and cakes with long strips for birthday candles made from playdough. Kids become bakers, chefs, or even a demonstration teacher explaining how to make the perfect pizza. Long, rolled-out playdough will, for sure, become worms and balls of playdough a snowman. Playdough is perfect for being creative when it becomes something else. Playdough is perfect for imagination when kids become someone else.

Talk, Talk and Talk Some More!

Use language-rich description words with action as you’re creating next to your preschooler or toddler. Smoosh, flatten, chop, slice, sticky, smooth – you’re using words to describe senses here, and young children learn through hands-on experiences using their senses. How about creating the same thing twice – one big cookie and one small cookie.  Here kids are learning opposites vocabulary with a visual. The more words toddlers and preschoolers have tucked away in a vocabulary bank, they better readers they will become.

Social-Emotional Learning and Playdough

When you sit down with your kids and create with playdough, there’s communication involved. When you give praise for what they’ve accomplished, kids feel like they’re capable of creating things that are worthwhile and amazing. Ask your toddler or preschooler, “Tell me how you made that!” They’ll use words and actions to describe to you how they made their creation. By explaining what they did, they’re using words in speech which reinforces what those words mean. And kids will be using logical thought to communicate a step-by-step process. Not sure what your toddler or preschooler has created? Don’t guess! Instead ask, “Tell me about your creation. What did you make?” Again, they’ll explain to you what they made – and you won’t make a wrong guess!

Playdough and Writing – A Must for Muscles

Playdough strengthens muscles in the fingers all the way up through the shoulders, which is just what kids need to hold a pencil correctly and write letters with strong, bold lines. This goes a long way, too, for scissor skills – its takes muscle power to cut out projects with multiple pieces or large shapes. When kids use cookie cutters, a plastic knife (if they’re ready for that), or a rolling pin, they’re practicing hand-eye coordination for writing later.

Math Tools and Playdough

Bring in some kitchen measuring cups and measuring spoons to use with playdough. Introduce the concept of whole, half, teaspoon and Tablespoon. You’re teaching sizes of kitchen tools – a life skill concept.
Use shape cookie cutters and a plastic knife to cut the shapes in half. Lots of vocabulary here! If you cut a square in half, what shape does it make? Now you’re teaching geometry!

Science Skills and Playdough

Your preschooler or toddler will be watching what you make – or what other kids make – and begin to think about the science concepts of observing and analyzing what they’re seeing. Maybe they can picture a different way to make something, or what they think would be an easier way to create what they see. They’re practicing trial and error and cause and effect science concepts here. 

math

The Importance of Preschool Math

Why is it important to teach math to preschoolers? Math concepts spill over into every area of preschool learning. Kids who have learned basic math concepts by the time they reach Kindergarten are better able to understand abstract thought using concrete, real-world concepts. Let’s look at specific areas of learning how math concepts help your preschooler. 

Get That Brain Working

Learning math concepts is a step-by-step process that develops logical and abstract thinking. Preschoolers apply both logical thought and abstract thinking when they’re learning how to write letters and numbers. That logical and abstract thinking also allows young kids to analyze what’s around them and ask questions to gain knowledge about the world.

Math in Play Connection

A benefit of learning step-by-step math process is teaching young children to think in an organized, systematic way. This way of thinking spills over into day-to-day dramatic play. Let’s say your preschooler is using their imagination to be a baker in their own bakery. Remembering back to helping you bake at home and knowing how buying and selling works from visiting a bakery or a grocery store, kids will use an organized, systematic approach to making their baked goods and selling them to you! Thinking in an organized, systematic way can help your preschooler to get their toys put away in the right places, too!

Math=Science

Where’s the math connection to science? One of the building blocks of science is classifying and grouping together objects that have different attributes. Preschoolers learn these concepts through sorting objects around them. Sorting objects is a building block of algebra.

Raise a Reader with Math

Math vocabulary and knowledge also helps with reading comprehension because kids are developing a language bank to call upon when they’re learning to read. Words will make sense when they’re reading, and kids can picture a mental image of what they’re reading.

A Math Bonus is Geometry

One last contribution of math – a building block of both geometry and physics is learning shapes. Could there be a future architect or artist in your family?