Sensory play with playdough

Children are naturally curious. STEM at Scienceworks is learning by doing in context - so for example, encouraging curiosity and play-based learning that relates to real world scenarios.

We encourage open-ended activities to give children the opportunity to explore the properties of the playdough while having fun!

To make the dough you’ll need 2 cups plain flour, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1/2 cup salt, 2 tablespoons cream of tartar, 1 to 1.5 cups boiling water, gel food colouring and a few drops of glycerine (available from pharmacies).

  1. Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add food colouring to the boiling water- split wet and dry ingredients in half or thirds if you want to make different coloured batches.
  3. Add liquids into the dry ingredients.
  4. Stir continuously until it becomes a sticky, combined dough.
  5. Add the glycerine.
  6. Let cool then take it out of the bowl and knead it vigorously for a couple of minutes until all of the stickiness has gone.
  7. You can add a tiny bit of flour if it’s still too sticky after a few minutes. You can store it in an airtight container or ziplock bag. Playdough is wonderful for early years development, as it can lead to finger strengthening and improved hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

Setting challenges are a great way to encourage play-based learning!

  • Structure challenges with playdough! How tall can you build? Can you add dried penne, or sticks, to make the structure stand taller?
  • Shape challenges with playdough! Can you mould playdough into a circle, triangle or square? What about making three dimensional shapes such as spheres, pyramids or cubes? Can y ou make a creature that stands?
  • Prints and pattern challenges with playdough! What mystery toy animal or vehicle left that imprint? Can you imprint things from nature, such as leaves or sticks?

The ways we can explore with playdough are endless. Does the playdough roll down a ramp? Does it bounce? Can it be flattened out? Does it float, or sink? Let us know what you discover by using #Scienceworks #MuseumAtHome.

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