## Learning About Shapes with Play Dough

Play Dough is such a fun learning tool to play with and explore new concepts.
With Miss 2 learning about shapes at the moment, I thought it would be fun for her to play and discover shapes using play dough.  The ideas and possibilities are endless!
I absolutely love the way this invitation to play with play dough and shapes created so many opportunities to learn and play creatively, imaginatively, mathematically, to construct, problem solve, explore, discover and try new things, all while having fun!!
What you will need?

You will need play dough, shape cookie cutters, rolling pins and shape buttons.  I set these items out onto a tray for my kids to create, explore and discover freely with.
The play dough I used for this activity is a Zesty Lemon Scented Play Dough, you can find the recipe {HERE}

Let’s Play

One way my girls utilised the materials was by creating an imaginative play cookie shop.  They used the shape cutters, shape buttons and play dough and turned them into shape cookies and had lots of fun decorating them.  My girls were presenting them onto the tray for selling in their cookie shop.  You can see some ordering, classifying and matching of colours and shapes in the photos.

Let’s Learn

There was so much creativity and learning happening as my girls explored and tried new things.
The cut out play dough shapes created a bit of a puzzle which was matched with a play dough button.  Miss 2 placed play dough shapes together to make a 2D house shape and also snowman.
As my girls were playing along they stumbled upon a problem where we had a diamond shape cookie cutter but did not have a diamond shape button to match.  It was discovered that by putting two triangles together makes a diamond shape.

We left our play dough tools out for about a week and my kids returned to play with the shape cutters, play dough and shape buttons regularly.  Every time they played they created and discovered new ways of utilising the materials.  Here Miss 5 created a 3-D house using the 2-D shapes.  She discovered that putting other shapes together can support, construct and make new shapes.  Miss 5 also later constructed a 3D rocket ship using the cut out play dough shapes.

Learning Opportunities
• Creativity and imaginative play
• Fine Motor Development
• Hand-Eye Coordination and Control
• Concentration
• Spatial awareness – experimenting and exploring with shape and space
• Language development – shape names and communication
• Classifying, matching and sorting
• Problem solving and self-correcting
• Shape recognition
This post is part of our Play Dough Toolbox, click on the links to find out more…..
What is a Play Dough Toolbox?
Importance of Playing with Play Dough
More Play Dough Activity Ideas
More Shapes Activities

## Apple Tree Play Dough Maths

Apple Tree Play Dough Maths is a fun activity for encouraging early and basic maths skills using Apple Scented Play Dough and a set of dice.  There are a number of ways these materials can be adapted for different age groups and abilities in areas of counting, subitising, numbers and basic addition and subtraction sums.

What you will need?

You will need Apple Scented Dough (click here for simple recipe), set of dice, and the Printable Apple Tree Play Dough Mat.
You can download and print your own Apple Tree Play Dough Mat here: Printable Tree for Apple Dough Maths
After printing the Printable Tree, you can either paint or colour it with crayons and when it is dry laminate or contact it to help make it last longer.
Let’s Learn

The apple scented play dough is used to create play dough apples which are placed on the tree depending on the maths activity that is being done.
The Apple Tree Play Dough Maths can be used in a number of ways:
1. Subitising – rolling one or two dice and creating that number with play dough apples on the tree.  Move the play dough apples around the tree to find different ways of presenting this number.
2. Counting – rolling one or two dice and counting the number thrown, then re-creating this number again but this time as apples on the play dough tree mat.  Children will count and re-count to make sure they have the correct number of apples as thrown on the dice.
3. Addition – this can be done on one or two play dough tree mats.  Throw one dice and create this number of play dough apples on the tree.  Then roll the dice again and ‘add’ how many more apples to the tree.  How many apples are in the tree?
4. Subtraction – This is done a little different to the addition as it only uses 1 dice.  Place 6 play dough apples on the tree and then throw one dice.  Remove the number of play dough apples from the tree that is shown on the dice.  How many play dough apples are left on the tree?  For older children this can be done starting with 12 play dough apples on the tree and then subtracting the amounts shown on the two dice.
Let’s Play

While Miss 5 was practicing her addition and subtraction, Miss 2 practiced making play dough apples by manipulating the play dough into balls using the palms of her hands and fingers.  This was a little tricky for her to start with but with a little practice, she began to develop this skill.  We then moved onto counting and making the numbers that were rolled on the dice.

This post is part of our Play Dough Toolbox, click on the links to find out more…..
What is a Play Dough Toolbox?
Importance of Playing with Play Dough
More Play Dough Activity Ideas
More Subitising Activities

## Minty Candy Cane Scented Play Dough Ornaments

Making Play Dough Christmas Ornaments with Minty Candy Cane Scented Play Dough is an open-ended opportunity to play in an unstructured way, allowing children to explore their creativity and imagine.
The Minty Candy Cane Scented Play Dough heightens the sensory experience and was used to make the play dough ornaments which were then decorated with metallic confetti and sequins.
So simple and so much fun…..and a whole lot of learning and skill building happening too.

A little while back I shared with you an activity we did making Salt Dough Christmas Decorations (Ornaments) for the Christmas tree.  Making Christmas Play Dough Ornaments was inspired by this activity and provided an opportunity for my kids to practice and role play the skills and ideas that they learnt from making the salt dough and their salt dough Christmas ornaments.

What you will need?

You will need Minty Candy Cane Scented Play Dough, Christmas Cookie Cutters and Metallic Confetti and Sequins.  I also added three Candy Cane Ornaments from the Christmas tree to add to the creativity.
Click here to view the Minty Candy Cane Scented Play Dough Recipe

Let’s Play

Role Play: Making Christmas Play Dough Ornaments was very much like making our Salt Dough Ornaments.  It involved kneading the play dough, rolling it out flat and pressing the Christmas cookie cutters into the dough.  Using the candy cane ornament my girls made small holes to imitate the ones we made with a straw on our Salt Dough Ornaments.

Decorating the Play Dough Ornaments was so much fun and I absolutely loved watching the creativity and ideas they came up with.  They came up with so many different patterns with shapes and patterns with colours filling up the space and area provided.

Benefits of Playing with Play Dough
• Self-expression
• Imagination and creativity
• Building and strengthening fine motor skills
• Eye and hand coordination
• Problem solving – finding solutions to overcome challenges
• Social interactions
• Spatial awareness
More Play Dough Play Ideas
More Christmas Activities and Ideas

## Information about Our Play Dough Toolbox

WHAT IS PLAY DOUGH TOOLBOX?
A Play Dough Toolbox is a box filled with play dough props and materials that are stored together in a ‘toolbox’ for making setting up and packing away play dough activities with kids easier with little fuss.
The Play Dough Toolbox is also a place to come on learning4kids to find a range of play dough play ideas and activities so you no longer have to worry about creating new and fresh ideas for playing with play dough.  It is all done for you in the one spot!
It aims to keep it simple, easy to set up, fun and to promote learning and development through hands-on playing!
I hope to inspire more play dough play in the home by providing ideas, tips and fun activities with play dough because it is provides so much opportunity for learning and development!

WHY PLAY DOUGH TOOLBOX?
With busy lives and families always on the go, the play dough toolbox is a quick reference for simple play ideas for playing with play dough because play dough is a wonderful sensory learning tool with endless opportunities for development of key skills and learning.

WHAT TO PUT INTO YOUR PLAY DOUGH TOOLBOX?

Having a play dough toolbox filled with a number of play dough props on hand a great way for easy set-up of play dough activities.  It avoids all the fussing about when trying to organise play dough activities with the kids.  It also means that you are more likely to do more play dough activities if you have the right materials on hand ready to go!
We are continually adding to our play dough toolbox but here is a start for developing your own play dough toolbox.

Play dough, 1 or 2 colours (Recipe here), rolling pins, play dough scissors (kiddy safe), patty pans, alphabet, number and animal cookie cutters, plastic forks, slastic knives, spastic spoons, cardboard tubes, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, beads, googly eyes, birthday candles, straws, dry pasta, buttons, feathers, shells, coloured craft match sticks, bottle tops, cotton tips and play dough roller cutter.
Tip: Use zip lock bags to keep all the different materials together. You could alternatively use a plastic tub to store all the play dough items in preparation for play dough activities.

IMPORTANCE OF PLAYING WITH PLAY DOUGH

Play dough provides many wonderful learning opportunities but is very well known for building fine motor skills. Play dough is a great tool to build and develop strength and control in the hands, fingers and wrists. This strength and control supports the use of writing tools, scissors and the ability to throw and catch objects.
Playing with play dough and the repetitive moulding and manipulating really gives fine motor muscles a real work out!!

IT ALSO PROVIDES OPPORTUNITIES FOR:
• Self-expression
• Imagination and creativity
• Building and strengthening fine motor skills
• Eye and hand coordination
• Problem solving
• Social interactions and communication
• Spatial awareness and shape – 2D and 3D shapes
• Language development

## Jelly Play Dough Critters

Recently I shared a recipe for Jelly Play Dough; this is what we did with it!  We created some funny Jelly Play Dough Critters, frogs, owls, funny faces, monsters and a little kitten.  The ideas and the imagination are endless.
Jelly play dough is such a pliable and soft feeling play dough, scented like a tropical fruit drink, it added to the sensory experience of making our play dough critters.

What you will need?

I set up our activity table with an invitation to play with jelly play dough (find recipe here), googly eyes and coloured pipe cleaners.

The greatest thing about setting up an unstructured invitation to play is that it is open to create freely with no restrictions, or right or wrong way of doing things.  It caters for all age groups and abilities too.  Miss 2’s initial reaction to this activity was to stick and pock the eyes and pipe cleaners into the jelly play dough.

Peer learning, Miss 5 started creating faces and Miss 2 followed behind and copied, creating some hair for her jelly play dough faces.

Miss 5 creating a Jelly Play dough Animal by rolling the play dough into a long body shape and sticking legs into the sides.

Learning benefits of playing with play dough:
• Self-expression
• Imagination and creativity
• Building and strengthening fine motor skills
• Eye and hand coordination
• Problem solving – using play dough to join parts together
• Social interactions
• Spatial awareness and shape – 2D and 3D shapes