We know there are many benefits of using playdough in our early years settings. I wanted to create an invitation using items from our kitchen – nothing explicitly purchased for the play (let’s say open-ended materials). Educators, let’s not be afraid to set up invitations for children – even if you operate a play-based or Reggio-inspired school. CReAtiVeLY children can use invitations without limits. See how this invitation unfolds, and watch the video at the end to hear the children at
Items used for this play
- Large Picture Frame – purchased for $1.99 from Goodwill
- Cardboard – recycled from a package
- Garlic bags – I use lots of garlic, even for my nightly teas (so I hoard the bags)
- Lime and mandarin mesh bags.
- Food pouch tops – a mixed daycare like mine or a center that caters to infants may have these pouches.
- Homemade Playdough – I got my recipe from here
- Tops from various food bottles/jars.
- Pizza mesh – the mesh that lines the restaurant-type pizzas.
With no goal but to create – see how the children used the materials provided.
I want to encourage educators to recycle items. Use recycled items for open-ended play – I believe it is essential for young children to play with things that are not store-bought. Growing up in Jamaica decades ago, my childhood was rooted in upcycling; I did NOT have toys. We had to make them. Nowadays, children have so many toys it takes away creativity and ingeniousness. For educators living somewhere on this earth where you don’t have access to many materials, I know you know how to recycle very well.
I hope that while the children grow up in a wealthy land, they’ll learn how to play, create and invent with LESS.
Using Playdough allows children to strengthen their fingers, improve eye and hand coordination, help their creativity, build vocabularies, aid in problem-solving, and many more skills – watch the video included.
These finger-strengthening skills – fine motor skills are needed for performing many life skills, not just writing. The children will pinch, squeeze, knead, poke, pat, thumb, mold, cut, roll, and tear the Playdough.
If you want to learn how to help children learn with Playdough and clay – check out Wunderled teaching with Sally Haughey – I obtained the Wunderled Certification in June of 2022 – that one-year soul-searching journey helped me thoughtfully carve out my teaching landscape. I now show up for the children – I see them – I honor them – I listen to them and value them.
In the image below, the girl said she made a mushroom – watch the video attached to see how she made this mushroom.
I asked the lad what this piece was, and he said – pizza. I wondered what the topping was, and he said – salad, mushrooms, and cicadas – the bug. Never underestimate children’s imagination – their world is limitless, and that is what makes them so intriguing. I want to escape to a child’s world, hoping I am not zapped as my daughter did me – I think she banished me to mars some years ago, yet I am present.
These recycled pieces make excellent molds.
If you operate a mixed-age home daycare as I do, this activity is perfect for all ages. Also, homemade Playdough is a bonus for those children who love to eat everything (especially the teething child). I included items that pass the choke test.
May your days be filled with intentional open-ended play, and may you help the children’s curiosity and creativity to grow. Until next time – xoxo Miss Sue – Suzette Salmon.
Watch the video to see how the children used Playdough.