Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fine Motor- Playdough

First off I think I'll share my favorite playdough recipe.  Actually, I'll share two.  The one I use the most is the cooked version.  But I use a no cook version every once in awhile so that the children to make it themselves and take it home.

Cooked Homemade Playdough
1 C. flour
1/2 C. salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 C. water
1 tsp. vegetable oil
food coloring (or I often use a packet of kool-aid.  Inexpensive, bold colors and a lovely smell.  :-))

Mix the flour, salt and cream of tartar.  Add the water, oil, and food coloring. Stir well.  Cook until the playdough rolls off the sides and into a ball while stirring.  Stir constantly or it will burn!  Knead the dough until it comes soft and smooth.  Store in zipped bag or container with a lid that seals.

No Cook Dough
2 C. flour
1 C. salt
food coloring (or kool-aid)
2 Tbs. vegetable oil (optional)- leave out if you wish for your child's work to harden. 

Mix all together.  Encourage them to explore with how much water/flour they need.  Encourage them to kneed until smooth. 
Before the children use the tools available for "free exploration" with playdough (which should be the majority of the time spent with the playdough) I often have a very quick task for them to do to reinforce a skill or concept.  Playdough, in general, is awesome for fine motor but here are some specific tasks that you can have your child do.
*A "favorite" for both the children and I is to let them mix two primary colors of playdough together.  I tend to do this with purchased playdough vs. homemade and provide them two small balls of playdough and encourage them to mix them together. 
*A variation of the above activity it to make playdough without coloring...then encourage your child to roll it into a big ball.  Then have them poke their finger into the center to make an indentation.  Then put a few drops of food coloring into the center and squish shut.  Then encourage them to manipulate the playdough until the color is through the ball.  It makes a really neat streaked effect at the beginning that all my students have enjoyed!  You can even use two primary colors again if you wish to reinforce color mixing.
*Encourage your child to pinch off small balls and roll into "peas".  They love it when I do this with green playdough and have a bowl or plate handy for their peas.
*Before giving the playdough to your child, place confetti (shapes, letters, numbers) inside of the playdough.  Encourage the children to find all the confetti (and sort if you want to go the extra step).
*Encourage your child to roll a ball of playdough into a snake, then provide craft sticks, straws, or toothpicks and encourage them to make a fence.  If you have a plastic dog, this adds nicely to the activity because they are then making a fence for their dog.
*Roll dough into a circle, use a rolling pin (you can purchase plastic ones if you desire) to flatten into a "pizza" on a plate or pan.  Then encourage them to slice the pizza with a plastic knife or pizza wheel.
*Encourage your child to roll a ball of playdough into a snake and use a pair of scissors to snip to playdough into pieces.  They enjoy putting this into bowls.
*Encourage them to press playdough flat and use circle (or other shape) cookie cutters to make cookies or pancakes.  Then use a pancake turner (or smaller utensil that can be used for flipping) and encourage them to "flip" them onto a pan.  They LOVE this!!!
*One activity that was done at a center where I worked and the children enjoyed was to provide a lot of white playdough and a bit of yellow playdough.  Then children added "butter" to their playdough and mashed their "potatoes" with a potato masher.  :-)
*You can make playdough mats.  For example I created an apple tree and the children made ball apples out of the playdough and put them on the upper and lower case A's.  You can make more generic mats such as creating a cherry pie and having the children roll playdough cherries and put them in the pie.  Or a pizza mat and encourage them to top the pizza with various playdough toppings.  You can have letter/number mats and encourage them to roll the playdough into snakes to make the letters or numbers.  I create my mats in a print shop program and print on cardstock then laminate for durability.

Really the list is endless what you can do with playdough...just use your imagination!    

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