In my 10 years as a Speech Pathologist, I haven’t worked with many children who didn’t love playing with Playdough. In my professional practice and at home as a mom, it’s one of my “go-to” activities. It’s not electronic, gives kids sensory input they need (it seems to calm even the busiest busy-bodies), and gives them the opportunity to be creative (seriously, I’m always amazed at what the things they come up with to make!). Also, there are SO many speech and language concepts you can work on with a child through using Playdough!
Making the Dough
When we have a little extra time, I like to make my own Play Dough with my daughter Olivia. It’s an activity in itself! We talk about what the ingredients are and where to find them in the kitchen. We use a lot of location words like “out” as we pour the flour into the measuring cups and “in” as she dumps it in the bowl. I follow a general recipe using mostly ingredients we typically have in the house (the Cream of Tartar is the one we usually have to pick up ahead of time). But most times we have to play around with adding more or less of the ingredients. It becomes a bit of a science experiment and SO much fun for her. I use a lot of describing words like “sticky”, “gooey”, “soft”, and of course “messy”! Of course you can also use store bought Play-Doh. I like the packs of smaller containers because they usually have more color options! This Sparkle Play-Doh is a favorite.
Playing with a Purpose
I always grab my own container and play side by side with the child. This way, you can model different actions so the child sees everything that’s possible to do with Playdough! I’ll also narrate out loud what I am doing – this encourages them to talk more as they do the same. Action words are great to talk about. I will say things like, “I’m rolling mine to make a snake” or before I cut out a shape, “I’m pushing mine flat like a pancake”.
Favorite Play-Doh Products
I absolutely love this big container of Play Doh shape cutters. I use it to teach vocabulary words like animal names, food names, and colors.
Whether you use Playdough tools, your own cookie cutters, or just play with the Playdough by itself, this is an amazing activity to encourage pretend play skills. Kids will create anything they think of from a snowman to a castle to a birthday cake!
Amy Yacoub, MS, CCC-SLP | Speech Pathologist
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