Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Play Dough Is a Great Teaching Tool

It's Scott from Brick by Brick. I love to repurpose materials—use materials in ways different from their intended purpose.

Repurposed and reused materials = homemade teaching items. One of my favorite homemade items is play dough. We repurpose all those cooking ingredients into a great teaching resource.

Here's how we make it:
  • In one bowl, mix 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, and 2 teaspoons cream of tartar.
  • In another bowl (or just a measuring cup), mix 1 tablespoon cooking oil and 1 cup water. Add a few drops of food color if you want colored play dough. Otherwise you will have white play dough.
  • Combine dry mixture and wet mixture. Stir thoroughly.
  • Pour mixture into stick-resistant pan. Stir constantly over low heat until dough forms and pulls away from pan (about 3 minutes). I usually use an electric skillet set on about 200 degrees rather than a pan on the stove - but I've done that, too.
  • Knead dough until smooth. (Watch it! It will stay very warm.) Usually I knead on a piece of waxed paper or a plastic cutting board.
  • Cool the dough and store in airtight container or bag.

Sometimes we do this:
  • Make it with the kids. Take an electric skillet and ingredients to the classroom. They can mix and stir the ingredients and watch as you cook it.
  • Create surprise play dough. Make white play dough. Form small balls. Make a small hole in each ball and add a few drops of food color; pinch to seal the hole. Give dough to kids to knead and watch the dough turn from white to a color.

Here are some things we've done:
  • Use cookie cutters - we have letter cookie cutters and other shaped cutters.

  • Use lots of tools on it - it can be purchased tools or repurposed tools. Check out the kitchen utensils area for play dough use (frosting spreaders, plastic spatulas). Craft sticks make great play dough cutters or drawing tools.

  • Incorporate other items with it, like these gems. Add coffee stirrers, straws, shells, small plastic animals, and other small items for exploration.

  • Make words with it. We sometimes make snakes to create letters. We sometimes spell with our letter cookie cutters. Print a word you want to make and slide it under a clear placemat or in a page protector so kids can spell right on top of the word.

Homemade play dough may help teach but it also makes great memories. I remember my mother making play dough for us. We would use it for hours. What kinds of things do you do with play dough?

(I've put more play dough links on my blog.)

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