I was watching AJ play with a batch of homemade playdough recently and noticed that she was fascinated with making impressions in the dough with a flat, plastic playdough tool. Over and over again she pressed the tool into dough pancakes, snakes and balls, any piece of playdough she could find. This form of poking or prodding is a natural first response for toddlers introduced to playdough.
When I made a fresh batch of playdough a few weeks later, I decided to use this observation to encourage her exploration further – by providing a range of tools and objects to make impressions with.
I included a plastic playdough ‘knife’, a large popstick (iced lolly stick), a plastic fork, a plastic serrated knife, a cookie cutter, a seashell, a large foam stamper and a rolling pin. I presented these tools as an invitation to play with a flat pancake of playdough and a long snake. I added a further pancake and a few large balls of dough as AJ’s play progressed.
AJ started by exploring with the stamper first. Interestingly, she turned the stamper over and made impressions with the knob instead of the foam shape. She made several imprints in the dough pancake and a number along the length of the playdough snake as well.
Next, AJ chose to explore with the popstick.
When I presented the second flat pancake of dough, AJ picked up the rolling pin and rolled it back and forward over the dough. She then turned it on its end and made lots of holes in the dough (shown below).
The play and exploration continued in this manner for some time, and on and off during the course of the rest of the afternoon. She even turned that foam stamper over at one stage! I love watching her play and I swear you can almost see the brain connections forming when little ones are engaged in this form of exploration.
Does your toddler like to play with playdough?