Creative ways to play with OkoNorm Playdough: 6 ways to play
Hello! I’m Amy, Mum to Tilly who is three years old and two older children aged 11 and 14. We are massive playdough fans, it usually comes out at least once a day in our house. Primarily, Tilly plays with it but if her big brothers are around they always love to join in too. Playdough really is one of those things that has no age limit! In fact it’s usually the thing that I get out when we all need a calm activity to do together. We use the OkoNorm playdough for all sorts of things – sensory play, to strengthen and develop her fingers ready for writing, as a learning resource and as part of bookish play.
It’s worth noting that OkoNorm playdough can be rehydrated if it goes a bit dry and hard, just wrap it in a damp cloth for an hour or so and it will be good as new! It is a brilliant resource and one that I can very easily think of six ways to play with! Here are some of our favourite ways to play with it.
This is one of our favourite ways to play with playdough and can be as simple or as complicated as you like. Draw a shape, animal, character, scene, anything you can think of really on a piece of cardboard (an old Babipur box is perfect for this!) You can cut out what you’ve drawn or leave it on the cardboard. Then it’s as simple as bringing it to life by covering it with playdough. This can be a lovely opportunity to talk about colours. One of Tilly’s favourite things is when I draw around Lanka Kade animals and she has to find the correct colour of playdough to make the animal. Lanka Kade animals are bright and simply patterned which makes them ideal for copying with playdough. If you haven’t played with playdough like this before, you may need to model how to put the playdough onto the cardboard pictures to your child first. You could also add little sensory extras like dried petals, coloured dried chickpeas or rice to the creation. A top tip is to encourage your child to scatter and not press these into the playdough. If scattered on, most can just be brushed off when you’re done. If pressed in, they either need picking out or you could just leave them in and have a fun, textured ball of playdough to explore next time.
Learning shapes and colours for children
Playdough is perfect for making imprints in. One of our favourite things to do is to use Reel Wood letters with it. Flatten out a piece of playdough and firmly press a letter in. This is a brilliant way to learn through play because even if your child is too young to say the letter themselves you can say it, talk about the sound that the letter makes and introduce letters and sounds at a really young age. The Reel Wood letters also make the perfect sized imprints for little fingers to trace over, helping them to learn letter formation and become familiar with the shape and patterns. This also works really well too with Grimm’s and Reel Wood shapes or infact with all sorts of toys!
Fun ways to learn the alphabet
Another fun way to develop familiarity and confidence with letters is to use playdough alongside The Coach House board. The letter grooves are perfect for tracing with little fingers or filling with beads or sensory materials. This can be extended further with playdough. Begin by rolling out a little collection of playdough ‘worms’ and then encourage your child to fit them inside the letters of the board. This is great activity for developing letter recognition and formation. After doing this a few times you may start to notice that your child becomes familiar with certain letters. This activity is how Tilly learnt the letter ‘T’!
Activities to learn letters
Playdough is brilliant for child development. Just give your child a ball of playdough and let them explore it. While they are poking, squishing and rolling it they will be gaining strength and developing the small muscles in their hands. These small muscles are what will be used to enable your child to hold a pencil correctly and form letters. Playdough play is brilliant at any age but is especially important at that prewriting stage. By playing with playdough, children are developing the all important strength and dexterity in their hands. It’s worth mentioning that playdough play is often used in primary schools to help children who need to improve their writing legibility, stamina and letter formation. This is something that could easily be done at home too. A few minutes of playing with playdough each day will really help to develop those important muscles.
open-ended play to develop motor skills
Playdough is a really handy resource to have for maths. Need some counters? Make them out of playdough! Playdough can be used for all sorts of maths activities – counters as visual representations alongside numbers, using different colours or sizes to explore patterns, as a concrete resource for addition and subtraction, to make shapes with… One quick and easy way to develop counting skills with playdough is to make a certain number of little balls and lay them out in front of your child. Encourage your child to say each number out loud as they count each ball. If your child isn’t keen, they could make balls for you and there will still be loads of lovely learning happening even if you are the one counting. To make it extra fun and to help them count each one, teach them to squash each ball as they count it!
STEM activities for children
We love to use playdough to bring books to life. Often we make characters or act out little scenes with it. It doesn’t have to look good, quite often I have one blob, Tilly has another blob and in her mind they are animals or people who can walk and talk and go on adventures! One of our current favourites is to make snails so I couldn’t write about playdough and not talk about them! They are really easy to make, just roll a chunky, finger length amount of playdough and place a shell on top of it. If you pinch the corners slightly on one end you can even give your snails tentacles (good old Google taught me this, I always thought they were antennae!) We love to do this activity while talking about the book The Snail and the Whale. We make our snails and then talk about where they might go on their adventure around the world. If you don’t have some shells to hand, you could use Grapat pieces for really colourful snails or even stones from the garden.
creative story sack ideas
Thanks to Amy (@tillystoys) for taking the time to round up some of the great ways to play with OkoNorm playdough!
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