If you have a toddler at home, you’ll know how difficult it is to keep them busy all day, every day. Most activities don’t last long. And thinking about and searching for different things to do all the time is exhausting!
But don’t worry because we have the answer. And that is… Playdough.
It’s one of the rare things that will keep your toddler busy for hours.
Because there are so many ways to use and play with it. And so many learning and development opportunities that arise from it too! So you can rest easy knowing they’re having fun and learning!
Still not convinced? Keeping reading to find out more.
Including exactly how playdough helps children’s development. The pros and cons of making your own DIY playdough vs buying Play-Doh. How to introduce your toddler to playdough. And the different ways you can spice up activities to keep them interested.
Who Invented Playdough?
Before we dive into the benefits of playdough, let’s talk about when it was first made. This mouldable stuff was first invented over 70 years ago by Noah Mc Vicker. Its original purpose was to clean coal from wallpaper. But teachers started using it with kids in classrooms. So they decided to sell it as a kids toy in 1957.
Play Doh is still so popular all these years later. It even has a national day to celebrate it!
Why Is Playdough Good For Toddlers?
Not only is playdough fun, but it also helps kids learning in so many ways. It’s particularly beneficial for toddlers because it improves important areas of their development. Physical, communication and language and social and emotional development.
Playdough Develops Fine Motor Skills (Physical Development)
A child with good fine motor skills is able to complete everyday tasks with ease. Things like zipping up their coat and being able to hold a pencil the correct way. Believe it or not, it takes a lot of work to strengthen the hand muscles required for these tasks. So kids need to practise.
This is where playdough helps.
All the patting, prodding, rolling, stretching and manipulating builds those muscles.
It’s Therapeutic (Emotional Development)
Using playdough is a therapeutic play activity for kids of all ages. All that kneading, folding and stretching is a great way to release built-up anger. It helps them to relieve stress and work through emotions in a positive way.
If you’ve ever made pizza dough from scratch I know you’ll be able to relate!
Using Playdough Gets Them Talking and Sharing (Communication and Social)
Kids often get lost in their world of make-believe when using playdough. They’ll share their ideas and thoughts as they draw you (and others) into their play.
All this will help their communication skills which are vital. Because the world is a lot more frustrating for them when they’re not able to communicate their wants and needs.
You Can Use It to Teach Early Learning Concepts
Children learn more when they’re having fun which is why it’s a fantastic resource to use. Mats, games and activities can help them understand early learning concepts such as colours and shapes. And they’ll remember it because they had fun.
And last but not least, the important benefit of using playdough with your toddler. Which is…
It’s an Easy Way to Spend Time Together (Social and Emotional Development)
Using playdough together is an easy way to connect and spend some quality time together. Connection is everything to a toddler. A good connection makes them feel loved. It also increases their self-esteem because they know that they matter and that they’re worthy of your time.
And there’s nothing more important than that!
Now you know the benefits. Let’s look at the differences between buying Play Doh or making your own. And if it really matters!
Play Doh or Playdough – Which One Is Best?
You’ve probably seen that most fun activities on Pinterest involve using homemade playdough. But there are pros and cons to making your own or buying it.
So we’ve put together a list to help you decide which one is best for your toddler – Play Doh or Playdough.
Let’s start with shop bought Play Doh.
It’s more convenient to buy ready-made play Doh. Especially if you’re short on time. You’ll also skip the messy part of making it!
There are over 50 vibrant colours to choose from. And you can mix two colours together to make your own! This works especially well with primary colours like red and yellow, for example.
The recommended age for Play Doh is 2+ years old. Which means that curious, younger toddlers will miss out on playing with it.
Individual cans of Play-Doh are relatively cheap – especially if you buy them in multi-packs. The only downside is that you don’t get a lot in a can. Which is not ideal if you have a budding creator on your hands.
Let’s face it, Play-Doh has a unique smell. Some people love it. Some hate it. I personally don’t like the smell which is why I’ve added it to this section.
Now let’s look at the pros and cons of homemade dough.
You’ve probably already got all the ingredients to make your own. Even if you don’t, they’re cheap to buy. All that’s needed is flour, salt and water.
Using these 3 ingredients means it’s safe for toddlers to taste test. So you can use it with younger toddlers. Having said this, I wouldn’t recommend letting them gobble a whole batch of it. This is because of the salt content!
So remind them each time they taste test it, that’s it’s only for playing with.
Most homemade playdough recipes make enough for at least two kids. Unlike a can of Play-Doh.
Making your own means you can customise it. You can add different scents, make different colours and create textured playdough.
Making your own can be time-consuming. Especially if you haven’t done it before. Plus if you’re a messy cook like me, you’ll have lots of clearing up to do once you’ve made it.
Also bear in mind that following the wrong recipes could lead to unusable playdough. There’s nothing worse than wasted ingredients and an unhappy, playdough-less child!
Hopefully, our pros and cons list of Play-Doh or playdough have helped you decide which one’s best for your little one.
Either way, both versions are non-toxic. And your kids will love playing with the stuff regardless of whether you’ve bought or made it.
Still can’t decide? If you have the time and energy, go ahead and make your own. It’ll last for ages. If you don’t have the time? Buy a pack instead.
How Can I Introduce My Toddler to Playdough?
If you haven’t introduced your toddler to playdough yet, now’s the time. Here are some useful tips to get you started.
1. Give them a small amount of Play-Doh or playdough first.
2. Grab some playdough for yourself. Sit alongside them and some talk to them about it.
3. Model exploring the dough and think out loud as you do it. For instance, you could say, I wonder what will happen when I poke it? And then go ahead and do it.
Kids are curious and they’ll soon want to join in! Squishing, banging, rolling and stretching are also good ones to try.
4. It may take a while for them to get used to the texture. So don’t worry if they’re not interested at first. But make sure you keep trying every now and then.
My 18 month old now loves playdough but it’s taken a few months!
5. Give them dough to play with whenever the opportunity arises. Like if you’re making pizza dough or gingerbread or cookies.
Other Activities and Ways You Can Use Playdough
Once you’ve introduced your toddler to playdough, move onto other activities. This will keep them interested and further their learning.
Here are some ways you can do this.
Use Tools, Cutters and Moulds
Fire up your little one’s imagination. And help them take their creations to the next level with Play Doh tools, cutters and moulds. They’re also the perfect way to improve their hand-eye coordination.
Create Your Own Invitations to Play / Playdough Kits
Invitations to play involve adding different things to decorate the playdough with. To make one yourself, first, think of a theme. Then find other things to go with it. Finally, present it in a way that looks inviting.
Playdough kits are also an awesome way to keep kids busy when you’re travelling.
Use Playdough Mats
Playdough mats help to contain the mess a little. Which is always a bonus. There are also lots of ones to choose from. Some have images for kids to decorate or add their own designs to. Whereas, others can help teach them early learning concepts.
Play Doh Toys
Play-Doh toys are ideal for role play games. They also inspire little ones to make lots of unique creations.
Playdough is open-ended which means that you can make up your own games to play with it. Any game will help kids work on taking turns and learning about winning and losing.
Play Doh or playdough is an awesome go-to activity that’ll keep your little ones busy and learning for hours on end. And using playdough mats, toys and games are an easy way to keep it fun and fresh.
The possibilities are endless!