The possibilities with play dough are endless! Kids of all ages love to play with play dough and there are so many opportunities for learning. Today I'm sharing a list of great play dough tools and resources that will be handy to have in the cupboard to make playing with play dough even more engaging and exciting for little ones.
If there is one resource for little kids I would recommend above all others it is play dough! Play dough is such a versatile resource and is easily set up with a whole host of everyday items to create brilliant learning opportunities. If you're looking for a super simple, no-cook recipe for making homemade play dough check out this post.
Play dough is especially good for building those all important fine motor skills. All that pushing, pulling, squeezing and rolling builds up strength in their little hands that are required for pencil control, scissor skills and other fine motor activities.
We love to add other items to our play dough too, like a baking tray, which naturally leads to open-ended imaginative play. Adding natural materials and every day items from around the house enables play dough to be used in so many creative ways. Here is a list of 10 of our favourite tools and resources to enhance your play dough play time!
1. Textured Rolling Pins
My kids love making different patterns and textures with these wooden rolling pins. They are the perfect size for little hands. The pack includes one plain and three textured rolling pins.
2. Silicone Cake Cases
Silicone cake cases make a simple addition to play dough for lots of lovely imaginative play. We love this rainbow set from the Amazon basics range. Jewels and beads are also fun for decorating play dough cakes. I often add a set of candles too for birthday role play.
3. Loose parts
The act of pushing and pulling items from play dough builds up hand strength and develops hand-eye co-ordination. Feathers are great for this as well as being perfect for creative play with play dough. There are lots of other every day items that can be added to play dough; pasta, matchsticks and buttons are some of our favourite. Natural materials such as twigs, shells and leaves also make for some wonderful creative play.
4. Play dough tools
For a comprehensive set of play dough tools this set from Alex Art is brilliant for cutting and shaping. Again this will build up strength in their little hands, as well encouraging them to explore and manipulate the play dough.
5. Googly Eyes
We love googly eyes here at Inspire My Play! They are just fantastic in enabling inanimate objects to seemingly come to life! This is why we like to always have some on hand to use alongside our play dough. They really encourage kids to get creative and have a go at making models of all sorts of animals, monsters and aliens.
6. Alphabet Stamps
Use a set of alphabet stamps with play dough to practice letter recognition, name printing and spelling out words. It is a great way to introduce letters in a playful context and a good place to start before moving on to pen and paper. Although this set from Melissa and Doug is specifically made for use with ink pads it can also be used with play dough. I particularly like it because it uses a child-friendly font and includes lower case and upper case letters. It also includes some punctuation marks which would be great to introduce in the school years.
7. Play dough Extruder
Load up this extruder tool with play dough and then push down on the lever to create long strips of playdough in 10 different shapes. A favourite in our household is the 'spaghetti' shape. Why not then add a dinner set into the mix to facilitate their pretend play and inspire some yummy meal creations!
8. Plastic Scissors
If you're looking to improve your child's scissor skills than play dough is the perfect place to start. Kid's actually find it easier to cut thicker materials that are sturdier than paper and soft dough also works brilliantly with plastic safety scissors. The best way to practise is to roll a snake of play dough and let them snip it up to their hearts content. To practise accurate cutting skills you could put indentations along the length of the snake and ask them to cut each one in turn.
9. Number Stamps
These number stamps provide another great learning opportunity when paired with play dough. Improve number recognition and use alongside buttons or gems in the play dough for 1:1 correspondence counting practice. Why not have fun making play dough birthday cakes stamped with a number and then add the correct number of candles to match.
10. Playdough cutters
Of course we mustn't forget to have some play dough cutters too! These are a lovely set of animal cutters from Wilton. I always look for cookie cutters sets as you tend to get a much better selection and more realistic looking options. There are so many different types these days so I would advise buying some based on your child's current interests.