I enjoy teaching children and have a passion for helping parents of young children. I worked with parents and children for the past two years as an Early Intervention Specialist. The work I did as a home visitor was challenging because I was there to share my knowledge as a Child Development “Expert.”
I am also a mother of three children, so I knew to use caution when offering advice. Here is one of my favorite activities for several reasons. It’s easy, fun and open ended. When is the last time you’ve rolled play dough into a ball? Make three balls and you have a snowman. Roll the ball with the palm of your hand and presto, it becomes a snake. You get the point.
The first thing to ask your self is how many times in your month would you like to use this kind of activity with your child. This is your choice. Once a month, twice, etc. Consider the time you have, the other jobs you have to do, etc. Have a calendar nearby. Also, consider putting the play dough in a plastic bin which can be put up and away when not in use. This is not an activity to be left out on a shelf at the child’s reach. The reason for the bin and the other limits I’ll include are that any fun activity used with a very young child tends to become become messy, quite frustrating and eventually avoided!
So, try this:
1. Prior to playing with your child, Ask them if they’d like to play with play dough with you for ten minutes. (Key words: with you) Tell them that after they clean up, they will receive a sticker.
2. Play with your child for 10 minutes with some play dough. (ok, the time is up to you, having fun is what the goal is) Remember less is more for the young child. Keep it simple. One color, no extra stuff, just mold and shape with your hands. Poke it, roll it, squish it, pound it!
3.When your child loses interest (playing with it inappropriately, get distracted, etc), tell them “Ok, it’s now time to clean up.” Encourage your child to clean up by reminding him about the sticker he will get after the clean up is done. Have your child help clean up by placing the play dough in the canister. Once clean up is accomplished. Help your child put a sticker on the calendar square after playing and then you mark one more day on the calendar for the next play dough play time. (Or two or whatever you’re willing to take on!)
4. Put the play dough inside the plastic bin and say goodbye to it and don’t forget to praise your child for cleaning up.
5. Congratulate yourself for trying an enjoyable easy activity which will strengthen your bond with your child, strengthen fine motor skills and, cognitive skills.