Like so many families, we love Play-Doh over here. And whether it’s the real-deal, packed-in-yellow-containers-Play-Doh or happy homemade-on-the-stovetop-playdough, it doesn’t matter–my kids love it just the same.
They’ve even been known to love a total playdough flop.
But what I’ve found is that even playdough time can be an opportunity for some super-sneaky learning over here, so this Quick Trick shares one super-easy way we do just that.
- Fast-Finger Challenges with Play-Doh: Sure, Maddy, Owen, and Cora love the times when I lug out our super-cool Play-Doh sets. Who wouldn’t love squeezing out bright pink ice-cream or making a guy’s hair grow down to his feet in seconds? The ice-cream shoppe, hairdresser, and kitchen sets are awesome.
But I’m also a firm believer in giving kiddos the opportunity for free play, so that their growing brains can find ways of occupying time, figuring out what they can make with no limits or impositions, and having fun together at the table full o’ playdough.
So on occasions when my kids are rockin’ the playdough like free birds, I’ll give them a good 30 minutes or so to do whatever they want. But when their fingers are warmed up, when the colors have all become one big blended mess, I’ll throw out some Fast-Finger Challenges.
And. They. Love. Them.
Can you guess what this Fast-Finger Challenge was?
You got it! Healthy foods!!
So the Fast-Finger Challenge? Simple.
I come up with a topic–pets, numbers, clothes, junk food, fruit, sports–anything. And then my tiny sculptors sculpt.
They sculpt slowly at first, working hard on their very first item.
Then we talk about what they made (shhhhh–it’s always a surprise!) and then we brainstorm as many other things that will fit into that category, and they use their fast-fingers to quickly create whatever they can.
We put all the items in one central place–either a bowl if we ‘re doing fruit, or a box if we’re doing animals, or on the table if we’re doing numbers or letters.
And then we talk about what they made, oooh-ing and ahhhhh-ing and acting all impressed at each other’s sculpting skeels.
And this Fast-Finger Challenge? A little more tricky. . .
Though Cora is not as quick with her sculpting as Maddy and Owen, she’s getting there. And what she makes, she makes in bulk.
Her many, many lollipops are pictured to the right.
Some of our standard, go-to topics include:
- junk food
- seasons–this is tricky!
As long as we can explain why it fits in a topic, it’s good to go. And this is not high-stress; it’s fun. Cora and I are usually on a team, and sometimes even Maddy and Owen team up.
Owen works on his animal. . . a bird.
Maddy’s animal (gulp–I can’t remember what it is. . . ) eats one of Cora’s lollipops.
Norman! I made Norman, and he got us all smiling!!
Watching little fingers moving, brains thinking, and eyes dreaming as they create anything under the sun is incredible to me. It’s not only a forced slow-down for us all, but it’s a great opportunity to talk, sing, tell stories, and laugh together. It’s time to listen, practice good manners (and finding at least one nice thing to say about someone’s sculpture!), and work on that all-important skill of grouping and sorting.
If you’re not a fan of playdough (and many people are not–) no worries!
Try these similar ideas:
- Fast-Painting Challenge with watercolors
- Fast-Chalk Drawing Challenge with chalk on the sidewalk
- Fast-Dry-Erase Board Challenge on white boards with dry-erase markers (kids LOVE these!)
- Fast-Magnadoodle Message Challenge on Magnadoodles
- Fast-MarkerCrayon Challenge with markers or crayons on over-sized paper, drawing on the floor or on paper taped to the wall
- Fast-Water-Paint Challenge with water on paintbrushes on a sunny afternoon
It’s been a busy week over here; our tiny Cora turned four! So we celebrated with a very small–but very buzzy bee-special–birthday party. With birthday preparations along with the incredibly exciting work I’ve been doing on some online curriculum has kept this family busy as can be!
I’m looking forward to sharing what we’ve done in the next few days–thanks for reading and happy Fast-Finger Challenging!
Thanks for sharing. What a fun way to work on so many skills – fine motor, language & math – all at once.
Totally appreciate you writing, Donna-Lee!! Thank you–and if you guys decide to play, let me know!
So many great ideas in this post and lots of fun too!
Thanks for sharing!
Kerri–Huge thanks for taking the time to write and for your kind words. Totally appreciate them more than I can express–
this is great for older kids and for kids like mine who are working on fine motor skills – thanks!
thanks, Melissa!! I think so, too–better for bigger guys who are up for a challenge!!
Great tricks! Will try this with my little one too, thank you 🙂