One of our favorite toys to play with is Playdoh. It's amazed me lately how many parents don't like Playdoh or even go as far as to not allow Playdoh in their houses! One thing that we need to keep in mind is that most kids don't know how to play with Playdoh. We need to show them how to make things.
One of Oli's favorite characters is Qiao Hu, so, we decided to make one. We started with a circle for his head. We used a bottle to roll the Playdoh out nice and thin. I showed Oli how to use a cup to cut out a circle. Ever since I showed him how to cut out circles using cups and other containers, he's been making so many circles on his own.
Next, we spread out the white Playdoh nice and thin and then found a smaller container to make a smaller circle. We carried around the original cup and compared the size of the circles until we found a container that would make a circle just the right size. We laid that one over to make his mouth.
Next we worked on making little circles. We started with the ears and rolled 2 small white balls in our finger tips. This is great for developing fine motor skills, especially if you show your kids to roll the balls between their pointer finger and thumb. This helps develop the pincer grip needed for writing. After we had the balls made, we squished them to change them from balls to circles. We had a little talk about how balls and circles are similar, yet different. Then, we did the same thing for the eyes. When we made the white circles for the eyes, we had to make sure that our white part was smaller than the black part. The best way to do this is to roll the black balls first and then the white balls. Compare the sizes and make sure the white balls are smaller than the black balls. Roll both of these into balls before you squish them into circles.
The stripes were next. Even though I put them on, Oliver helped by rolling out long black pipes with the Playdoh and helping me measure and cut them into equal lengths. We made thick rolls for his stripes and very thin rolls for his mouth and whiskers. I made the clothing, but he helped me flatten the Playdoh and I talked him through each of the pieces that I was cutting and how I was cutting them. We followed a picture out of one of his books so he would understand each of the parts we were making.
Oliver made the tail all on his own! We had thicker piles of black and orange Playdoh. He dug his straw into the orange and it filled up just a little bit of the straw. Then he did the same thing with the black Playdoh, and back and forth between the orange and the black playdoh he went until the straw was filled. Then, we pinched the straw and squeezed the Playdoh out and that's how we made the tail.
Oliver was so happy that he could actually make something like this. Although it was something that I did most of the detailed work on, he understood the process that went into making it.
You can make anything you want. Here are the major skills that we worked on in this project.
Flattening Playdoh - Use a rolling pin or a bottle to flatten the Playdoh. Focus on starting in the middle and pushing the Playdoh out to flatten it.
Cutting circles using tools - Show your kids how different cups and lids are great for cutting out circles once the playdoh is flattened.
Making balls - Roll the balls between your pointer finger and thumb to build up fine motor skills.
Making rolls - Using the same principles that you use to flatten the Playdoh. Start in the middle and roll it under your pointer finger to the outside.
Mixed color straws - Fill a straw with Playdoh by pushing it in. Alternate colors for stripes. You can also use multiple colors and do some pattern work. Use a clear straw so your kids can see what is happening as they are doing it.
There are many techniques that can be used to make Playdoh. Demonstrate them for your kids and show them how to do it, but don't be discouraged if they don't do it the right way, right away. Let them do it how it seems natural to them and let them have fun with it. The more your kids see you doing it the correct way, the sooner they will adjust their technique to follow yours.