You don’t need to make anything elaborate to enjoy playing with playdough. I’ve seen lots of great playdough creations with a simple Google search, but I’m mostly thinking about the under 3-year-old crowd and Pinterest worthy creations may not yet be the goal here. Using playdough to get little ones talking CAN be a worthy goal! Make your own or buy it. Just make sure they don’t eat it – ha!
A good accessory kit for toddlers can include basics like plastic scissors or plastic knives, a roller, a few shapes for cutouts, and something to squeeze the playdough through. Look around your kitchen to find straws (to make towers or trees for a forest), dry pasta like penne or the circle ones to make wheels), and assorted colored beans for hiding or decorating. In the straw/pasta activity (pictured), add silly sounds each time the pasta falls down the straw. Assign each straw a vowel and make that sound aaaaaall the way down. Count the noodles, name each “tower”, take turns “my turn” and “your turn”, and create lots of opportunities for him to request “help me” when the straw falls over or “more noodles” because you are keeping them out of reach.
In general, pair your words with the actions: “squeeze” or “poke” or “roll”. Make a long noodle shape – now it’s a snake “ssss” or a train “choo choo”. When you have lots of little pieces and need to clean up, “push” or “dot dot dot” the pieces back together.
Make a ball and roll it “whee” or pretend it’s a bubble and let your toddler “pop” it/”poke” it with your finger or the end of the rolling pin. I use the end of the rolling pin to make wheels on vehicles, pepperoni on pizzas, and cookies – YUM!
Sticking stuff in the playdough is fun! I mentioned the straw idea above but using some of your toddlers toys to “stick” in the mud to see which ones stay “up” and which ones fall down “kaBOOM” can be seriously silly too. Get out the potato head pieces and practice body parts. Run your trucks with big tires through it to make tracks “vroom vroom”. Have any plastic animals with feet? They can make tracks too! Tongue click your horse right through that playdough blob.
Make a thick noodle and each of you grab an end. Pull it SLOWLY “oooooooo” to see how long you can hold that sound (and how long the noodle gets) before it breaks “uh-oh”.
Stack some balls into a snowman “up, up, up”. Then squish him as he melts “ewwww”.
Gently push your little one’s hand into the playdough to make an impression. Then sing 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed and each time one of the monkeys bumps his head, smooth out that finger until the hand impression disappears (along with the end of the song): “bye monkey”.
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