Dried Play Dough & Water. Invitation to Play & Explore

Jul 9, 2012

play dough, kids activity, science

So, you know all those little bits of dried up play dough that you are inevitably left with over time? Well, previously we've always just thrown them out, but today I thought that we could use them in an Invitation to Play and Explore

An invitation to play and explore is an activity where you've intentionally set out specific materials but left it up to the child to take the activity where they want to. It's an open-ended activity with no set outcome at the end.



This is what I set up for her to explore:
 A container of dried play bough bits, water in a squirter, a container with lid, an open container and a spoon



I thought she'd go for the water bottle first but it was all about transferring the dried play dough from one dish to another with the spoon.



She really loved squirting the water on the play dough



It didn't take much water for it to start feeling quite soft again. Slimy too!



Quite the sensory experience



There was one piece that would not soften regardless of how much she soaked it.
It was much harder than the other pieces and we concluded it must have been left out to dry for much longer than the rest.



She remember there was another container. Time to pour it all in there.



Mixing and Stirring and Watching



That right, and Shaking!



And Squeezing!



And Decanting.



The more water, the stickier it got! Ewwwww. Fun!


Handy Tips:

- The great thing about an open-ended invitation to play and explore is that you don't need to really simplify it for younger children. You can provide the same materials and let them explore within their own abilities.

- Extend this activity by offering a challenge once they've explored all they can. An example might be to challenge them to try and make the play dough feel like new/fresh play dough again. How could this be done? Talk about the difference between solids and liquids etc.

- I provided the water in a spray bottle to encourage my daughter to add the water more slowly. Had I given her a little jug of water it would have all been poured in at the very beginning and she would not have seen or experienced the play dough going through as many stages as she did. If you don't have a water bottle though, a small jug or bottle of water is fine.

- Talk to your child about what they are experiencing in order to develop their cognitive skills (thinking) and language development. Not to forget the important bonding that takes place between you both.

- Ask your child questions about what they are experiencing. Eg. "What does the play dough feel like now?" "What do you think it will feel like if you add more water?" etc.

- Mix it up by providing the same materials but also with a small tub of plain flour. See what happens!




Happy playing,
Debs :)






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89 comments:

  1. Love this! What a great experimental play activity! I bet lots of conversation and new words came up whilst doing this activity together! :) I've pinned this for future use. And what a wonderful way to use up 'old' playdough!

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  2. And to think that I just threw them in the bin!

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    Replies
    1. haha, oh, there'll always be plenty more of where that came from! Next time :)

      Delete
  3. Such a great idea! And so funny, my Dino Boy did something very similar last week playing with his latest batch of playdough (which was fresh). And I could see it coming... he was looking at his water, and then back to the playdough... next thing we had a wonderfully slimy wet mess!! But we will be keeping our dried up playdough to remember to do this in an organised way next time :-)

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    Replies
    1. haha, that was why I went with the squirter bottle because my little girl would have done exactly what Dino Boy did. Bet he had fun though! I love it when they experiment on their own (with me around of course lol) :D

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  4. Such a fantastic idea! What agreat way to use every last piece of play dough and waste nothing. We love sensorial play at our place. Water and play dough are two of my son's favourite things - he'll love mixing them together. I've pinned this.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Ness. Hope he enjoys it. Once he's done, try leaving the play dough in the water overnight. The water is almost like paint and the play dough is soooo squishy and sticky :)

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  5. Yes I always have dried up old playdough and I throw it away.... well next time I will let the kids add water. I have just pinned this too.

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    Replies
    1. I'm wondering now though if Maddie will ever let me throw it away again haha :)

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  6. Love this and never thought of using the dry bits like this. Thanks!

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  7. Just threw a bunch away, too. I think I am going to leave some out (cheating?) Just so we can try it! I can feel that squishy, slimy playdough right along with her!!!

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    Replies
    1. haha, totally cheating. But, that's another experiment in itself ;) I may have another post, thanks lol

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  8. What a great activity...the girls would love this, we love mess as you know! I think i have already pinned this but if not i shall pin to my toddler board!

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  9. Me too! I just threw some green dried up old bits of play dough away. This would have made for great green slime. :) I love the squirter bottle idea - fab! :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Janice. The squirter bottle worked well. We would have gone straight to slime otherwise, haha, at least it still would have been fun :D

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  10. euuuw slimey, but oh so much fun!!!

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    Replies
    1. go on, you won't be able to resist having a little touch haha

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  11. My son is very excited that we are saving the dry bits for this!

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    Replies
    1. haha, yay! :) Let me know how you go. Maybe you'll discover something different!

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  12. I need to stop throwing mine away. This looks like fun!

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  13. This is wonderful, we always just throw our old playdough away as well but we are going to give this a go instead next time! I love it when things that are usually discarded end up providing hours of fun and learning.

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  14. Ok...this is one of those "Why didn't I think of that!?" moments. Awesome idea, and thank you for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. haha, yep, I still think that all the time when I see other ideas out there, lol. Glad you liked :)

      Delete
  15. What a great idea! My son would love this. Going to pin-frogs and snails and puppy dog tails

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  16. What a fantastic idea! I just found you through the Measured Mom and you have wonderful ideas. I've never heard of this "invitation to play and explore" idea before. My kids would love this. Thank you!

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  17. Great idea. My granddaughter loves to spray water from a bottle but I've had difficulty finding a spray bottle that was small enough for her hands. Do you have a source you could share?

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