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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