Most children love play dough. It's such a wonderful way to develop creativity, hand strength, and fine motor skills.
"The hand too, therefore, needs its own preparation. What is needed before one actually writes is to learn writing by means of a series of interesting exercises which form a kind of gymnastics, similar to those used to give agility to the muscles of the body." - Dr. Maria Montessori
This is why Montessori schools typically provide a variety of activities to develop and strengthen the hands throughout the early years.
Proper hand strength is the necessary for:
practical life skills
furthering gross motor skills
The list goes on. Almost all early academic learning involves the use of hands in some capacity.
At home, it's great if you can also provide your child with lots of opportunities to strengthen their hands.
This helps with all aspects of kindergarten readiness- academic (writing, puzzles, math manipulatives), opening and closing backpacks/lunch containers, and self-dressing.
And play dough is such an easy, enjoyable activity to do this.
Winter Play Dough Activity: Snowman Play Dough Tray
Loose parts are an amazing addition to play dough. There is nothing my children enjoy more than adding small bits and bobbles to their play dough creations.
And you don't have to buy loose parts like buttons, beads, or wood pieces. You can use a variety of items found in nature.
If you already have a collection of treasures your child has gathered from the outdoors, I encourage you to put them out with your play dough.
This week, I selected some acorns, acorn tops, small rocks, twigs, and pine cones for a snowman set up.
I made white play dough and set out a small bowl filled with the loose parts.