5 Reasons to Play with Modeling Dough
Let's cut to the chase. At Dough n' Play we make beautiful, natural modeling dough in Canada on Salt Spring Island, BC. Here's why we (an entrepreneurial 8-year-old and her Early Childhood Educator mom) love to play with dough, and we think you might, too.
Reasons to Play with Modeling Dough
Modeling dough inspires creativity and expression
Modeling dough is also known as playing dough, play putty, and frequently mistakenly referred to as "play dough" due to another brand of doughs traditional popularity. Whatever you want to call this open-ended, moldable material, it puts creativity and imagination into children's hands. It does not direct children in how to play with it.
Depending on your individual child's development, strengths, mood, personality and interests of the day, they will respond to the material in whatever way makes the most meaning to them.
I always recommend caregivers start my introducing modeling dough to children without any tools. Encourage them to explore with their hands and senses before introducing some tools and toys to expand on the play that your child shows they are interested in.
Play with Dough Trains Our Hands
The muscles and fine motor movement involved in playing with modeling dough develops and exercises muscles and coordination that is an important precursor to writing. It can be surprising to notice how time spent dedicated to pushing and squishing, rolling and pinching, squeezing and otherwise manipulating the dough can tire little ones out!
Those fine motor skills and muscle development really can be exhausting when your little body is growing. For parents, this can make it an especially helpful activity to spend time on before nap-time (or during younger siblings naps) and in the evening before bedtime.
Modeling Dough is Relaxing
Undoubtedly, modeling dough is a material that promotes calming sensory experience for soothing stress. You don't even have to create a thing. Just moving the dough with my hands and tools can be enough to keep myself fully engaged in the therapeutic and mindful feeling of just being in my body.
There are no requirements. There are no expectations. There is no "right" way to play. This can be immensely comforting for children with anxiety that fear doing things "the wrong way".
Playing with Dough Connects Us
One of the things that quickly became apparent to me as an Early Childhood Educator (ie preschool teacher) is the power of the modeling dough table in the classroom.
When a child (or parent) enters into a classroom for the first time, the dough table often draws them in. And if not, you can be sure I will encourage them to sit there for a while and play. While they are playing with such an easily manipulated material with no expectations, they can feel a sense of purpose and belonging in the space while quietly observing the room and what all is going on.
This relaxed way of being in a new (or busy) setting opens the stage for conversations and establishing relationships with the people and space surrounding them. Sitting together at the table, we can casually chat and get to know each other, share interests and ideas, noticing, commenting and responding to what the other is doing. At the same time, becoming comfortable with the environment we're in, and feel more connected to who is there.
Modeling Dough is Versatile
Modeling dough can be used on it's own or with an endless variety of accessories and tools. Loose parts, nature treasures, stamps and textured objects, rollers and other kitchen tools can make the most interesting and provoking materials.
The best part is that you can find many items free in your home or natural environment, inexpensive from second-hand thrift shops, or support local makers of natural, quality toys and learning supplies. (As a small Canadian non-toxic modeling dough business made in BC, that just may be us!)
You can use play putty or modeling dough as a connecting material in constructing, as a sturdy base to build a tower on, or as a playscape to create imaginary scenarios. Use your modeling dough as props for play, as an art medium, and as an invitation to move (get that dough on a big sheet on the floor and let those toes play!). Learn about tracks and the animals who make them by adding small toys with anatomical structure to imprint in the playing dough.
The ideas are limitless. Looking for an easy way to get your own play going? Shop our natural and eco-friendly product collection to order a one-time dough delivery or a natural modeling dough subscription in Canada to make sure you don't miss out on the fun. Maybe even add on some wooden toys made locally on Vancouver Island right here in BC, Canada.
Over the course of the next few months, I would love to put together even more ideas for you on ways to play with modeling dough. Sign up below for our email newsletter so you can keep up to date with what's new on our blog, new products available for purchase, giveaways and promotions, and more. You can also follow us on Facebook and on Instagram.
Now, Dough n' Play!!