The words “play dough invitation” sound so fun, and sort of, well, inviting. If you’re a bit intimidated by the word invitation--thinking it involves throwing a full-scale party complete with cake, punch, and pony rides--don’t be!
Setting up a play dough invitation or “invitation to play” is easier than you might think. Plus, your children or students will have tons of fun without even realizing all the fine motor skills, creativity, and learning benefits they’ll be getting while they play.
Play Dough Invitations: What are they?
A play dough invitation is simply a way of encouraging or inviting your children or students to a creative, open-ended (no outcome or directions to follow), imaginative play session using play dough and other items that you likely already have at home.
The goal is to create an inviting sensory experience that children will want to engage in. A great way to do this is by using your child’s own interests or by setting the invitation to play around a certain season or holiday such as dinosaurs, fall, Christmas, princesses, nature...I think you get the idea!
What are the benefits of play dough invitations?
Play dough invitations are great for encouraging creative and imaginative play. Another major benefit of playing with play dough is the development of fine motor skills. When children squeeze, roll, and stretch the dough they’re building the muscles in their hands. These muscles will help them to do other fine motor activities in the future like holding a pencil correctly.
Other benefits of playing with play dough include improved hand-eye coordination, social skill development, and literacy and math skill development, to name a few.
Setting Up a Play dough Invitation
You’ll have to decide on the theme of your invitation to play. In winter you may want to create a winter scene invitation, snowman invitation or even a Christmas inspired play dough invitation. Some popular ideas that work well for a Christmas invitation include a Christmas tree, star, or gingerbread man cookie theme. You’ll need a tray divided into sections to place the items into. A chip and dip or fruit tray would be great for this, but bowls, paper plates or coffee filters will also work just fine.
You can use purchased play dough or make your own from a simple play dough recipe that can easily be found online, such as our Snow Dough recipe. For a Christmas invitation, consider making scented play dough or adding sparkles to the dough for added sensory elements. Peppermint or cinnamon scented dough are great choices!
Gather the items and accessories for the invitation. Some suggestions include cookie cutters, small wooden rolling pins, buttons of different sizes and colors, tiny beads, pompoms, bell cut-outs, shiny confetti, bit of fabric, and anything else that you’d like to include. Set it all out and invite your children to play.
That’s it! It really is that simple. Now let’s look at a few more ways to use play dough to engage children in meaningful learning.
Extend the Fun and Learning
Young children learn best through play. Extend your play dough invitations with these other fun activities:
Fun and learning go hand-in-hand when it comes to early childhood. Who knew that play dough could be such a wonderful tool for helping your little ones develop and grow?
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