With all the discussion about the importance of STEM and STEAM learning in education these days, it occurred to me that the act of making play dough and the art of playing with it is the perfect preschool STEAM activity. Play dough is, in fact, a wonderful “handmade education,” involving science, math, technology, and engineering, as well as creative art and design exploration!
First of all there is the mixing and measuring. This is a practical life exercise which involves both mathematics and science. (Note: Our favorite easy, no-cook play dough recipe can be found here, but we now prefer the texture of this cooked play dough recipe.)
After the dough has been made, it needs to be cut into fractions. This is more math and a bit of practical preschool engineering and technology when learning how the simple machine of a knife (lever) is used.
Next, we need to mix in the colors. It’s more science and a bit of design and art as well, not to mention learning how to engineer a crevice which helps keep the liquid color from escaping.
Then there is the kneading in of the color. More science, more engineering, and a lot of fine motor muscle exercise!
Finally we have four balls of color to explore. Then comes the most fun part of all! The playing and shaping, sculpting, squeezing, designing and creative thinking. The “A” in “STEAM”.
Don’t forget to extend the creativity and design aspect of playing with play dough using outside objects. Small, loose parts can add a new dimension of creative thinking to the play. Check out these 34 suggestions for objects you can find around the house to add to your child’s play dough fun.
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