Playdough is a must-have on every early year’s teachers list especially since the rapid change in children’s play. Where they once may have played outside using marbles, making petal potions and making mud pies, children now are doing less fine motor skills which are resulting in poor dexterity.
This is why early years teachers are doing fiddly finger work than ever. I have seen fiddle draws, fiddle cupboards, finger gym, fine finger time and lots more different initiatives to bring this skill on.
What air-drying clay do we use? THIS ONE! Lasts ages and is natural, some do have synthetics in so be careful 🙂
However, playdough only works inside. Believe me! I have taken it outside and if you are into natural playdough recipes many of you will be there with me when its rained and set like concrete!
So my magical trick to get fine fiddly work outside for those fingers, especially on cold days is to us CLAY!
What are the benefits of clay?
- Clay is believed to have very therapeutic qualities that calm the mind and can be used for drawing a child’s mind to the present, mindfulness.
- Clay is completely natural therefore unlikely to bother anyone that has allergies
- It connects children to nature
- It is a great science lesson see this youtube clip about how to make your own clay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGuYNwp1OUY
- It can be dropped and left outside and not harm the environment
- It has fatty oils in good for preventing allergies
Here are five ways to use claydough outside
- Use it as a binder, teach children how they can make stick men with it joining the sticks together to make legs and arms using the clay to stick them on. This could then be used to make other things such as bug stones and leaf butterflies.
- Make small bowls or utensils out of the clay, let it dry in a dry place and add to your mud kitchen!
- Make the animals some habitats, make small nests and use nearby items such as grass and hay to make them cosy.
- Giant class snake. Give each child a small bit of claydough and ask them to bind them all together to make one long class snake. Make sure he/she/they has a name!
- Make a claydough creation. Simply hand out the claydough and let them do whatever they fancy!
- Watch it melt. If it is a rainy day, so what! Let the children go out with the clay and watch it change state. Ask and wonder why, mix it and get muddy with it.
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Click here to read a Telegraph article on the benefits of being outside.
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