Literacy experience plan: Playdough

This experience supports the development of children’s fine motor strength and control, which are essential for early drawing and writing. 

It also provides opportunities for language stimulation with young children through play.

This experience should be differentiated depending on the individual child or group level.  With younger children, larger tools may need to be used; with older children a wider range of materials (e.g. cookie cutters) might be introduced.

This learning experience plan relates to:

  • emergent literacy
  • early communicator and early language user (8 months – 36 months)
  • learning focus: fine motor
  • teaching practices: play, language stimulation.

Collect information

  • What information has been gathered as evidence to inform this experience?

Links to VEYLDF

Outcome 3: wellbeing

Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing

  • Manipulate equipment and manage tools with increasing competence and skill

Outcome 5: communication

Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes

  • Children engage in enjoyable reciprocal interactions using verbal and non-verbal language

Learning intentions

  • Developing children’s fine motor strength through the manipulation of materials and playdough.
  • Developing children’s vocabulary related to sensory experiences e.g. soft, hard, squishy.

Assessment of learning

Learning is demonstrated when children:

  • manipulate the materials and playdough
  • engage in joint attention with educator or imitate language.

Resources

  • playdough – home-made is best for young children so it is safe if eaten (see recipe below)
  • materials for manipulating playdough such as plastic/wooden utensils, adding natural materials, e.g. leaves, flowers, herbs.

Group size

Small group (two-four children) or with individual child.

Differentiation

Differentiation should be based on prior assessment of the child/children’s communication skills. Examples of differentiation:

  • educators can provide varying vocabulary to describe what the child is doing or to support the child to imitate the words used.
  • educators can model making a bird’s nest and rolling eggs to develop children’s fine motor skills (different muscles and movements in the hands).

Experience process

  1. This learning experience may be set up for independent exploration and/or facilitated by an educator.
    • draw children’s attention to the materials they are using, and the texture of the playdough. Use these opportunities to model language, describing textures and movements. For example:
      • can you feel the playdough squishing?
      • the playdough is soft and squishy
  2. Encourage children to use their hands and fingers to manipulate the play dough (e.g. squeezing, pinching
  3. Encourage children to use materials provided or the playdough itself to begin to form objects (e.g. rolling the playdough into a ball or a long snake shape).

Reflect/review

Reflective questions for educators may include:

  • What learning has occurred? How do you know?
  • What have you realised about the child’s interests, knowledge, and capabilities?
  • In discussion with colleagues, what would you plan next to consolidate or extend children’s learning?

Alternate resources for this learning experience

The educator could include natural materials to engage the senses such as rosemary, leaves and flowers, and encourage children to touch, smell and describe the materials.

Playdough recipe

Ingredients:

  • two cups of plain flour
  • two tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • half a cup of salt
  • two tablespoons of cream of tartar
  • two cups of boiling water
  • food colouring.

Process:

  1. Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar and vegetable oil in a large bowl.
  2. Add food colouring to boiling water then add water to the mixing bowl half a cup at a time; continue mixing and adding water until playdough is desired consistency.
  3. Allow to cool then knead the dough to remove any lumps. Children can help with this process if the dough is cool enough.

Related learning experience plans

Links to sections