Nature Tools With Play Dough
You might already know that I love to use play dough with preschool kids. I love the soft squishiness of it, and its soothing properties. Especially when it’s scented in various ways. So adding open-ended items from nature for kids to explore with is just the icing on the cake. They provide opportunities for so much creativity and imagination, vs. the traditional cookie cutters and store-bought tools we often find being used with play dough. (Of course, whether you’re in a classroom or library or at home with your own kids, be sure everything is smooth, safe, and sized right for the kids!)
Acorns and Twigs and Leaves–Oh, my!
Depending on where you live in the world, the types of nature items you can add to your play dough is going to vary. In my neck of the woods, fall is one of my favorite times to include nature items at the play dough table. Acorns and other nuts that drop are perfect little nuggets. Leaves of various sizes, shapes and colors; pine cones & pine needles; bark and twigs… All of these provide so many sensory and creative opportunities as the children poke, prod and smoosh to their hearts’ content! Hello, open-ended play!
Collecting the Goods
I always feel that kids are more involved in activities when they take part in setting up those experiences. So give everyone a small reusable bag and head out to a park or playground. Let the kids collect as many nature items as they can fit into their bags! You don’t need to use them all with your play dough. There are a million and one other uses for these things. (I’ll do another blog post on those another day!) For now, pull out a variety from their collections, arrange them on a tray with a few lumps of dough, and let the creativity begin! I bet you’ll be amazed at the creations the kids come up with. (And of course I encourage you to try this with plain/scented/colored dough varieties to see how that changes things!)
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