Summer playdough playtime

I love planning activities to do at home with ToddlerGirl. For one, I find they make the day go much more smoothly and quickly for us both, which makes my life a lot easier. As well as that, things like our winter play day and the spring garden in a box have resulted in so much fun and more than rewarded any effort on my part. Of course, I don’t always have the time or energy to set these up! So I’ve found it pretty much an essential to have a few easy activities up my sleeve that I can whip out with minimal preparation time. One of my new favourites has to be playdough.

I bought a couple of tubs a few weeks ago to see how we got on with it before I put any effort into making a batch. Both ToddlerGirl and I have been loving it: ToddlerGirl for the tactile, squishy squashy fun of it and me for the amount of play it generates and the limited amount of clean up required afterwards.

Our playdough playtime had a bit of a summertime flavour today:

  • A green plastic mat (to sort of represent green grass)
  • Two lovely lumps of playdough in cheerful orange and yellow
  • Two flower shaped dishes, one filled with a selection of summery-type objects (butterflies, caterpillars, frogs, a bucket of plastic flowers) and the other with some items to stick in the playdough (paper flowers, sequin leaves and flowers, feathers, pom poms and green curling ribbon)
  • An empty egg carton

It took a matter of minutes to gather everything together and ToddlerGirl was happily occupied for at least three quarters of an hour. First we rolled some into balls and put them in the egg carton. Then we flattened some out and poked our fingers in before seeing what else we could stick into it. I try to let ToddlerGirl explore everything herself but I do give a few nudges here and there to highlight things she might like to try. Sometimes, she’ll give whatever I’m doing a cursory glance, other times she will take over and really go with it. This was definitely the case when we started finding items to stick into the playdough. She was completely focused on creating a bit of a playdough sculpture, carefully picking up the sequin flowers and leaves and sticking them onto the mound in just the right place, along with the odd feather for good measure. I loved watching the concentration on her face.

After she’d worked on this for a while, she moved onto decorating the balls we’d made earlier on. Then we squished our frogs, caterpillars and butterflies into the piles of playdough and examined the patterns these were making in the playdough. A found the little froggy ‘handprints’ to be particularly funny!

The session ended when ToddlerGirl started to throw the playdough onto the floor, tried to eat a few bits and tipped over one of the flower dishes with all the sequins inside… Generally a pretty reliable signal that she has had enough of an activity and it is time to stop! This didn’t at all detract from the enjoyment we had before that, though, and I have learnt not to get disheartened when her attention wanes, especially if we have been focused on the activity for what I consider to be a good portion of time.

I shall definitely make up a batch or two of my own playdough next (if I remember to add cream of tartar to my shopping list as I keep forgetting!). There is a recipe on The Imagination Tree (where else :)) that looks fairly simple and I am excited to experiment with some different colours and scents. There is so much ‘scope for the imagination’ with playdough, so I have a feeling we will be playing with it for a long time to come!

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