Friday, October 24, 2014

Let Them 'PLAY'....There Are 'DOUGH' Many Benefits!

I hope you are ready to get your hands dirty today because I have some fun planned for you where flour may fly!

I am so excited to be here to share my very first post as a Primary Pack collaborator!
I am Jenn Drake from...

I am a kindergarten teacher from Long Island, N.Y.
I am also embarking on my first year as 'mom of a kindergartener'- AND I get to do it all over again next year when my PreK-er goes into kindergarten!
My boys are my resident 'guinea pigs' and are willing to try out my crazy and fun ideas before I bring them into my classroom!

Enough with the 'small talk'...lets start PLAYING!!!

This year I have instituted play dough centers in my kindergarten classroom!  My students, so far, do not seem to object to this initiative!!!   I am embarrassed to say that for many years I saw play dough as simply something that students played with...I never really realized the benefits something as simple as play dough could have.  With all the teaching I am required to do, how could I 'sacrifice' precious teaching time to play dough??!!!

As I started selling on Teachers Pay Teachers a few years ago, I noticed 'Play Dough Mats'...I never even really gave them a second glance...
And then on Pinterest...more play dough...
Hmmm....did these teachers have less 'teaching' to do that they could 'play' all day??!!
I made play dough with my students a few times during the year but it was always for fun- little did I know I was missing out on some really great learning experiences!

Then the lightbulb came on this summer....
I was sitting with my boys while they 'played' with play dough...WAIT?!!  This isn't just 'play!'  Look at all they are learning, and doing, and figuring out, and solving...and what if I had them do this...or that...WOW!!!

So I am here today to help 'shed light' on how to incorporate more 'play' into the academics of your well as fine motor work and more benefits...all wrapped into one!
Here are just a few of the benefits of bringing play dough into your classroom!
In addition, it is a HUGE stress reliever...ever find yourself squeezing a ball our dough in your hand and feeling more relaxed?  It's the same for your students!

Additionally, if you go the route of making your own doughs (it is SIMPLE- I PROMISE!!!) you will be tapping into their need for sensory input, as well!

I always had a 'go to' recipe for making dough- but it had to be cooked.  I love making the dough with my students so I researched this summer to find a 'no cook' recipe and found an amazing resource... The Imagination Tree!
PLEASE visit her site...she has gazillions of recipes and ideas for using play dough- as well as other fine motor and sensory resources!
AND her no-cook recipe....that she advertises as 'the best no cook recipe' REALLY is!
I have used her 'basic recipe' as the base for many doughs I experimented with so far...I even know the recipe by heart!

So over the summer the boys and I made 'cookie' play dough...
By using cocoa powder and vanilla extract it had the color and smell of actual cookies!
To make it even more authentic it needed some chips....
Those 'chips' are foam!

They had a lot of fun making BIG cookies, small cookies, cutting cookies in half, stacking cookies, putting the cookies in certain positions (in, on, next to...), etc!  Can you see how the 'learning' can come in?!

So now bringing it into the classroom even further...

Use the dough to make 'cookies' on a ten frame (you can even call it a cookie sheet if you'd like!)
Use the dough to form the number, make that number of cookies and practice writing the number!
Use if for the ABC's too...make the letters, find the pictures that start with that letter and cover them with a cookie, and practice writing the letter!

Later on in the year, when you begin teaching addition and/or subtraction, use the cookies to help act out or show a number sentence!  PERFECT for classrooms with food allergies and/or in schools where food is not permitted to be used for activities!
These all work well for a play dough station activity for either your ELA or Math centers!

On the very first day of school each of my students got their own container of dough... MAGIC PLAY DOUGH- that started white but they made a wish and if a color appeared it would be a great kindergarten did!  And so our play dough fun had begun- right from day 1!

And they keep that container and dough in their cubbies and we use it nearly everyday for writing 'warm up!'  The dough lasts up to 6 months in an airtight container. Although our 6 months isn't up, I am planning on having them switch out the dough next week!  They will choose from the many doughs we have made as to which they want in their own container!

So what have we been up to with play dough in our ELA and Math centers...
Students rolled out 'apple' dough on the mat.  They looked at the picture and stamped the first letter.

We used play dough to help with recognizing positions in math centers!
Because many of them cannot read the cues just yet, I provided an 'answer' board for them to reference and then they made the shape out of dough and placed it in the designated spot:

Some students worked on matching upper and lowercase letters!

We used our fall dough (clove, cinnamon and allspice) to practice reading, stamping and writing our sight words!

But that's not all!

This past week we made candy corn playdough!
This one, by far, has been their favorite!

And as is the recipe! 

I use these containers I found at CVS over the summer to house the dough for centers.  This week I got to make them look oh so festive (and yes...they didn't last long like this!) 

They used this dough to build words, ID sounds for finding positions all week long! 

They have been SO excited about it, that I am going to give them each their own baggie full to take home next Friday as my Halloween gift to them!  No Sugar but FULL of fun!  These baggies are from the Christmas Tree Shoppe, but I am almost positive I saw Ziploc had something similar too! 
And speaking of Halloween....look at the fun mats I got from Differentiation Station Creations!
There are a few different ways I plan on having the kids use them next week as we dive into our numbers 1-5 unit!

...and we are going to continue to practice position words, but with some 'spook'-tacular mats and licorice play dough!
So now it is time to think about how YOU can use play dough in your classroom?!
There are so many ways to use it for differentiation too!  Some students may need to practice letter matching and forming- where others are ready to move onto initial sounds!  A few foam manipulatives and these cute scarecrow mats from Differentiation Station Creations, makes for a festive and meaningful phonics center!

Thinking your students are too old for play dough...think again!  I am sure they would LOVE the chance to 'go back' to 'playing' with play dough!

 Wondering how to do this if you don't have play dough stampers (I got mine from Lakeshore via a fully funded Donor's Choose project!!)?
Check out these alternative ways we stamped when we made apple pie play dough!

You can use 'regular' letter stampers: 

Or even use magnetic letters to make impressions:

Make up some play dough kits for centers- ball of dough, letter stampers (these are from a craft store kit for making plaster stepping stones!) and a roller: 
and provide your students with CVC picture cards, blends, etc that you are working on.  S/he can roll/build the words from the cards in the same way they may have traditionally used dry erase boards and markers!  They can also use some of that dough to make the object they just stamped!

Ready to try some play dough learning fun with your kiddos?!
I put together this exclusive Primary Pack freebie:
In it you will find an EDITABLE candy corn mat- just like you saw above!  You can type in whatever word/letter you are working on- sight word, spelling words, vowel patterns, vocabulary words, etc!  Print and laminate and you are ready to go! 
Also are 4 position play dough mats to try out (2 for Fall/Autumn and 2 for Halloween) and 6 mats from my apple and fall A to Z packs!

Interestingly enough, just as I was getting ready to post this, Jamie White (from Play To Learn Preschool and another Primary Pack collaborator!) shared a link about how using play dough is so beneficial to children!  Click here and you can read all about it- as well as find 2 more play dough recipes!

Ready to 'roll' and have 'dough' much fun?
There are many creative and educational play dough products on Teachers Pay Teachers- both free and paid- so be sure to do a search for your grade level!  I found resources available from PreK all the way to twelfth! 

I will be back the 24th of each month, but each day The Primary Pack is full of wonderful ideas, links, resources and fun!  

If you are looking to see more from many of The Primary Pack collaborators, be sure to check out the Fall Blog Hop that is running from October 25th-October 27th!  
You can start right on my blog, Crayons and Cuties In Kindergarten!
You will learn all about my fall favorites...and walk away with some delicious and fun ideas!

As for me...I am off to make a batch of licorice play dough for next week (sub out the vanilla extract for anise and change the coloring to black!)!  I want our dough to be 'spook'-tacular for all the Halloween fun we will be having!
Hope to see you again real soon,


  1. Always love your play dough activities!! They are so fun and easy to differentiate. I always wish that we could team teach, or that my kids could be in your class. You are the teacher that I want to be :) Thanks for all the amazing ideas. I am definitely going to do the candy corn!!

  2. Oh thank you Laura- what a flattering and sweet comment! I would be equally as lucky to teach with you! Enjoy the play dough fun!
    Crayons & Cuties In Kindergarten

  3. Wow Jennifer!! You have taken play dough to a whole other level! I LOVE IT!!! Thank you for sharing this great information! :)

  4. OMGoodness, Jenn! You are Queen of the Playdoh... and playdoh making! I can only imagine how much fun your kiddos have while learning through playdoh! Your students are so lucky to have you!

    One Sharp Bunch

  5. I've nominated you for a Leibster Award!! Copy and paste the link to find out what to do next.