Kids this age just love to mold, squeeze and squish play dough.

How to Introduce Play Dough to Preschoolers

by Jennie Dalcour

It's squishy, soft and moldable. Play dough provides hours of creative fun for your preschooler -- or, preschooolers -- if you have more than one in this age group. Your children will delight in the mushy texture and the sculpting possibilities. While your children are busy creating, they will also experience hidden benefits. Children develop longer attention spans, improve their fine motor skills, and can even develop her language skills when she interacts with others (like you!) through molding and squishing play dough. Increase the educational value by enlisting your kids to help you make homemade dough. Playing with play dough will quickly become your kids’ favorite activity, and you'll feel like "parent of the year!"

1 Explain the rules to your preschooler before you make the play dough. Tell him that he must keep the play dough on the table to avoid messes. Young children are notorious play dough-eaters. Don't encourage him to eat it, but if he does, it's no biggie! This is an edible play dough recipe, and kids do tend to eat this. It's main ingredient is flour, and your precious crafter will be just fine if he eats a bit of this. Too much flour might make him full, but flour, food coloring, salt and water won't make him sick.

2 Ask your little one what she thinks will happen when you combine the ingredients for the play dough. Encourage her to predict the effects of adding water to flour. Creating play dough can be an exciting learning activity.

3 Combine 1/3 cup salt and 1 cup flour in a bowl. Pour ¼ cup water into the flour mixture. Squeeze several drops of food coloring into the mixture and knead dough until it reaches the desired consistency. The kids can help measure and knead.

4 Provide your child with a lump of play dough. Show her how to squish the dough and create objects. Provide tools to manipulate the dough, like rollers plastic knives and cookie cutters.

5 Encourage your tike to be creative. There is no right or wrong way to play with play dough. Praise his amazing play dough creations. If you're unsure about what they've made, ask him to tell you about it.

Items you will need

  • ¼ cup salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • Bowl
  • ¼ cup water
  • Food coloring
  • Play dough tools

Tip

  • Use store-bought play dough if you do not have enough time to make your own.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images