Teaching with Play Dough

Play dough- children love it, and you can use it to teach many lessons in Sunday School. Even after using play dough to teach for a month of Sundays, children will return to your class eager to use it again.

putty-789874 640Toddlers and kindergartners, alike, enjoy play dough, each interacting with it at their own level of ability. Toddlers will poke and pull on play dough. Twos begin to roll their play dough into balls and snake shapes. Threes will sit for a long time, making shape after shape with cookie cutters. Fours and fives are ready to experiment with free-form shapes and scenes.

Homemade Play Dough

The best and least expensive play dough is homemade. It is easy to make and is safe- even for 1-year-olds who often like to taste what their fingers get into. Homemade dough feels softer than canned play dough, and is easier to shape and reshape. With homemade dough, students can help decide what color the next batch will be, and teachers can scent the dough with baking extracts (like lemon or mint).

If you have never made play dough, try a couple of my favorite recipes.

Recipe 1

In a medium sauce pan, mix:
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 t. cream of tartar
2 cups water
2 T. oil
food coloring
baking extract (for scent)

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture forms a ball. Check for doneness by pressing shallow dents in dough. If dough feels sticky, cook a little longer. Store in a plastic bag or airtight container. This recipe makes enough dough for six to eight children.

Recipe 2

In a medium bowl, mix:

1 pkg. unsweetened Kool-Aid
1 T. alum
3 cups flour (2 1/2 to start)
1/2 cup salt
3 T. oil
1 3/4 cups boiling water

Mix all ingredients with a large spoon. When the dough cools enough to handle, knead to finish blending. Store in an airtight container.

19 Play Dough Teaching Ideas

You will probably find many, many ways to teach with play dough, but here are 19 suggestions to help you get started.

5 Story Review Ideas

1. Lay small pieces of play dough all over a tabletop like manna. Collect the manna in play dough baskets.
2. Cut animal shapes to lay in a cardboard "ark" or "stable."
3. Use free-form stones to build a sheepfold for the Good Shepherd's sheep.
4. Stockpile play dough loaves in a box barn with Joseph.
5. Use cookie cutter shapes to create the Garden of Eden.

5 Ways To Teach About Sharing

1. Ask for help to pass out play dough and/or cookie cutters. Thank helpers for sharing.
2. Help each child pull a bit of play dough from his mound to give to a latecomer. Explain that God is pleased when we share with our friends.
3. Give each child a mound of dough and a plastic knife. Let each child cut off pieces of his "loaf" to give to others at the table.
4. Give each child a cookie cutter, perhaps one that represents a part of creation. Ask the child to make enough copies of his shape to share with others.
5. Encourage children to count play dough shapes and make sure everyone has an equal number.

5 Ways To Teach Cooperation

1. Ask each child to use his cookie cutter to make a part of a scene, such as flowers and animals in a garden.
2. Work in teams to make families of various sizes. (Include animal families.)
3. Give each child a paper plate. Assign a different food to each child (e.g., peas, hot dogs, bread). Each child should shape enough of his assigned food to put on everyone's plate. (Pretend this is a Thanksgiving meal, and thank God for food and friends.)
4. Assign each child a background or figure shape to make for retelling a Bible story (e.g., stars, rocks, a man on a ladder, and angels for the story of Jacob's ladder).
5. Make I-do-you-do shapes. For example, one part at a time, form the body, fins, and eyes of a fish. Ask each child to watch what you do and imitate your model.

4 Miscellaneous Ideas

1. Use a mound of play dough as the base for a silk flower arrangement. (Cut the stem of each flower to be only 2 to 3 inches long.)
2. Press rocks, seashells or other objects into play dough to make interesting designs.
3. Make handprints. Count the hands God made.
4. Let each child use a variety of cookie cutters, then sort everyone's shapes.


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