Wednesday, September 16, 2015

It's National Play Dough Day (yes, really!!)

Hi, Teaching Friends!

In yet another proof that there's a day for everything (and everything in its day), today is National Play Dough Day. Yes, it seriously is, or at least as serious as you can get with Play Dough.

When you talk with adults about Play Dough, it seems to be a strongly emotional thing. Either you love it (That scent! Rolling the longest snakes! The fun factory!)  or hate it, which is pretty much only from people who've had the job of picking the dried pieces out of their carpeting. Ick.


Play Dough was invented in the 1930's as a wallpaper cleaner. Then, in the 50's, some clever kids started using the cleaner as a modeling compound and, there you have it - Play Dough! Thanks, kids!

If you're, ahem, of a certain age, you might remember shows like DingDongSchool, Romper Room, and Captain Kangaroo. They were among the first to feature Play Dough as an advertiser, way back in the 50's!

If you took all of the Play Dough that's ever been made, rolled it into a big ball (or maybe the world's longest Play Dough snake),  it would weigh as much as 2,000 Statues of Liberty!

(Thanks to MentalFloss for these cool facts!)


There are so many great ways to use Play Dough in school! Here are two of my favorites.

*  Use Play Dough every afternoon during the first week of school. It's a very calming activity and of course the children love to use it! After some free play and working on the basics on the first day (making snakes and pancakes), move on to something new each day, like snake letters, poking holes in a Play Dough pancake to make numerals, etc. Try following directions, like "Make three balls. Two should be the same size, and the third one should be bigger than the others."  This is also a great way to do some informal assessment.

*  Use little balls of Play Dough to model subtraction. For 5-3: Make five balls, then squish three. How many are left? The action of pounding down the balls seems to make subtraction real for some kids!

Here are a few more ideas, from Pinterest!

From Tina at MothersNiche, here's a terrific collection of links to free printable Play Dough mats for early math and literacy.

These "Feed the Monster" mats from PreKinders would make a great October math center. Cute monsters for Halloween - none of the scary stuff!

Use Play Dough with rubber stamps in a Working with Words Center. I love this because a) it eliminates the job of washing the messy ink off the stamps, and b) it's easy for kids to self-correct - just smooth out the clay and start over! Here are some ideas from No Time for Flashcards.

Last of the list is this super cool planet project from Malia at Playdough to Plato. I'm excited to try this one with our grandkids! Even if you don't have time for creating the layers of the Earth, just making mini-globes would be a lot of fun!

What's your favorite way to use Play Dough in your classroom?  Please share your ideas in a comment!

Happy Teaching!

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