How Children Can Explore STEAM Through Play Dough
First things first—a little bit about me: I’m Wendy Oon, and I’ve been in the early years education industry for a number of years now.
As an early childhood educator, play dough has always been a very important tool. We use it to help children strengthen their fine motor skills, gain concentration, and also indirectly learn and understand concepts.
STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) has been the focus in the academic realm for a number of years now.
But now, the Arts have been incorporated into the mix to allow students to think as an engineer and designer, and to think technically and creatively - making the future-focused umbrella more comprehensive and integrative.
Hence, the A in STEAM!
How to incorporate STEAM with play dough
It really is as simple as gathering some play dough and one set of materials: either sticks or straws.
That’s right! Just by using sticks/straws and play dough, children across various age groups can engage in a fun activity that challenges them to construct things, buildings, shapes, and designs, enables them to think analytically and creatively, and allows them to hone their problem-solving skills.
Of course, this activity would be even better with support and encouragement from adults. Adults can participate in the activity as well by asking open-ended questions and prompting a thought-provoking conversation.
Questions such as:
Tell me about your beautiful creation.
How did you manage to make this tall building stand?
Asking them and giving them the space to think about the questions and explain their answers are both very important in making children think beyond the obvious, imagine the different possibilities, and enrich their understanding of concepts
If you’re still wondering, what does STEAM have to do with play dough? Well, here’s a little breakdown:
Relates to the forces and changes on the play dough.
Can be involved when a questions occurs and/or by incorporating digital devices and platforms to learn about different structures of building, or to supplement the hands-on activity of using play dough.
Relates to the technical/analytical skills of building and constructing.
Relates to the creative skills of designing and creating.
Relates to the incorporation of shapes and measurements.
Overall, this simple activity already has so much potential in terms supporting children in their learning and development.
I’d love to shed some light on how you can make the most of the activity to enrich your child’s learning experience and make it even more enjoyable. Stay tuned for more!
Wendy Oon is the business owner of A-DOUGH-RABLE (hey.adoughrable), selling homemade and non-toxic play dough to little explorers, learners, and creators. With a background in early childhood education and 8 years of experience under her belt, she infuses learning and education tools with fun, family bonding activities.