I feel it is important to have a medium such as playdough available for the children my classroom.  Not only does it provide a natural means of artistic expression, but it is also ideal for sensory/tactile development.  Playdough can also play a critical role in emotional expression in the classroom as a child may work through various feelings while using it.  There have been many times when I have said, “You may pound on this playdough, but not on our shelves (or books, or whatever the case may have been…).”

Throughout the years, I have experimented with different ways of presenting the materials for playdough.  Previously, a large quantity was placed in an air-tight container alongside additional playdough utensils.  While this method worked fine, I did find that having such a large amount available could be overwhelming for some children.  During last school year, I experimented with separating the playdough into individual portions which was met with much enthusiasm from the children.  Consequently, while setting up the classroom for this coming school year, I have decided to present the playdough in a similar manner.  The following photo shows our playdough materials set up on one of the shelves dedicated to art activities:

Individual containers of playdough labeled with the child’s name;  tray with rolling pin and apple cookie-cutter in a small basket.  The space on the shelf is defined by the decorative apple mat which is in keeping with our ‘apple’ theme.

Once the child identifies their container, they place it onto the tray, in the space next to the basket.  I particularly like how this setup enables the child yet another opportunity for name recognition in the classroom!  Now they are ready to bring the tray to their chosen workspace and retrieve a playdough workmat:

Playdough workspace.

I realize that playdough is an ideal catalyst for social interaction as well.  For this reason, if more that one child wishes to use playdough at one time, I will have additional workmats available for their use.  I feel this is especially important during the initial weeks of school as the children are getting to know one another and I will be busy in other areas of the room giving new lessons!

The amount of thought and attention to detail represented in the prepared environment continually amazes me…  All of this time and effort into the presentation of playdough – I must be in the right field because it brings me much happiness! 😉

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