Why do it?

  • Squeezing, rolling and poking playdough can help relieve stress.
  • Handling playdough strengthens the muscles in hands and fingers, which they’ll use in the future for writing, drawing and using tools like scissors and staplers.
  • Playing with playdough is an opportunity to strengthen hand–eye co-ordination.
  • Playdough presents many pretend-play possibilities.
  • It’s also a chance to introduce specific vocabulary to the child — for example, the words ‘roll’, ‘pinch’, ‘pat’ and ‘squeeze’.

How to do it

  • Here’s a recipe for cooked playdough:

Mix together:

  • 1 cup of flour
  • ½ cup of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
  • food colouring
  • 1 cup of water

Heat gently and stir until mixture forms a soft ball.

Cool the dough and then knead until smooth.

Wrap it in cling wrap and store in the fridge, or in a tightly covered container.

  • Protect floors and furniture by spreading an old sheet or some newspaper under the area where the playdough will be used.
  • Some children will enjoy rolling snakes and balls, or pressing objects into the dough — like blocks, the potato masher, forks and so on.
  • If the child is reluctant to use their hands, offer them utensils like sticks, straws or plastic cutlery.
  • Decide on the limits of where it’s okay to play with playdough, and stick to them — return the child back to that area if they start to wander around with it.

Using more te reo Māori

Te reo Māori English
Pat down
To fold
Taku poikere My playdough
Tōu kere pokepoke Your playdough
Rolling pin
Kaua e kai Don't eat
Haere mai ki te tēpu Come to the table
Me ruirui te puehu parāoa ki runga i te tēpu Sprinkle some flour on the table
Pokepoke i te parāoa Kneading the dough
Horoia ō ringaringa Wash your hands