This week Sydney experienced a flood emergency. Families are displaced, rained in or have simply spent the week indoors to stay dry. So I've tried to post the easiest, the most engaging activity I could think of that would appeal to a wide range of children. It's also Plastic Free July so I've tried to set this activity up without using plastics. All of the materials for this activity I've found around our home.
Above Otto (4yrs) is using our plastic-free Playdough Station. I created it as a surprise, knowing that he would love it even more if it was offered as a gift, rather than just another activity on the shelf. I placed it on his work table, covered it with a tea towel and invited him to check it out. Of course, he loved it, and I have since updated it frequently, rotating the materials and the colours of the playdough.
I like to use lots of small bits and pieces with playdough to promote the use of the child's fine motor skills. Many families will already have lots of good items they can use around the home. Sometimes I will ask my friends or family for things, my Aunt has a huge range of craft items and we raided her button box for fun wooden and metal buttons. Here are a few of the items I've added to our plastic-free playdough station. Be aware of small items for children under three and always use under close supervision.
- metal mini tongs
- wood, metal, bamboo, shell buttons
- small gems, gem chips
- match sticks/craft sticks
- lower case wood scrabble tiles - letters re-used from puzzles/spelling boards
- wood number tiles/discs
- metal cookie cutters
- metal garlic press
- metal masher
- glass mosaic tiles
- rolling pin
- sticks, leaves, dried flowers, dried lavender, seedpods, rocks, stone, bark
- metal garlic press
- metal egg slicer (ours are all plastic)
- small birthday candles
- paper cupcake liners
- corks - we are using mini corks but the large champagne corks can be a lot of fun too.
- wooden/metal cutter/knife
- ribbon, string, wool, twine
- craft wooden cut-out shapes
- wood cubes
- balsa wood
- small wooden dowels
- textured rolling pins
- rocking stampers
- wood clay stampers
- paper straws - we can cut these into small tubes
- food items - animal pasta shapes, cinnamon sticks, Star Anise, nut shells (like walnut shells), coffee beans, dried beans, dried orange slices.
- coconut shells, coconut bowls
- cardboard cut-out shapes - use themed hole punches to make shapes
- jar lids
- florist (easily bendable) wire
Our Playdough Station is on a two-tier Lazy Susan, so it's fun for the child to turn and spin! It's a bit of a novelty.
The garlic press was a big hit and is fantastic for strengthening hand muscles. I'd suggest for older 3-4yr olds, it can be difficult for toddlers to use.
I raided our woodworking area to find wooden shapes, wood cubes and thin balsa wood pieces. The letter pieces are from a Melissa and Doug puzzle.
I find rotating the colours of playdough helps to maintain interest. 🌈 Remember that colours can influence our and our child's mood and emotions.
Shells, seed pods and feathers are fun to use with playdough.
We can find items to use with playdough in our garage or toolbox. We found lots of useful metal materials in our Magnetic Loose Parts Box.
If you are looking for a tray or a stand to create a playdough station, I like two-tier Lazy Susan's, cake stands and benchtop storage baskets.
For displaying small items we use small condiment or sauce dishes, I usually find these at dollar-style stores or at kitchen stores for only $1-$2 each. These are super useful for a wide range of children's practical life activities.
There is no shame in buying playdough. I do both - buy and make playdough depending on my schedule. My playdough recipe is here.
I love these examples of plastic-free playdough stations. Some of these are in educational and daycare settings. 😍
"At The Curiosity Approach we look to rescue, reclaim and recycle. It’s NOT about binning all the plastic and just replacing it with wooden items !
It’s about saving money and looking after the planet too. 🌍♻️
Do we really need to reach for manufactured catalogue resources, or could we be imaginative and creative ?" - The Curiosity Approach.
Other HWM playdough posts include:
- Baby Activity - Warm Lavender Playdough + Baby Playdough Caddy - for around 10 months+.
- Our Favourite and Most Used Play Dough Tools and Materials for the Under Twos!!
- Play Dough Trays To Try - & To Rotate - for 3yrs+.
- Playdough - Four Ways (including our Galaxy Dough!)
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