Yesterday morning, we still had blobs of homemade play dough left that I knew wouldn’t last forever! The colors were getting pretty mixed up and I imagine with a bit more mashing around, an unwelcoming brown color would start to emerge. I didn’t have anything else planned, so I thought I would set up this play, create, explore and imagine station for Liam at his little table. This is, by far, the toughest type of play for Liam! No real beginning or end, just imagination and free play. He is much more likely to enjoy something and understand something like a game which has a very clear start and finish and only lasts a certain amount of time. However, sometimes it is fun to be able to just sit down without a clear purpose and just create. We are also trying to give him ideas for independent play since board games are usually at least a two person activity.
I could tell right away what a struggle this concept was for Liam. I had to explain and show him a few times how he could just stick stuff in and make designs or patterns or whatever. I wanted to let the whole process evolve as organically as possible so he could use his own imagination to make something neat instead of what my imagination would create! He needs a lot of direction but doesn’t usually accept direction unless I start doing it or he is really interested. I had to just start on my own and hope his interest would develop as he watched me enjoy playing with the play dough.
I might have had a little fun with this one!
He did this all by himself.
We got some ideas going. He talked a lot about obstacle courses and mazes as he pushed the golf tees into the play dough. Play dough is such an amazing source of creativity. It is a blank canvas for little minds to explore, create and imagine endless possibilities for play and discovery. Not to mention it is great for working hand and arm muscles and developing hand skills.
He made a popsicle with his play dough and I thought some cookie cutters might help extend play, but cookie cutters really aren’t his thing. I was trying to come up with more ways to keep the play going, so I pulled out a mini muffin tin, muffin papers and candles and hoped he might want to make some treats! He always seems to enjoy a round of happy birthday play.
He did like making the cupcakes and putting candles in them. By making these, he did work on rolling balls with the play dough before smooshing them into the muffin tins. I was able to cleverly disguise some skills work in the activity and by having to roll one ball for each of the muffin compartments, we made the activity last a bit longer!
It’s always nice when he can get a bit of fine motor practice without having the activity be all about specific skills. I am pretty sure he doesn’t know that pushing the candles into each of the little muffins is considered fine motor work!
As a grand finale, a rousing version of Happy Birthday was sung for all. This was a hard activity to make last any real length of time. It is not an independent play type of activity for us, so I had to sit with him the whole time and be visibly active in the play. I knew if I tried to fade out of the play, he would be all done immediately. However, I like to try out ways to encourage his creativity and free play. I am sure many of you will enjoy it! I had fun!