I’m excited to be partnering with my dear friends Courtney and Avi, the owners of the magical Park Slope toy store, Norman & Jules. Each week I will be sharing a new product of theirs and talking to you all about the developmental benefits of it and different ways you can play with it.
As most of us, I'm trying to find the good in what we are all going through right now. So far for me, my positive takeaway is that I can spend more quality time with my daughter and reacquaint myself with some of her toys to fill her school days with more opportunities to play. She has always been a fan of play dough and even at 10 years old, she can spend a lot of time creating with it. Her new favorite play dough is made by Land of Dough.
They make the most beautiful collection that I have ever seen — and the best part is that it is eco-friendly! Using plant-based colors, compostable glitters and use essential oils to provide a calming effect while they play. Another fantastic feature of Land of Dough is that once it starts to dry out a bit, you can easily rehydrate your dough by wrapping it in a damp paper towel in the container overnight.
The developmental benefits of playing with dough is significant. First, this is an open-ended activity which is crucial for the development of social and emotional intelligence, encourages problem solving skills, creativity, imagination and independence. It also works on the following developmental skills:
- Improves fine motor and manipulation skills while increasing strength in your little one’s hands
- Improves pre-writing skills
- Develops hand-eye coordination skills
- Playing with dough can have a calming effect on children when they might be feeling scared or anxious
- Provides an opportunity for experimentation and exploration
Here are a couple quick and easy activities you can do with your Land of Dough:
- Practice making shapes, letters and numbers by rolling your dough into long snakes with both hands. This is a great way to practice spelling for older children and aid in shape recognition for the younger ones. It also enhances your child's pre-writing skills by developing their pincer grip (the squeezing of the pointer finger and thumb to grasp an object).
- Work on improving cutting and fine motor skills by cutting rolled out dough into smaller pieces. Rolling and manipulating the dough also develops and strengthen hand muscles. The strengthened hand muscles also help improve fine motor skills of your child. You can also use toothpicks or other thin materials to poke into the dough, having them pull the objects out using just their thumbs and pointer finger for the development of grasping skills.
- Gather some loose materials (dry pasta, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, etc.) and have your kids create faces, animals or anything else that they can conjure up. The dough provides your child with unlimited possibilities to invent and encourages imaginary play. If your child uses various shapes, rolling pins and other tools while playing with dough it further improves their creative imagination.
- When your child plays with play-dough along with family members they will interact, talk, discuss problems and find solutions to creating great works of art. This will enhance your child's social and cooperation skills.
- Explore color mixing and different shapes to encourage curiosity and questioning. These experiments not only help increase knowledge and help overall development, it facilitates the desire to push boundaries and create the unknown.
Be sure to check back weekly for my collaboration with Norman & Jules. While their physical doors may be closed, they are working as hard as ever to make sure our kids are entertained during these crazy times. You can order toys to be delivered or for safe pick-up during their designated hours. You can still reach out to them for their expert opinions on what toys would be best to keep your kids stimulated and learning at the same time.
Meghan is a pediatric occupational therapist in New York City since 2001. She has spent the last 17 years as a private practice pediatric occupational therapist working with some of the greatest kids and families. She is part of the amazing team of therapists at Heads Up Therapy on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In addition to her private practice work, she is a founding member of The Meeting House, a recreational based after school program for children who need support to gain social confidence and success. She is also the director of TMH Juniors, a program geared towards children 4-7 years old.