Playdough is something that I used to love playing with as a child because it is so flexible and you can make and do so many things with it. Also, my year’s work in a nursery made me see what opportunities you have to link playdough into learning, especially with playdough mats like this one.
Therefore when we were asked to do a two minute science demonstration for one of our university classes, playdough shaped bells started ringing in my head thinking – how can I relate playdough to science? Turns out it was not actually that difficult to find out how playdough and science is related since playdough is actually a forced chemical reaction when you mix all the ingredients together. The recipe that I will ask my peers in the class to follow for making the playdough is from a fantastic website called The Royal Institution and the section I landed on took me straight to playdough making as well as other inventive ideas to get children more into science. They have videos too explaining what the activities consist of, questions to get the children thinking and children’s reactions to the activities.
So as the video explains the main purpose of having salt in the playdough is to form a matrix (the surrounding substance within which something else originates) around the flour particles when it has dried. Also, when the food colouring and the water are mixed they become a solution, which when adding oil to this it floats on the top of the solution because of the particles that are in oil. When the water has dried out and the mixture has been kneaded, it leaves the salt behind, which cements all the flour particles together making what we know of as playdough.
Each year group is different and obviously nursery aged children and P7’s will have different reasons for playing with playdough in class and speaking from experience the older children are the less interested they are in play dough and the more interested they are in playstations. Hopefully, if I do this experiment with a class of my own i’ll be able to make it age and stage appropriate and fun, because I think playdough is great fun! When I have done my experiment with my peers I will be sure to put up pictures and an evaluation of how my experiment went. Until then please add comments as to how you would use playdough in the classroom/nursery?