This morning I planned an Autumn Playdough activity using the items we have been collecting on our walks and the playdough that Little “L” and I made yesterday.
I placed 3 lumps of the Cinnamon scented dough on the table and placed lots of natural items in the centre of the table. 
The plan for this activity was to give the children a different way to explore the items they have collected and I added in the extra element of scent to stimulate other senses while they played. I have noted in past observations that some of the children would benefit from more finger muscle building activities so this also comes as a follow up to this observation.
All of the children started off by touching the dough. They said it was cold. No one seemed to notice that it smelt nice at this point. Little “I” gathered up some conkers and pushed them in to her flattened dough.

Little “X” followed suit and used a finger to push each item further in to his dough. He really liked the Acorn cups.

Little “R” started on a much more 3D structure.  She added larger items and made them stand vertically on her dough. Feathers, sticks and pine comes all standing up straight like soldiers!

Little “X” watched with interest and then added tall sticks to his dough. He told me they were trees and then a Castle!

He added a walnut and said it was a Princess in the Castle! There was a Dragon coming to get her!…..

I asked “Who is going to save her?”
Little “R” said “The Fireman!”
“The Dragons coming…. quickly!” shouted little “X”

Little “I” carried on building her pictures on the playdough. taking some bits off and adding new bits. She was listening to “X”‘s story and said that we needed Princesses and Dragons! I took a few moments to pop to the playroom and see what I could find.

Little “X” used a lump of wood for a Dragon. He was animated and excited. Telling his story and acting it out with his props.
“Quickly… the Dragon is coming R, Look!”

I brought him in some possible Princesses and he took a moment to see which one he preferred.

The Spanish dancer got the job!
“Here comes the Dragon!” I said, using the lump of wood.
“The Princess is hiding! in the Castle!” said “X”

I was careful not to actually catch the Princess and after a few minutes I put the Dragon down. That was the turning point…… “X” picked it up and brought it down on top of the Princess in her castle!
“oh no… he got her!”

Little “I” and “R” were watching this story and laughing and cheering us on. Little “I” decided she needed a Dragon and Princess as well. We used leaves to make her a shelter and she placed her Princess inside.

I suddenly remembered our soft toy Dragons and ran off to get them. Little “X” took one of them and re-started his story. This time it was more for his own benefit and much quieter. He became lost in his imaginary world.

Little “I” chose our Welsh Dragon and made him some food out of playdough. Maybe so that he would be full up and not want to eat her Princess?

The poor Spanish Princess was having a really rough time back at her Castle….

The Dragon realised he could fly and took several sweeping dives at her.

Little “R” had gone quiet for a while and started to push the dough against her nose…..
“What’s that smell Pip?”
“Can you smell something? I asked.
“The dough smells” she told me while sniffing it.
“Is it a nice smell or a nasty smell?” I asked.
“It’s a nice smell. Is it yummy?”
“It does smell yummy doesn’t it. But the dough is salty so it won’t taste very nice. You can smell the Cinnamon that “L” and I put in it when we made it yesterday.”

Suddenly “R” realized that the dough could stick to her nose….. and then she tried other parts of her face…. even her chin.

Little “I” had been trying to make a Dragon out of playdough but was becoming frustrated with the head falling off. We moulded a new head together and I helped her push it on. I also showed her how we could make a tail and scales on his back by pushing the dough in to a ridge and then in to a tail at the end.
This really helped her to work on that pinching movement between her thumb and forefingers. Working the muscles that we use to hold a pen for writing.

She added Acorn cups for eyes and then added bits to the head telling me they were wings and ears.

Little “R” asked for the fairy Princesses that we had used in the garden so I popped back to the playroom for them.
She spent a while trying to balance the man on the ladies shoulders.
“He is having a piggy back!”

All three children wanted some of the “pretty dancing ladies” so between them they shared them out. They did a good job of sharing them fairly and giving each other the chance to choose a figure they liked.

“X” found a Prince to come and save his new princesses from the big bad Dragon!

This activity went from being an adult led activity to a child led activity. My objectives were still achieved. the children still worked their finger muscles by using the dough, but it became a much better play experience for them than I could have planed. They didn’t spend as much time focused on the natural items but became total engrossed in a wonderful world of make believe and story telling. Each child was interested, motivated and immersed in their play. The level of concentration and time spent on this activity was amazing. Little “X” shared his thoughts and ideas with others and drew them in to his make believe world. He used plots from stories he already knew. Classic fairy tale story lines. changing things to fit his ideas. Like the first Princess being gobbled up by the dragon. Each child had their own ideas about how they wanted to build their playdough art. Some pushed the items in to the dough and kept it flat while others worked up and made theirs more 3D. Little “I” showed interest and enjoyment in what her friends were doing but continued in her own plans of building a playdough Dragon. 

Today’s play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas
  • Communication and Language
  • Understanding the World
  • Personal, social and emotional 
  • literacy
  • Physical Development
  • Expressive Art and Design

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