Do Preschoolers Learn by Playing with Puzzles and Play Dough?
As preschool teachers who use play, including puzzles, play dough, and art, as the foundation of our preschool lessons, parents often ask why playtime and free choice are so important in their young child’s life.
Prepare to be amazed at the simple yet profound ways your preschooler will build essential skills putting together an “A is for Apple” puzzle with their school mates. Keep reading to discover just a few of the ways three fun activities – puzzles, our drama center, and play dough – are valuable learning tools for your preschoolers and kindergartener. Enjoy a photo gallery of our preschoolers and kindergarteners learning through play and free choice.
Puzzles are an essential learning tool that develops future math skills, language, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and social skills.
Puzzles involve a trial and error process using a lot of hand and eye manipulation.
Puzzles come in various themes – alphabet, animals, food, transportation, etc. These themes help develop recognition of letters, numbers, and vocabulary.
Puzzles enhance and promote cooperation. Children learn communication skills by interacting with each other when putting a puzzle together. When doing puzzles, children also learn to provide support for each other and help with frustration.
Fine Motor Development
Puzzles require grasping, pinching, placing in slots, or putting two pieces together.
Setting a goal, achieving that goal, and overcoming the challenges along the way help build self-esteem. Puzzles provide these steps in developing self-esteem.
Puzzles provide problem-solving skills, goal-setting skills, and reasoning skills. Puzzles can teach shapes, sizes, and patterns, even lengths and widths.
Dramatic Play Centers
Dramatic play centers develop cooperation, planning, organizing, problem-solving, language skills, and motor skills. Popular dramatic centers themes are playhouses, grocery stores, offices, flower shops, music studios, and post offices. Kids like to play at and model what they see you doing.
Communicating effectively and appropriately with others and incorporating print into daily activities.
Dramatic centers teach sharing, making friends, creativity, understanding, and respect for others.
Fine Motor Development
Dramatic centers teach life skills, such as turning knobs, buttoning, and zipping.
A dramatic play center encourages expressing emotions appropriately and helps the child to recognize they are themselves regardless of how they are dressed or who they pretend to be.
Dramatic centers provide problem-solving skills and reasoning skills. These centers can teach shapes, sizes, patterns, lengths, and weights.
Play dough strengthens muscles, develops hand-eye coordination, language skills, social skills, imagination, creativity, and math skills, and can be therapeutic.
Working with play dough develops the muscles used for pencil and scissor control.
Using cookie cutters and other instruments develops the child’s hand-eye coordination.
Children develop vocabulary by describing the texture of the dough and their creations. They can make letters with the play dough and learn to spell their name and other words.
Children learn cooperation and sharing. They learn to value and respect others’ work and ideas.
Imagination and Creativity
Play dough creations can range from food items (pizza, spaghetti, cookies, etc.) to snowmen to space creatures. The possibilities are endless. When a child creates something with play dough, it boosts their confidence and sense of pride.
Children develop the concept of shapes, sizes, weights, and lengths. They can count, match and sort with their creations
Working with play dough has a calming effect. The act of squeezing and rolling the play dough can relieve stress. The soft, pliable play dough texture relaxes the child. Play dough can stimulate conversation with a child. Using play dough relaxes the child enough they will start talking and opening up to you.
Use these recipes to make your play dough with and for your preschooler.
Puzzles and play dough are not the only amazing learning tools in your preschooler’s toy chest and classroom. Building blocks, flashcards, crayons, stamps, cutting and pasting, and countless other toys and crafts help children build skills, dexterity, creative thinking, and a zest for learning that will help them excel in life.