Making things from play dough is easier for little children than drawing. They start making things out of sand the first time they play in a sand box. Playing with play dough (clay) is really helpful in developing kids motor skills and their understanding of shapes and volumes.
2-3 year olds Show your kid some simple movements for making a ball or a "snake" or a button.
1. Make a house for a little piglet (or any other small toy that you have). Show kids how to make "logs" from the dough and make them into walls. After the house is finished, put a small toy inside.
2. Make a caterpillar. Show a child how to make a ball from a piece of play-dough. Let him make a few balls and then put them together. For eyes you can use pepper corns or little pieces of dark dough.
3. Make a snowman using three balls of different sizes.
4. Make " food" for a favorite toy. Give your child some plastic or disposable plates to "serve" the dinner on. Remind him that it's toy food that people can't eat.
3-4 year olds
1. For Easter. Carrots for the bunny.
Ask a child what bunnies like to eat. Make some carrots from play-dough.
2.Lets make a donut.
Show a child how to make a donut shape. Make some donuts for a favorite toy.
3. For St. Patrick Day. Pot of Gold.
From a ball of a play-dough a child can make a pot by pushing into a ball with his big fingers and forming walls of the pot. Fill the pot with some yellow play dough gold.
4. Play-dough necklace.
Let a child make a lot of play dough balls. Put them on a thin shoe lace.
5. Yellow Chicken. (click image for detailed instructions).
6. Play dough Bunny. (click image for detailed instructions).
4-5 year olds
1. Harvesting fruits and veggies. Make a bucket from some play-dough (see the "pot of gold" project). Show your child some fruits and veggies of different shapes and colors. Ask your child to make those fruits and veggies from a piece of colored play dough, while paying attention to their different shapes. Put them into the bucket.
2. Play-dough Easter Basket. (click image for detailed instructions).
3. For Mother or Father's day. A cup to hold pens or pencils.
Show your child how to make a tall cup out of clay: make 6-7 clay "snakes", cut them down to the same size, form them into rings, make a round bottom, put rings in a pile on the bottom of a cup, and smooth the cup. Let your child decorate it with whatever he likes from peppercorns to beans, or beads, or my favorite - seashells.
4. Christmas Tree.
Help your child make 3-4 conical shapes out of a green piece of play-dough. Stack them up on top of each other. Decorate your tree with anything he likes.
5. My teddy bear.
Talk with your child about how a bear is different from other animals.
6. A Lizard.
Help your child to make a lizard out of one piece of a play dough. Then suggest him to decorate it with small pieces of different colors or if it's made from a home made play-dough he can color it after it dries.
Homemade play dough It's 3 times cheaper than a store bought and not that difficult to make. Very useful for big kids gatherings. The quality is great and it stores perfectly.
In a large saucepan combine:
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups salt
3 cups water
2 tblsp canola oil
1 tblsp cream of tartar
(To color your dough dissolve a few drops of food color in water).
Mix well and then cook over medium to low heat until the dough comes away from the walls of the pan and forms a ball. Cool and then knead few times.
Store in a tightly closed container.
When it dries it becomes hard like a clay.