Feb 12, 2014

Toddler Art Class: Playdough Monsters

Stuff to stick into sticky stuff is surprisingly entertaining!

Art Project: Playdough Monsters (inspired by The Artful Parent)
play dough (I made my own (recipe below), but commercial play dough works fine)
wiggle eyes
any other odds & ends you have on hand -- buttons, sequins, pipe cleaners, straws...

 cover art Go away, big green monster! / Emberley, Ed
Music to make art by: 
 cover art When I get little [sound recording] / Dog on Fleas

Prep work (optional):  make this no-cook dough
What Kids Do:  squish it in their fingers

 Poke a few things into it:
 Poke a few more things into it:
 Find a few open spots to poke more things into...
 Yep.  That's just about full.
 Also, it was fun to bury things completely in the dough (difficult to photograph...)
 And make tunnels with your fingers:
 And these weirdo metal discs from a science surplus center were a big hit for making circles on the dough and cutting out "cookies."
 This artist really wanted to incorporate one of my business cards into his sculpture.  I thought this was pretty inventive:
 This artist was thrilled when he discovered he could poke a stick all the way through his playdough ball.  It then became a "lollipop" for awhile and he did some excellent pretend licking!
 Lots of kids made faces.  Some were small:
 Others were whole bodies:
 (3D and 2D)

 This lucky playdough creature got to engage in a conversation with its creator (the artist was generous enough to provide both sides of the dialogue):
 Then... the difficult part.  I needed to use the clay for subsequent classes, so I asked participants to also dismantle their monsters when they were done playing.  I thought there'd be more resistance to this concept, but the kids delighted in seeing the circle imprints made on their dough and also seemed to just enjoy deconstructing their monsters almost as much as creating them!

This project kept most of the kids happily engaged for a looong time and most parents ended up having to peel their kids away from the playdough with promises to replicate the project at home.  Everyone was surprised at how much more interested the kids became in playdough with just the simple addition of a few extra bits and bobs.

Hindsight Tip:  Although I had no problems with these issues, you might want to remind the adults that the dough has gluten and have a gluten-free option available if necessary AND you might want to point out that many of the odds and ends might be swallow-able and to keep a close eye on kids who are still likely to want to eat wiggle eyes.  I'm guessing they'd pass through, but that would make for a very disconcerting diaper...

Variations to try: 
Try using several different colors of playdough.  Instead of calling them monsters, you could easily do this with white playdough and build snowmen or with blue playdough and call it the ocean...

Adult Challenge:  Ask open-ended questions, like "What would you like to try next?" or "Tell me about what you made." instead of directing kids ("Let's put the monster's eyes here.")

Related App:  Go Away, Big Green Monster is available as an app for both Apple and Android markets (also available on Google Play)!

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