My son loves learning boxes and activities because they are just play to him, but I love them because they are learning while playing. I came up with a few learning activities with play dough and he is really enjoying doing something during play dough time verses just cutting the play dough (yes, that is what he mostly does, learning how to use a knife, scissors and pizza cutter – of course, all toys).
Learning Shapes with Play Dough
I started this activity with several colored play dough rolled out, and the plastic shapes in front of him. I would ask him which cutter was a ‘triangle', ‘rectangle' and so on, to know what he already knew and it surprised me!
Once we were ready to start the learning shapes with play dough, I would ask him to make me a ‘purple triangle'. He would find the triangle and then cut in the purple play dough. This is a great opportunity to work on colors if your child hasn't mastered them yet, but I also loved that he had to process TWO details for this exercise: find the triangle AND the purple play dough.
As he was doing the learning activity, I was explaining to him why we called a ‘triangle' a ‘triangle' – because it has 3 sides. Then an ‘octagon' has eight sides. He counted them to be sure I was correct and his smile was always assuring me that I knew my shapes.
He struggled to identify the difference between a ‘square' and a ‘rectangle', so helping him look at it closer really helped him see that a ‘square' has four exact sizes, where a ‘rectangle' only has four sides. Reminding him that a square can be a rectangle, because it has four sides, a rectangle can never be a square because they need to be exact same size to be a square.
At the end of our activity, I would evaluate how much he remembered and asked him questions like these:
- What color is the circle?
- How many sizes does the octagon have?
- Which one is the octagon?
- What shape has four equal sizes?
- What do we call the green shape?
He didn't know the answer to all the questions, but I would give him the answers if he needed help and he would repeat it. Over time with this activity, he will know not only the shapes but the definitions of what they are and this will help him in math.