Need a fun play dough activity your little learners will absolutely love? This tooth activity is the perfect addition to a community helper unit or dental health theme in your preschool or pre-k classroom. Your little learners will have a blast exploring and creating with this hands-on dental health play dough activity!
Dental Health Play Dough
You might think that this just looks like lots of messy fun, but did you know that playing with play dough has many educational benefits?
When you provide your little learners with daily opportunities to use play dough, they’ll develop important creativity and fine motor skills in a fun, hands-on way. The simple act of rolling dough and pressing cookie cutters and other items into soft dough also has many educational benefits for young children. You can find a list of educational benefits of playing with dough at the end of this post.
Dental Health Play Dough Supplies
Here are some supplies you may consider using for setting up a fun and inviting dental health play dough invitation in your own classroom.
- Play Dough (here’s our favorite homemade playdough recipe)
- Rolling Pins
- Tooth Cookie Cutter
- Biggie Beads (these are larger than the tiny pony beads)
- Chip and Dip Tray
- Tooth Necklaces
- Play-Doh Dentist Kit
These are just suggestions, you can use whatever supplies you prefer or have available.
Setting Up a Dentist Play Dough Tray
Start by setting up your tooth play dough invitation on a chip and dip tray, you can usually find these trays at your local dollar store. While these trays may look pretty, they’re not a requirement, you can use any tray or flat surface you have available.
Play dough invitations are designed to be open-ended experiences, there are no right or wrong ways to use the materials. Get started by inviting your little learners to explore the materials on the tray.
As your kids begin to build and create with the play dough and materials on the tray, their creativity and imaginations will take over. When young children are engaged and using their creativity and imagination, their attention spans are being expanded naturally. Could your kids use a little help with expanding their attention spans?
Teeth Play Dough Activity
What do you do if your kids want to use some of the materials and not others, or if they want to use them all? The answer is simple, you let them choose!
This is an open-ended activity with no set expectations. If your kids don’t want to use the beads or the tooth molds in the dough, no problem. It’s all about the process of creating with the materials, rather than making Pinterest perfect mouths and teeth. You’ll be surprised at how creative they can be when given a chance!
Educational Benefits of Playing with Dough
Playing with play dough has many educational benefits for young children, here’s a list of some benefits for you below.
Creativity – Children use their imaginations to create, rather than follow a pre-determined template or sample. Imaginative children are more likely to become problem solvers later in life.
Communication – Peer-to-peer conversations are key to oral language development. When engaged in play, children talk with their friends and classmates informally, in a relaxed environment which helps build important language skills. Oral language development is directly related to reading scores later.
Small Group or Independent Practice – Dough is perfect for your small group activities, or for exploring independently.
Fine Motor Skills – Rolling the dough and and placing small objects, like the beads, in the dough will help your kids develop important fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are necessary for writing later.