Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Same Thing, in a Different Way


Tuesday 17 April 2018

‘Let’s make playdough’ is a popular sentence with many children. The simplicity of the flour, oil, water and colouring continues to amaze children each time it is made. Each time I engage in making playdough with a child or a group of children, the process appears wonderous, this is evident through their curiosity as they work with the ingredients. Last week I was spending time with my godchild. Her concentration of getting the flour into the bowl, and each time she tries to get more balanced onto the spoon. The weight of the water jug as she is pouring it in, and she carefully watches the splashes of colour add to the flour. At each stage, she puts her hands in and is exploring it in her own little world. The feel of the flour pressed under her palms, the sensation of it running through her fingers. This week however, it was different, she chose to add the oil last. And wow, the experience for her was different to all the other times. She carefully watched the oil fall into the bowl holding it steadily. She looked in amazement, as it is sitting on top of the other ingredients. Giving a curious look towards me, she chooses to put her fingers into the bowl. ‘It’s cold’ she says, as she lifts her fingers with the red mixture underneath falling from her little hands. The curiosity and imagination of her exploring three-year-old mind spent over 30 minutes playing with the mixture as it was. As I sat with her, I could not help but think of the learning that has spontaneously happened here. This is something we do regularly, but this texture is new to her.

Showing the rich learning that happens when open ended materials, time and space are provided – the learning is endless and how interests can easily be extended. For the afternoon, this ‘playdough’ became food which was fed to her teddy, it became poop as she explored her recent toilet training, it became a treasure hunt as she added in small figures to find as she exclaimed ‘arrrggg matey’.

What was fascinating though, was the one thing it didn’t become was playdough! Or playdough as we know it - it was slimy, greasy and liquid. But for her, this was what she made and it was something important in this moment. Afterwards, I was thinking that how we so often become overly focused on the end-product of the playdough, we often overlook these play experiences in getting to the end. We know playing with playdough is enjoyable for children, but more importantly the making of it, so it has become a key activity for many early years services on a weekly basis. However, how much time do we allow for the making of it, in comparison to the ‘playing’ with the final product? Next time, I would love for you to set aside more time for the making of it, the playdough will be there tomorrow, it is only made once and that is where the most fun, and learning is for children.



Lorraine O’ Connor works as an Early Years Specialist with Early Childhood Ireland. She has an MA in Social Studies and BA in Early Childhood Studies. Lorraine's areas of interest are play, children’s rights and movement. And she is continually intrigued by the playfulness and curiosity of children’s stories through play.

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Early Childhood Care and Education(1) National Holiday(1) DCYA(3) Twitter(1) UNCRC(1) Independence(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Research Seminar(1) social media(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Thinking(1) Weather(1) Sport(1) Health(1) pets(1) Time Out(1) Recycle(1) Names(1) Time(1) Vertical grouping(1) reading(4) Identity and Belonging(2) Administrative Burden(1) Lego(2) meals(2) Vietnam(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Winter(1) story time(1) feisty(1) Maths Week(1) bonds(1) Builders(1) blog(25) Irish(1) community(4) Supernanny(1) Facebook(1) Easter(1) Limerick(1) Ceremony(1) experience(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Graduation(1) Death(1) environments(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) curiosity(3) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Penguins(1) AsIAm(1) CPD(1) Confident(1) Map(1) parents(5) documentation(2) Engineers Week(1) Snakes(1) Sustainability(2) Affordability(1) science week(2) Children's Research Network(1) Home Corner(1) Magnavacchi(1) Fabric(1) Malaguzzi(1) Quality(3) Creative(1) Routines(1) baby room(1) risk assessment(1) dining experiences(1) under 3's(3) Early Learning and Care(1) Kids Own(1) refugees(1) Magda Gerber(1) College(1) Potential(1) Meal time(1) Masterclass(2) Síolta(77) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Learning journals(1) routine(2) Upcycling(1) Xbox(1) Síolta QAP(1) Advocacy(1) Line-ups(1) Childhood(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) AIM(1) Norway(2) Environment(1) Maria Montessori(1) SPICE Framework(1) CIT(1) Grief(1) Gratitude(1) listen(1) Impact(1) NAEYC(1) The Lullaby Book(1) scéalta(15) Mayo(1) Identity(4) Loss(1) Snack Time(1) The Jelly King(1) Trick or treat(1) GDPR(1) Professionalisation(4) Kerry(1) Light table(1) Giraffe(1) Decisions(1) Autism(2) play(26) Exploring(1) Cognitive development(1) Playschool(1) Trade Unions(1) planning(1) Touch(1) preschool(1) ECCE(5) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) learning(14) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Family wall(1) curriculum(5) educarer(1) Care-giving routines(1) Painting(1) Consent(1) Care routines(1) EECERA 2016(1) Belonging(3) Celebrations(4) Treasure Chest(1) Running(1) journey(1) Laughter(1) NCCA(1) RIE philosphy(1) Scents(1) Training(2) stories(2) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Budget 2018(1) Inspired Practice Award(3) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) conversations(1) Book Club(2) Cork(1) San Minia(1) Online(1) Self-Esteem(1) Music(1) outdoors(3) Interests(1) Competent(1) science(3) Children's Rights(1) Valentine's Day(2) Community involvement(1) Well-Being(3) outdoor space(3) Policy(2) eating(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Through the looking glass(1) Growing up in Ireland(1) Self Help Skills(1) Behaviour(3) Mark Twain(1) listening(1) Arts(1) Wrapping paper(1) Pobal(1) emotions(2) Emergent Curriculum(1) Educators(1) books(4) Awards(2) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Maynooth(1) Santa(2) Drawing(2) relationships(11) Scéalta Blog(60) Magic(1) development(5) linc(1) early childhood educator(1) Wonder(1) First 5(1) Favouritism(1) Positivity(1) Traditions(2) PIP(1) Seas Suas(1) overhear(1) Learning Story Awards(1) Glitter(2) Storytelling(1) Interactions(1) trust(2) Visitors(1) Mud kitchens(1) Performing(1) Syria(1) dogs(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Socioemotional development(1) Brain(1) Love(1) Plants(1) Snacks(1) Reggio(1) Learning Stories Award(2) Gardening(1) Oireachtas(1) Mathematicians(1) role playing(1) Awards 2018(3) early years research(1) Ariana Pucci(1) educating(1) MA(1) education(2) Inclusion(1) transitions(8) Montessori(2) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) memories(1) Meet the Members(1) Titles(1) dining(1) Orla Kenny(1) Sweets(1) Capable(1) Sequins(1) INTO(1) Access and Inclusion Model(1) Degree(1) friendships(1) Learning Stories(7) Sculptures(1) animals(2) Halloween(2) Culture(2) Self-regulation(1) Children(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(1) ears(1) First 5 strategy(1) dublin(2) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Nuturing interactions(1) Window(1) Eritrea(1) MECPI(1) Funding(1) interacting(2) Margy Whalley(1) Settling in(1) communication(4) Family(1) National Awards 2018(2) Treasure(1) Budget 2019(2) Blocks(1) Mount Everest(1) babies(5) research(4) Playdough(1) Adoption(1) Biting(1) Flowers(1) play stories(1) Engineering(2) Shoes(1) Queues(1) budget(1) Wesco(1) Technology(2) Pen green(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) outdoor play(5) Games(1) Certificate(1) Iraq(1) ReCreate(2) Special Needs Assistants(1) Graduate(1) Academics(1) Investment(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) worries(1) christmas(8) EM Standing(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Leargas(1) Craft(1) Feeding(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Italy(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Exclusion(1) Thank you(1) Kilkenny(1) Bereavement(1) Fantasy play(1) Creativity(4) Maths(3) Childcare(1) Party(1) Event Guide(1) Exit interview(1) Primary School(1) Story(1) Our Little Seed(1) Recycling(1) Frustrations(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Traffic Lights(1) Imagination(2) Early Years Educators(1) Sustainable(1) risky play(2) Decision Making(1) risk(2) Qualifications(1) Empathy(1) Art(6) ERASMUS+(3) ECEC(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) San Miniato(3) Mixed age groups(2) Wilenski(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Aistear(82) Afghanistan(1) Spiders(1) STEM(2) toddlers(3) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) mushrooms(1) Learning Story(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Prexit(1) Wendy Lee(2) Jenga(1) Photographs(1) respect(4) Role play(1) Communicating(1) University(1) Leprechauns(1) ICBN(1) Trade union(1) Inspirational(2) grandchild(1) Maths Week Ireland(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine