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:

Appreciation(1) Painting(1) babies(5) Professionalisation(4) Dr. Emer Ring(1) ECCE(5) mushrooms(1) learning(14) Giraffe(1) Norway(2) Scents(1) Running(1) relationships(11) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Seas Suas(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Afghanistan(1) Inclusion(1) journey(1) Exit interview(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Awards(2) curiosity(3) Positivity(1) Snack Time(1) Academics(1) Maths(4) Queues(1) Shapes(1) Through the looking glass(1) Maynooth(1) Thank you(1) Decision Making(1) San Minia(1) Fantasy play(1) Map(1) AsIAm(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Pen green(1) experience(1) Behaviour(3) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Brain(1) Technology(2) Line-ups(1) blog(27) Vietnam(1) science(3) bonds(1) Settling in(1) Trade union(1) educating(1) Sustainable(1) SPICE Framework(1) Learning Story Awards(1) risk(2) INTO(1) Administrative Burden(1) Interactions(1) Learning Stories Award(2) PIP(1) Jenga(1) worries(1) preschool(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Environment(1) Playschool(1) respect(4) Adoption(1) Gardening(1) College(1) Fabric(1) parents(5) Names(1) Upcycling(1) Research Seminar(1) listening(1) Budget 2018(1) Wilenski(1) Policy(2) IGL(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Inter-generational(1) Thanks(1) Plants(1) trust(2) dogs(1) grandchild(1) ECEC(1) STEM(2) ERASMUS+(3) Nutrition(1) Trade Unions(1) Magnavacchi(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) community(4) Mark Twain(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Syria(1) Recycling(2) memories(1) Exclusion(1) Kerry(1) Sequins(1) Spiders(1) RIE philosphy(1) Degree(1) feisty(1) Confident(1) Halloween(2) Rising to the Challenge(2) National Holiday(1) Children's Rights(1) Playdough(1) transitions(8) Oireachtas(1) Vertical grouping(1) educarer(1) TOY Programme(1) Time Out(1) Limerick(1) DCYA(3) Advocacy(1) Decisions(1) emotions(2) Online(1) Meet the Members(1) Learning Story(1) Consent(1) Cognitive development(1) United Nations(1) Death(1) Engineering(2) Impact(1) outdoor space(3) Glitter(2) Childhood(1) Teamwork(1) overhear(1) Event Guide(1) refugees(1) Engineers Week(1) ICBN(1) First 5 strategy(1) Interests(1) Xbox(1) Albert Einstein(1) MA(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Love(2) Smiles(1) play stories(1) Lego(2) Book Club(2) dublin(2) development(6) Music(1) Iraq(1) routine(2) Magic(1) Mud kitchens(1) science week(2) Arithmetic(1) Síolta(82) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) NAEYC(1) CIT(1) EECERA 2016(1) Self-regulation(1) Supernanny(1) Bereavement(1) Performing(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Learning Stories(7) Imagination(2) Visitors(1) Family(1) Identity and Belonging(3) Blocks(1) play(27) Snacks(1) Identity(4) Training(2) UNCRC(1) Eritrea(1) Prexit(1) Feeding(1) Loss(1) Traditions(2) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Plastic(1) Thinking(1) Mayo(1) Capable(1) Games(1) Laughter(1) Patterns(1) Exploring(1) Empathy(1) Rituals(1) Meal time(1) education(2) Margy Whalley(1) Photographs(1) Funding(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Wendy Lee(2) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Party(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Touch(1) documentation(2) Traffic Lights(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Role play(1) Childcare(1) friendships(1) linc(1) Masterclass(2) Culture(2) Frustrations(1) Budget 2019(2) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) toddlers(3) Treasure(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) NCCA(1) Children(1) Wonder(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) GDPR(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Mixed age groups(2) story time(1) Quality(3) Twitter(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Self-Esteem(1) stories(2) Graduation(1) Facebook(1) Obesity(1) Sustainability(3) Care-giving routines(1) eating(1) Kids Own(1) UN(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Self Help Skills(1) National Awards 2018(2) Flowers(1) Early Years Educators(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) Penguins(1) Time(1) Pobal(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(1) Santa(2) communication(4) Deirdre Rogers(1) Magda Gerber(1) Síolta QAP(1) Treasure Chest(1) Learning journals(1) reading(4) Affordability(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Kilkenny(1) Recycle(1) Drawing(2) Reggio(1) Inter-generational learning(1) Montessori(2) Aldo Fortunati(4) outdoor play(6) Children's Research Network(1) Titles(1) Wrapping paper(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Winter(1) Family wall(1) Maths Week(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Snakes(1) Graduate(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Cork(1) AIM(1) dining experiences(1) Scéalta Blog(66) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Leargas(1) Christmas Creativity(2) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Sculptures(1) Independence(1) scéalta(20) Competent(1) Easter(1) pets(1) Sport(1) Health(1) Valentine's Day(3) Community involvement(1) Inspired Practice Award(4) Orla Kenny(1) Arts(1) Mealtimes(1) animals(2) research(5) Maths Week Ireland(1) risk assessment(1) ears(1) risky play(2) Craft(1) Maria Montessori(1) Malaguzzi(1) Biting(1) Aistear(87) Early Learning and Care(1) Care routines(1) San Miniato(3) Mathematicians(1) Our Little Seed(1) Favouritism(1) Light table(1) Belonging(3) Certificate(1) First 5(1) Mount Everest(1) Educators(1) food(1) MECPI(1) under 3's(3) Art(6) role playing(1) Qualifications(1) Builders(1) early childhood educator(1) Storytelling(1) Weather(1) books(4) Creative(1) Shoes(1) Irish(1) University(1) ReCreate(2) Trigonometry(1) Inspirational(2) Primary School(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Awards 2018(3) Trick or treat(1) conversations(1) outdoors(3) social media(1) Autism(2) EM Standing(1) dining(1) early years research(1) curriculum(5) Leprechauns(1) Wesco(1) meals(3) Gratitude(1) Ceremony(1) christmas(8) Grief(1) Investment(1) baby room(1) Window(1) Italy(1) Creativity(4) Well-Being(3) Story(1) National Pyjama Day(1) planning(1) Celebrations(4) Frosty the Snowman(1) budget(1) Routines(1) CPD(1) Home Corner(1) Sweets(1) Access and Inclusion Model(1) Potential(1) environments(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) The Jelly King(1) Communicating(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Motor neuron disease(1) interacting(2) Socioemotional development(1) listen(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine