Make a gallery of different play dough shapes for your child to use in their creations before building along side them.
I used to sit with Boogie and build along side her. From “doggy” to “cat” I would build what she asked while she attempted to do the same. Each time I would feel bad because I could make an animal or jet plane way better than she could. I also noticed that she would lump something together and call it a shape without much effort. Then one day I spent my energy building different shapes she could then incorporate into an idea. It worked wonders.
I now roll long tubes, cut cylinders, and form balls creating a gallery of items that she can choose from. These are also the things she has the hardest time doing at 2 years. I do the hard work for her and she can build.
She turned this collection of tubes, cylinders and purple discs on the left into the creation below, what she called a “rain puddle”. I didn’t ask her to make a puddle or give her any idea of what it should look like. I think the access to materials made a difference. This way of playing play dough also took up way more time. We played together at least 10 minutes more that when we built side by side.
You too can build from these gallery pieces and have a conversation about “what did you build?’ given the same set of input materials. I opted to make jewelry with the items above. She wasn’t impressed but I thought it was fun. (Isn’t rolling out the longest string you can the most fun thing to do with play dough?)
Give this a shot next time you are working with play dough. Build a range of support pieces into a gallery and see what he or she comes up with!