Does your child like to throw things? I know my toddler does. Well, challenge them to a game of play dough basketball!
I tried this yesterday after making a fresh batch of orange scented play dough using this basic recipe (and I used 2 packets of orange Kool Aid as both the color and scent, rather than liquid food coloring).
Play dough basketball was a fun way to allow my little guy to throw things without being destructive or getting into trouble!
Throwing is an important skill for the overall development of motor, visual, and coordination skills. It begins around 13 months with “flinging” forward, then progresses to throwing under or overhand around 15-18 months, then develops into throwing toward and eventually into a target about three feet away by the time they are 16-20 months old.
But encouraging kids to throw things can be dangerous, especially once they realize they can throw anything they can get their little hands on!
Play dough basketball is a safe(r) and easily accessible way to encourage throwing toward a target and it’s great because you can make the ball any size you want. If you cook a batch of homemade play dough, you’ll have about a pound or more of play dough to work with.
Because the play dough has some weight to it — as opposed to soft foam balls — it provides more sensory feedback to your kiddo’s muscles and joints, which helps them get a better feel for how much force they must use in order to throw the ball where they want it to go. This is especially true if they play with a big rolled-up piece of play dough that requires two hands just like a basketball.
Once all the play dough is in the target (such as a bucket), they can engage in some “heavy work” by carrying the bucket to a different part of the room or dumping out all the play dough balls to get ready for Round Two. This is especially helpful for kids who really seek out this type of heavy muscle input in order to keep their bodies calm.
After your game of play dough basketball is finished, sit down and engage in some fun fine motor play (10 great ideas here) or simply seal up the dough in an airtight container and save it for later.