One of our biggest hits so far was our Play Dough Apple Orchard invitation.
We’ve been talking a lot about apples lately and will be going apple picking soon so I’ve been trying to come up with some apple themed projects for the little guy. I made two batches of play dough for our play dough apple orchard. Green and Brown. I scented them with cinnamon and cloves taking inspiration from this post from my friend Allison over at Learn Play Imagine. Think mulling spices. Mmmm… seriously, this play dough smells so good! Then I gathered up a little wooden bucket and some red beads to use for apples. I had some colored pasta wheels hanging around so I threw those in there too for a variety of “apples” along with another little bowl. I set them all out in this little basket along with an empty tray ready for when C got up from his nap.
To get started I constructed the first apple tree and stuck on one red bead to show him what I was thinking. He rolled with it, sticking in a couple more beads…er… apples… before deciding to just dump the whole bucket of apples onto the tree.
He played that way for quite awhile just putting the apples on the tree, “picking” them, and putting them back in the bucket. We even made up a counting song about picking the apples which he kept asking me to sing over and over again. Eventually he tried making a tree of his own.
I made a play dough letter “A” to throw in a little letter learning. He’s not one content to just sit and go through letters so I try to throw opportunities for learning them where I can. As I was rolling the play dough to make the letter A the Mister decided it looked like a snake. See the snake on the tree there…. (I’m pretty sure there’s a whole other lesson building here….snake… apple tree…anyway).
Eventually he abandoned the apple tree and started making ‘houses’ for the apples out of the brown play dough. This somehow inevitably led to his trucks. All things, given enough time with this child, will eventually lead to trucks. In the end we had trucks on a road with a mountain. Not bad for an afternoon of play.
Did I mention all the while he would keep picking up a handful of play dough and sniffing it? It was so cute. He really enjoyed that added sensory element. I will be scenting more sensory materials from now on. This play dough invitation held his attention for nearly an hour with me by his side. There was lots of learning going on. Language, numbers, letters, a good discussion about apples, fine motor skills, you name it. I’m looking forward to more of our afternoon “projects” this fall.