10 Reasons to Use Play-doh in Speech Therapy

Ten Reasons to Use Play-doh in Speech Therapy

I don't know about you but I know that I am often told 'I wish I could just play with kids all day with games and Play-doh'.  Are you?  When I have explained that Play-doh and games are just tools to keep student's engaged, I have been met with skepticism.  Next time someone asks you how Play-doh helps student's to meet their goals, you can take your pick!

1.  Sensory Input-  Some of our student's need the input from textures and smells to help keep them calm or engaged enough so that they can tap into learning the lesson.  This isn't just for our fidgety students but those that really need the additional sensory feedback.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Tlc-Talk-Shop-Tamatha-Cauckwell/Category/Mash-and-Mark-Series-323391/Search:articulation2. Keeps Hands Busy While You Collect Data from Other Student's in the Group-  That is right!  It gives you a minute to collect the data from one student without three others staring you down or feeling like they are not getting time to independently practice.

3.  Kinesthetic Learners- In 1983, Gardner introduced the idea of multiple learning styles.  One such style are Kinesthetic learning.  Kinesthetic learning takes place when an individual is completing a physical activity while learning.  Using Play-doh to create a letter while practicing that sound or covering a picture while working on that word would be a beneficial activity for our 'body-smart' learners!

4.  Fine Motor Support -  Do you collaborate with Occupational Therapists (OT)?  I have worked with several occupational therapists in the past and we have used Mash and Mark sets to work on fine motor skills while practicing speech and language skills too!  Working on fine motor skills increases the dexterity and muscle tone needed in hands and fingers (needed for writing and pre-writing skills such as cutting and holding a pencil).  Another way to use Play-doh as a collaborative effort with the OT is to place little figurines in balls of Play-doh so that student's have to dig it out.  Once they do, they practice their speech skill (or language skill) at their level.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Phonology-Mash-Mark-2314478

5. Can Help Address Social and Emotional Development-  I have found many times that when I get a new little friend, they are sometimes too scared or nervous to start working with someone new.  It can be a moment filled with anxiety for little ones who do not spend much time away from their parents.  Using Play-doh can help calm them and get them to open up and share their thoughts or feelings about coming to speech.

6. Provides Opportunities to Work on Social Skills-  If student's see you pull out the dough and begin to build something, they will usually begin asking questions (i.e. 'What are you building?' 'Can I have some Play-doh too?', etc..)  You can even split the Play-doh colors (or the tools such as stamps, dough scissors, etc..) between two or more students and remind them to use their manners and you will often see them begin to play and engage more with each other asking to borrow certain colors or tools or asking what the other is creating.   I also use my Map, Mash, and Mark Conversational Sets to work on keeping track of if they asked, answered, or commented to keep conversations going!

7- Turn Any Activity into a Mixed Group Activity-  It is true!  You may have one student working on language, another with fluency, and the third with articulation.  The student with the language goal might create something with their dough (imaginary or real) and then have to provide description, function, or talk about it like they were trying to sell it (or maybe just telling you how to create it).  The fluency student could be using their strategy while asking the language student a question about their creation  and then demonstrating with the dough if they thought their speech was bumpy or smooth.  Or you could have the fluency student practice using their strategies while completing the same task as the language student.  What about the student addressing articulation?  Simple!  If they are practicing their sound at spontaneous speech level (they could be doing the same task as the language student) or if they are at the word level, they can listen to their peers to see if they use their sound at their position and practice tearing off little pieces of the Play-doh from the ball they had each time they practice saying that word.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Fluency-Stuttering-Mash-Mark-for-Speech-Therapy-3652575
8- Visual Supports-  I love using dough for visual supports!  That might be because I am also a visual learner but I find that it helps so much for my student's too.    Visually for an articulation student, they can practice creating the letter while they practice words that contain their sound.  Or check out the wonderful blog post by Natalie Snyder about using Play-doh as a visual for /r/ (Link is provided at the bottom of this post).  Student's working on Fluency can use the dough to make bumpy vs smooth roads or the straight snake vs the bumpy snake.

9- Great Tool for Learning-  You can just about find Mash Mats for any needed goal you need to target with students!  Plus, Jennifer Bradley at Speech Therapy Plans has additional excellent ideas of ways that you can use Play-doh as a learning tool!

10-  Plus, its Fun! Even as an adult, I enjoy working with Play-doh! Kids have such great imaginations and can create some wonderful creatures, narratives, and/or turn it into is own instant dramatic play session!  Who feels like buying a Play-doh Burger and Fries combo?

Other blog posts about using Play-doh I would suggest:
5 Ways to Use Play-Doh in Speech Therapy
Another Quick Articulation Tip for the /r/ Sound


Do you love Play-doh as much as I do?  What ways do you use it?



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