Play-dough is wonderful for children. It's mushy and malleable. It strengthens little fingers. It provides a sensory experience that is both calming and engaging.
I make play-dough every week in my pre-k classroom. It's a great science experiment, figuring out how much water, oil, and flour to add to make it just the right consistency. And once we get it right, we sing a song while we manipulate the dough. The children pick the verb and we act it out.
"insert verb" (repeat three times) the dough...
I sing the song in the video with J. He expressed interest in poking the dough so I sang (and please excuse my voice):
Poke, poke, poke the dough
Poke poke, poke, the dough
poke, poke, poke, the dough
poke poke poke the dough dough dough
I think we spent a good 20 minutes in class once coming up with different verbs (poke, pull, squish, pinch, rip, put it back together, twist, turn, etc). From Bev Bos I learned that it is important for children to be able to manipulate songs and make them their own. Great for creativity. And what is creativity if not critical thinking?
Here is the video of J with his play dough (please excuse my dirty child, I swear I bathe him every night but he sure plays hard during the day):