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If you are like me, your abilities to create with playdough are limited. An Israeli friend recommended I check out the products of Rony Oren, a master clay animator and artist. His distinctive, easily taught method of working with clay is conveyed through a wide range of books and merchandise, available on his site. Rony sells how-to book series, story books, board books, clay-kits as well as internationally broadcast short animation films and worldwide workshops.  Rony likes to work with special clay, but his creations are easily replicated with simple play dough, as well. Check out his site to buy his amazing books, or just to get inspired.

http://ronyoren.com/

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As I was researching the various crafts you can do with your small child, I found a lot of useful stuff: play dough, watercolors, finger paints, crayons, cutting, sticking, glitter…. All of these activities spark the child’s creativity and curiosity.

However, when I see a recipe, my first instinct is to change it, to add to it and to combine it with something else. Kid’s arts and crafts got the same reaction from me. Since children learn so well through play, why not combine all kinds of arts with all kinds of play: this way both creativity and imagination would become multi-dimensional. The child would be able to draw and paint and build and role-play and dig all at the same time!

As a result, whenever my son and I sit down to do a creative project, it’s never “just play dough” or  “just crayons.” We can start with play dough and make a bird, for example. Then, we take crayons and draw a tree for this bird. Then, we take watercolors and paint the grass under the tree. Then we cut a piece out of dark paper and stick it on the grass: this is how we make a road. Then, we take our toy cars and let them drive on the road.  After the cars have been going for a while, we build a bridge over the road, using matchsticks and glue. Finally, we make a construction site, next to the bridge. We draw it with different color pencils and stick some sand on the paper next to it ( so that the construction workers can dig.) And lastly, we take a teaspoon and dig through the sand.

We have painted gardens for play dough butterflies, we have made play dough roads for our wooden trains, we have put play dough passengers into our toy cars, we have put play dough boats into Tupperware containers full  of water. We have also drawn vases with crayons, to stick some real dried flowers in and we have fed our stuffed animals some play dough fruits and veggies. Oh, and once we made a finger paint soup, but that didn’t work so well.

These games can be endless. The key is incorporating  many senses and materials into an art project. Through creating art this way, the child will see art as a part of real-life, as something fun and tangible. Dolls can play in drawn doll-houses and trucks can ride on play dough roads. Using this simple technique, children learn to make their own world, where they are the creators and the active participants.


My typical play dough session with my active boy goes this way:

“Mom, make me a car!”

“Ok, I’ll make you a play dough car, but you’ll add wheels to it.”

“Ok!”

Usually, as I am finishing up the said play dough car,  he is already riding his toy truck, chasing after our cat somewhere in the other end of the yard, yelling: “Heyyyaaa!” while trying to catch the poor animal’s tail.  Needless to say, I am really looking forward to my baby girl growing up and making little cute toys out of play dough with me, while this little man and his baby brother are busy chasing cats on their toy trucks.

Recently,  however, my perspective on play dough has changed.  My Russian-Israeli friend Svetlana showed me some play dough models from the Israeli book “Secrets of Play Dough.”  The book unravels a great and small kid-friendly way to start making things:  start with many simple, little details, like balls and sticks. When the little pieces are later connected, they create true works of art:

 

 

We’ll try making these things tomorrow. Let me know if you do, too!

 

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