Everyone knows how much fun play dough can be; it’s a staple toy of almost every childhood. But the question is, can play dough be more than a children’s toy – can it be a therapeutic, creative generator for adults?
Studies have shown that play dough can make a fantastic learning and play aid for children (and adults) with all manner of disabilities, from autism to sensory delay. Research has also suggested that it can be a fantastic tool for seniors living with dementia. But companies, successfully using Play Doh in their team sessions, highlight that this medium can be added to the tool box of storytellers, script writers, film makers, set designers, architects and so many other creatives,
Artist, Eleanor Macnair, writes that her photographs Rendered in Play-Doh started on a whim in August 2013 following a photo pub quiz run by artists MacDonaldStrand in Brighton. One of the rounds was to make a reproduction of a famous photograph using Play-Doh. It is said that you only need one good idea in life. I didn’t have one so, in the spirit of post-modern re-appropriation, I used theirs.
Macnair points out how easy and accessible it all is, saying that all she needed was Play-Doh, a chopping board, a scalpel and an empty wine bottle as a rolling pin.
Obviously Macnair’s work is in a class of its own. There is no need to produce anything as sophisticated as this. However, just as a wide range of artists turn to Barbies to generate ideas for anything from storytelling to fashion design you could use play doh to create vision boards and story lines. The Imagination Tree caters mainly for children but does provide lots of suggestions about what to include in a Play Doh Tool kit.
The Improv Agency promote Play-Doh Activities for adults in the work place. One suggestion is to make a monster that reflects yourself. It can be a big monster, a wacky monster, or a little monster. Your monster types are limitless! If you want, gather some little accessories to accentuate the monsters. You can get googly eyes, wooden popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, or perhaps items that fit a particular theme you’d like the monsters to be celebrating. Once everyone is done with their monsters, they can sit them in front of themselves as a reminder to be playful during your meeting.
So make yourself some playdoh and get started.
Directions for making play dough:
250 ml of water
1 TBSP oil (vegetable, coconut or olive works best)
64 g of salt
1 TBSP cream of tartar (this keeps play dough fresh for longer)
64 g flour
Food colouring / Aromatherapy Oil / glitter
How to make:
Mix the water, oil, salt and cream of tartar, add the food colouring if using, and heat mixture until warm. For play dough with a more exciting look, adding glitter can also be an option worth considering.
Remove from the heat and add the flour.
Stir the mixture until it forms a ball, add aromatherapy oil if using, and then knead until smooth.
Place in an airtight container when not in use.