You may have guessed from the front page of my website that I like play doh a little bit! And you are right. I love incorporating play doh into my speech and language sessions. It keeps kids' focused and also allows them some tactile sensory input if they're into that. (NOTE: some kids really DON'T like touching play doh and I certainly don't use these activities with them! If you're even unsure if play doh is appropriate for your kids, you can consult an OT.)
There is pretty much no end to what you can do with play doh. Okay, maybe there is, but I haven't found it yet. I've only got 2 play doh activities to show in this post, but at the bottom you'll find a short list of some of the other fun ways I use it!
Speech sound smash mats:
This works for pretty much all speech goals, but I find it most useful for working on speech sounds in isolation or at the syllable level, when you can't really find the sounds in books or other fun games.
In isolation, I'll have the child help me make a row of play doh balls in coolers of their choice and they go down the row saying the sound and smashing each ball as they go. For syllables, I most often write out a "wheel of sounds" and have them go "around the clock" saying each syllable. So if it's /s/ in the middle, they'll smash each play doh ball as they say "say, see, sigh, so, etc." If I'm really on top of my game, I sequence the syllables from what's easiest for that child to what's hardest as they go around.
The picture I snapped doesn't really capture all the ways I use play doh for this, but it's good enough! Because play doh is so versatile, you can use it to go with any book! Especially when I don't have the particular manipulatives I need for a certain story, I like to make some out of play doh! You can see play doh pictured above as the "Muck" in the sleepy slimy marsh where the duck is stuck. (One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root)
I have made all sorts of animals and objects to go along with the books we read or stories we create in our sessions. I have even gone so far as to plan and film a claymation movie with one of my clients, which was great fun!
Other ways to use play doh:
Feel free to comment with all the ways you use play doh at home with your own kids or at your clinic!
Thank you for reading and happy speaking!
Carla Monteleone & Deborah Carter own and operate Grow Speech and Language Therapy in Vancouver, BC