Cindy: When I was in the third grade our brilliant teacher, Mr. Zielinski, used to give us clay to mold while he read aloud to us. This was during the dark ages before Ritalin was prescribed regularly, and he had his own way of keeping fidgety kids focused. My classmates and I had a great time creating all sorts of tiny sculptures while we listened to The Mouse and the Motorcycle or the book du jour. And I spent my teen years shaping miniature food for the dollhouse craze from Play-Doh. I sold my creations at my mother’s craft booth along with my father’s balsa wood furniture. I probably shaped thousands of pencil lead thick tiny candy canes during those years. I wish I had photos of my realistic stacks of buttered and syrup-topped pancakes, frosted cinnamon rolls, or tiny bananas and apples but alas, you’ll have to use your imagination.
Anyway, when a package arrived with a selection of Play-Doh books, I gave them a closer eye than other bloggers might. My First 100 Words and My First 100 Words: Animals (Silver Dolphin Books 2013) are full of bright fun. These over-sized board books feature creative ideas for young readers to look at and to model. See if you can resist trying to make the rocket ship with the American Flag on it or the cute zebra! The items are grouped by subject in individual boxes and then together in a group shot…like the page of individual toys that are also grouped together in an overflowing toy chest. Ha! They even have a butter and syrup-topped stack of pancakes! I was so ahead of my time. These books will span several years as younger children use them for vocabulary building and then as a collection of ideas for their own modeling clay play. And I love that the shiny board book pages will easily withstand being read while the modeling is going on. Clean up will be a lot easier than digging the stuff out of the carpet.
While I was looking at these books, my husband learned on the radio that Play-Doh was originally produced and marketed (under another name) as wallpaper cleaner. He’s just a walking library of useless information. You can read about that history at Today I Found Out. And, mark your calendars, National Play-Doh day is coming…September 16th! I learned that over 200 billion cans of Play-Doh have been sold to date….and I am eyeing that Anniversary pack of 50 different colors! Play-Doh and I go back about that far together. I think I should celebrate.
Lynn: I am just back from a weekend with the youngest member of the focus group where I field tested these large colorful books with great results. With or without the Play Dough in play, the books were a hit with Henry. He loved identifying the animals or basic items that march across the pages. The books are sturdy and easily managed by small hands. We haven’t yet tried out making some of the animals or familiar items in the books but the next rainy day visit, we’ll give that a try. Libraries and classrooms will want the books without the play dough included but the sets with play dough are worth noting as they make wonderful gifts. I didn’t know all that about the origins of Play Dough but I think I’m going to give it a try on my own field-tested wallpaper!