You may have heard your child’s school or her speech-language pathologist refer to learning in a play-based curriculum or environment. A play-based curriculum means that children learn through play. The idea behind this is that when children are given the opportunity to explore an exciting and stimulating environment, they will learn without even realizing they are learning.

You can create your own stimulating environment for your child at home. Try making your own play-dough! This activity is just perfect for creating a language-rich environment while doing a simple, inexpensive craft. Here, we include both the ingredients for the dough plus some language goals for the activity.

Have fun!

Coloured ‘play’-dough

Dough Ingredients:

  • ½ cup salt
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • food colouring (optional)

Language Ingredients:

  • Action words (verbs): Talk about how you are pouring the ingredients, mixing them together, stirring with a spoon, squishing, rolling, patting, poking, and cutting the play-dough.
  • Description words (adjectives): Discuss how the play-dough feels sticky or squishy. Roll a ball and make it smooth. Touch the water and talk about how it is wet, and contrast that to the dry flour.
  • Location words (prepositions): Maybe the flour is beside the salt, on the table. The ingredients go in the bowl. Make a tree out of your play-dough and a person to go under the tree.
  • People, places or things (nouns): This can be almost anything! Names of the ingredients, the tools you are using, the objects you are building, the names of those participating, names of shapes, numbers etc…..


  • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
  • Choose a word or two to focus on from each type listed above.
  • Use those words 5 or more times during the activity.
  • Encourage your child to actively participate, by doing, asking, feeling, and commenting.

For more information on Ontario’s play-based curriculum visit:

For more information on Speech Therapy Centres of Canada, visit our website or call us at 905-886-5941.

Written by: Jana Zalmanowitz, Speech-Language Pathologist, The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada.