5. Wheel Tools. Whether it is a rolling pin or a pizza cutter, a preschool engineer will be keen to see the rotational translational motion of these tools and their power. Plus, each of these kinds of tools are made in a variety of shapes so that rolling them leaves interesting tracks in the play dough. Have fun picking one, or two, or three. Check out this pack of four wooden pins by Creativity Street or a set of tools including a straight-line pizza cutter and a wavey-line pizza cutter by School Smart. Melissa and Doug have a great looking combo, too!
Play doh Fun Factory" is a classic for a reason. It is a simple machine, much like a garlic press, but you can change the shape of the play dough "noodles" that come out. My kid gets frustrated sometimes when he is trying to roll out a "noodle" by hand and this tool satisfies his need to avoid his fine motor work and his other, apparently more pressing, need to get the play dough ready to use in the Gravel Yard, Brick Mill, or Ice Cream Shoppe (all listed below).
3. Top Crank. The inventor of the Play-doh Gravel Yard was probably a preschool engineer at one point of his or her life. It has a crank on top that presses down a plunger through a shaft. At the bottom of the shaft are little holes for the play dough to come out; play dough emerges as little pieces of "gravel" shaped remarkably to match the gravel in my back yard. The play dough gravel can be dried to make rubble or used soft in any number of other creative enterprises. For instance, these little pieces of play dough double as chocolate chips when we "bake" with play dough. All in all, a great little tool for a preschool engineer.
Brick Mill makes the #2 spot over the Gravel Yard because it can double as a water toy. Used with play dough, the dough goes in the funnel and the crank turns two patterned rolling wheels. The dough emerges below as a long flat piece of patterned dough...much like a brick sidewalk. In our house, a lot of the fun of this toy has been in exploring how other materials work. Luckily, the toy is easily disassembled and reassembled for getting "unsuccessful" experiments cleaned up.
1. Gears, Crank, Slide, and Syringe. The Play-doh Sweet Shoppe Candy Cyclone is super fun. It has so many elements that appeal to a preschool engineer that I don't know where to start...oh, wait, yes I do. I'll start with the gears. Three auger gears placed adjacent to each other turn when the child turns a crank. By feeding play dough into the top of the globe and between the augers, balls are massaged and dropped onto the ramp below. The ramp, shaped as a twirly slide, then lets the balls roll into a reservoir for retrieval. Gears powered by a crank are enough to make a preschool engineer's heart thump. That these make little balls that can be used in a variety of other tools or in other creative play makes life even better. Plus, there is a syringe for pressing long thin noodles and a stamp for smashing balls into new shapes. This is sold as a "make your own candy"toy but I think there is something more powerful than candy at work...a fabulous machine.
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