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ScreenFree Monday : Mixed Material Jungle

There is no other way to start this post than with a Happy New year! We're already three days in to 2016. My four year old is back in school and we're back to our usual routine.

Though getting back into the routine after a rather long break is not very easy and therefore it's not the best time to think of the most innovative ways to keep her occupied and screen-free. Reinventing the wheel can wait for a couple of weeks, as I lean back on some of our tried and tested screen free favourites. In this case, a Mixed Material Play Dough Jungle.

Mixed Material Jungle

Age range : 2 to 5 years

Requirements Play dough/ Modelling Clay /Plasticine Animal figurines

Twigs and leaves Tray ((optional)) Play Dough

It helps that almost 60% of the gifts my daughter got through December were modelling clay based. You see, December is her birthday month too - so Christmas gifts + birthday gifts = quite a lot of paint sets and Play Dough. For those moms who have the time and would like to indulge in DIY, there are also easy two step recipes for making play dough at home.

Animal Figurines

My daughter also loves wild animals and so we have quite a big collection of animal figurines amassed over time. Twigs and leaves The only other thing that we need for this activity are twigs and leaves. We usually pick a few up on the walk back from school. You can also turn the simple task of getting the twigs and leaves into a fun outdoors activity.

How to Play Once you have everything ready settle down in a space that has been cleared out for this and begin.

Roll the dough into tiny mounds and stick the twigs into them. Flatten the dough into lakes. Mould them into hilly landscapes. Scatter the leaves around the playdough and place the animals around the jungle.

I use a tray to contain the materials and also so my daughter can move locations in case she feels like it.

Benefits: Using modelling clay/ plasticine is one of the best ways to improve fine motor skills. All that moulding and pressing and rolling give those little fingers a work out. It also helps in building the much-needed skill of concentration. Once completed the jungle also becomes an invitation to play. Playing with the figurines in the environment that they created makes them use their imagination. This activity can be modified according to the animals your child prefers. You can create farms for farm animals, ocean environments for sea creatures and so on. This is an activity that grows with your child. From creating the environment to actually interacting with it and later even learning facts about the animal figurines you use, you can adjust the complexity of this activity according to your child's needs.

Here's a shot of Nibbles and her grandmother playing with a mixed material jungle bordering a farm.

Nibbles playing mixed media jungle with her grandmother

For tips on how to incorporate screen free activities into your young child's routine, click here.

And for those of you who already love a session of play dough with your child, please do share your play ideas here in the comments section or on the Times of Amma Facebook page.

We'd love to get more play time ideas and the idea that gets liked the most will be featured on the site as well!

Till the next time then Ammas!

Get, set, play!

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