/ 2. July 2012 15:03
By Janine Moretti – An Augustinian Volunteer in South Africa
When I was growing up, my mom was a preschool teacher and had a million of creative ideas for teaching and interacting with children. So when she heard that I was going to be working with toddlers, she was thrilled and ready to send me materials and great ideas. One of the things she sent me was 8 little containers of Play Dough in all different colors. The first time I brought them to 1000 Hills was quite the adventure. The teachers and the kids were both very curious about what the play dough was and what you did with it. We had to tell the kids numerous times "Do not eat it!" in Zulu. I started by taking only a couple of kids at a time, sitting them down at the table, and giving them each a small piece of colored Play Dough. Whatever the color we were using for the day was, I had the children repeat it in English and Zulu so they could recognize the color. I had a piece for myself so I was able to show them how to roll it in their hands into long pieces or "hot dogs" and roll them into balls using the table. I also showed them how to squish the balls down to flatten them out. After the kids explored the play dough with their own hands for some time, I gave them some tools like cutters, rolling pins, and shape cut outs. I showed them each how to do use the tools which some of them understood but the shape cut outs were a hard concept. When I was working with the kids, some of the teachers I work with came over and asked what it was. I told them it was Play Dough from America and I showed them what you could do with it. They were instantly amazed by it and over the next few weeks, each of them played with it a little bit and made shapes with the cut outs.
Over past month, I have spent an hour each Tuesday and Thursday making sure all 45 of our 2 year olds got a chance to play with the Play Dough and explore the amazing talents the clay has. Some kids have been more active than others with but all seem to enjoy its wonders. Akhona tries to eat it, Lindo makes things and then tries to tell me what they are in Zulu. Some kids look at their hands and are curious why little pieces get stuck behind on their fingers and others refuse to put it back in the container and want to take it wherever they go. Play Dough is a fabulous invention that is know a favorite of South Africans and Americans. I hope to use it more throughout the year and make some of my own with the recipe my mom gave me. It has been great to see what joy Play Dough has brought to both Zulu women and children at the 1000 Hills Community Center in South Africa