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Thursday, 17 February 2022

Mixing the colours of the Playdough

Mixing the colours of playdough - is it really THAT bad? Why do so many struggle with this and are we actually missing out on important learning opportunities by forbidding this to happen??

 mixing the colours of playdough - a lump of playdough colours mixed together


A couple of years ago, Hannah from hi baby blog shared a Facebook photo by Tom Fletcher showing an image of playdough that had been squeezed and mixed together, and the reaction from most parents was that of utter horrification. The need to keep the colours separate appears to be very, very real and the calming down techniques needed when it all inevitably ends up in one big colourful heap are vast.

I'm going to lay my cards on the table early - I love everything that the metaphorical mixing of playdough colours stands for. Not just the metaphorical mind you, the ACTUAL mixing of colours too. I'm not going to sit here and wax lyrical about the parallels we can draw between colour mixing playdough and other, much bigger issues in the world relating to race, religion, politics etc whilst refusing to actually let my children mix the colours of their own playdough - they can genuinely mix all they want....but the focus of this post is why should you let them, and why does it matter??

The most common issue that many parents had was that of the resulting colour when all of the playdough has been thoroughly mixed together: BROWN

So I ask, what is SO bad about brown?? Do you know how hard it is to make brown when you actually want to?? (chocolate playdough I'm talking about you!). It is one of the most natural colours in the world, so why such hard feelings towards Mr Brown McBrownson, heap of playdough extraordinaire??

Rather than focus on the negatives, and write down all of the reasons it royally annoys the life out of most of you, lets turn it around a little bit....


Lets pretend that you are 5 years old and you really, really want to make a picture of a rainbow - which one would you hope for? A or B?


How about if you wanted to make a picture of a bunch of flowers? 



It's kind of obvious when you look at it like that isn't it??...and so what if your bunch of rainbow flowers end up getting mixed together into a heap of brown eventually...this is what happens in real life anyway isn't it?


There are SO many learning opportunities involved in colour mixing - noticing differences and changes, predicting, testing, discussions using language of colour, shades, light and dark...learning that some changes are permanent and can’t be ‘undone’....answering those ‘what will happen if?” Questions...becoming aware of the fact that you can’t make a primary colour but that every other colour can be made using just those 3... it’s quite fascinating really! It really is one of those learning opportunities that needs to be explored in a hands on way, and what better way than playdough?

I know that so many of you worry about the end result just being a sludgy brown coloured mess, but it’s important to remember that it is the PROCESS that is the most important part of the learning and not the end result. You can always portion out your playdough and keep some behind for next time rather than using it all in one go too.

Are you for or against mixing the colours??