JavaScript is required

Making sculptures - experience plan

This familiar sensory experience supports children’s fine motor development whilst also fostering dispositions for learning such as creativity, enthusiasm, persistence and imagination.

This learning experience plan relates to:

  • emergent literacy
  • early language user (18-36 months)
  • learning focus: fine motor
  • teaching practice: fine arts.

Collect information

  • What information has been gathered as evidence to inform this experience?

Outcome 4: learning

Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity:

  • Children use play to investigate, imagine and explore ideas.

Outcome 3: wellbeing

Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing

  • Children manipulate equipment and manage tools with increasing competence and skill

Learning intentions

  • For children to develop strength and control in their hands and fingers, i.e. fine motor skills.
  • For children to create sculptures which express their ideas, i.e. fine arts expression.

Assessment of learning

Learning is demonstrated when children:

  • cut, squeeze, roll and manipulate playdough to produce various shapes, objects and/or people/animals
  • use the playdough to create various objects and talk about their meaning, e.g. “this is a cake for mummy”.


  • playdough (make a large batch so that children may make two or three sculptures each)
  • tools (knife, rolling pin, various cutting implements)
  • natural materials (sticks, leaves, flowers, seed pods). Note - educators may choose to do the ‘Walk and Talk’ learning experience prior to this to collect natural materials.

Group size

Small groups (two-five children).


Differentiation should be based on prior assessment of the child/children’s communication skills. Examples of differentiation:

  • for children who find it difficult to maintain attention for seated table top activities, educators could offer the playdough in the outdoor environment where children could move around.  Incorporating objects of interest to extend participation, such as dinosaurs/trains related to the child’s specific interest.
  • for children who are making complex structures and describing these in detail, educators could encourage the child to ‘write’ signs for their sculptures and perhaps their peers, to explain the various works.

Experience process

  1. Introduce the learning experience:
    • talk to the children about the various materials and the opportunities they have to create sculptures.
  2. During the playdough sculpting, employ the following strategies:
    • if appropriate, have a discussion with the child about their ideas/plans prior to commencing
    • for children who are not creating representational sculptures, talk to them about what they are doing, how it feels, what it looks like, what they can see. Use questioning to extend the sculpting process and encourage children to explain their works and ideas. E.g. “What does this part do?” or “What else does your sculpture need?”
    • annotate children’s work, writing descriptions of their sculptures verbatim
    • talk about what children are doing and incorporate advanced language where appropriate. e.g. “Taylor is carefully sculpting the feet of the sea turtle”
    • encourage children to add complexity and detail to their sculptures through discussion about the various features
    • be mindful of leaving pauses in the talking so that children have time and space to create
    • where appropriate, highlight how children have expressed the same idea in different ways. e.g. “Lucas has made his cake with lots of chocolate icing and Sarah’s is an ice-cream cake with sprinkles on top”
    • where appropriate, encourage the children to experiment with elements of print. e.g. child: “that looks like an ‘O’ in my name.” educator: “it does, we could try to make an ‘O’ with the playdough.”
  3. To consolidate and assess understanding, talk to each child about what they have made, and write this down to display next to their sculptures. Read it back for the children to hear and discuss. Display the sculptures in an area where families and other children can see them.

Going Further

This experience can be presented alongside a specific inquiry to support children to think more deeply about a particular concept. For example, if the children are learning about emotions, the playdough table could be set up with mirrors for the children to look at themselves as well as books about emotions to provoke their thinking during this experience.


Reflective questions for educators may include:

  • What learning has occurred? How do you know?
  • What have you realised about the child’s interests, knowledge, and capabilities?
  • In discussion with colleagues, what would you plan next to consolidate or extend children’s learning?

Additional/alternate resources for this learning experience

  • beads, buttons, plastic bottle lids and other recycled materials to incorporate in the sculptures
  • essential oils to mix into the playdough, e.g. lavender or bergamot
  • coloured food dye
  • plasticine
  • sand and water with various natural materials.