Bridging the Opportunity Divide

LEGO Gets All the Attention, But This Toy Is Even Better at Developing Creativity

October 31, 2014
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LEGO Gets All the Attention, But This Toy Is Even Better at Developing Creativity
Play-Doh could make a big crossover from the preschool aisle into the designer-approved canon. Robert S. Donovan/Flickr Creative Commons
Thanks to the greater emphasis on STEM education, this childhood favorite is poised for revival.

Move over, LEGO. Another classic toy is having a renaissance.

Colorful, flexible, and distinctly smelly — Play-Doh has been praised by The Atlantic’s CityLab as “a toy that encourages creative building like Lego, but does it even better.”

As we previously mentioned, some educators argue that since children derive such great benefits from the arts, STEM (for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) should be changed to STEAM (the A stands for arts), to highlight the importance of creative endeavors.

LEGOs have often been considered the STEM toy of choice, but the blocky pieces only fit into rigid angles and can’t change color. The beauty of Play-Doh is how it can create curves, textures and can be mixed into different hues. The possibilities with the squishy dough are truly endless — not to mention that it’s also much less painful to step on in the middle of the night.

MORE: These Women Invented a Toy That Truly Includes Every Child

When used in the classroom or home, the colorful clay can be molded into body parts and organs (check out the awesome ear canal this girl made) or even be used to create electrical circuits. The toy’s manufacturer, Hasbro, even has a 3-D Play-Doh printer on the market.

Another bonus with Play-Doh, as CityLab notes, is how it’s gender-neutral. When it comes to the plastic blocks however, the kits are distinctly marketed to boys (secret agents, dragons, spaceships and robots) or girls (cutesy animals, dream houses, beauty parlors).

It’s unclear if Play-Doh sales have increased due to the emphasis on STEM or STEAM education, but a PR person tells CityLab they’ve shipped one billion cans in the past five years.


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