September 16th is National Play Doh Day

September 16th is National Play Doh Day.

National Play-Doh day has been celebrated in the USA on September 16 since 2006.

“So what!” you say.

It’s a lovely opportunity to have some quick fun with your team.  You needn’t take long – 20 minutes will suffice.

The Value of Play at Work

Why would you do it?  Well, the benefits gained from play at work are well documented:

  1. It reduces stress – when we play we release endorphins which help raise mood and improve our overall sense of well-being.
  2. Play improves our social skills, leads to better communication, cooperation, and understanding of body language.
  3. Playing together fosters stronger relationships. The team that plays together tends to demonstrate a higher tolerance for interpersonal differences.  They are more prone to give each other the “benefit of the doubt” during a conflict.
  4. It reduces absenteeism. Research has shown that staff that play at work take fewer days off and report higher scores on well-being measures.
  5. Play boosts productivity and creativity. Just as stress reduces creativity and drives conservative decision-making; play does the reverse , leading to more innovative approaches to workplace situations.
  6. Play generates energy and is an overall positive mood raiser.  Not a bad thing in today’s fast paced and demanding world.

The Play-Doh anniversary simply provides an excuse for getting the team to take a short break and play together.  Plus, play-Doh is cheap, colourful, tends to invoke pleasant childhood memories and is easily adapted to a variety of activities.

So sort your people into teams – and create a quick Play-Doh challenge.

Not sure what to do, then here is a communication challenge I set up for an insurance team.

“Building a Penguin”

The challenge was to “build a penguin.

The winning team was the team who produced a penguin which could stand up unaided and most closely resembled the penguin template that only the team leader could view.  (NOTE: The penguin template was simply a picture of a penguin built from Play-Doh that I found on the Internet)

These were the rules:

The team were split into groups of five people.

  • Each group nominated a leader (Person A) – The leader is not allowed to touch any Play-Doh, however, they are the ONLY person who can view the template of the penguin that the team needs to replicate.  The leader is allowed to come and look at the template as many times as they like, but are not allowed to take a photo of the template; it is their job to communicate what is required.
  • Person B – creates all components from Play-Doh colour 1
  • Person C – creates all components from Play-Doh colour 2
  • Person D – creates all components from Play-Doh colour 3
  • Person E – is the person allowed to assemble the penguin from the components.  Any change to the component must go back to the relevant person (ie B, C or D)

To make it more challenging I made sure that they didn’t have the same play doh colours as the template.

The teams had 15 minutes to create the penguin.

Here are two of the resulting penguins from the communication challenge.

For such a simple exercise, the results were excellent … and hilarious.  People were energised and upbeat, laughing, and debating the various roles and what they could have done.  Plus all the joking comments they made about the other teams and why the own penguin was clearly superior.

You can give points for finishing first if you like, however it’s looking most like the template that counts the most.  Then again, who wins doesn’t really matter … it’s the fun that counts.

So there you have it.

Think about using the excuse of National Play-Doh day to have some fun with your team.

Give them a short break from ‘business as usual’.  Spend $12 and 20 minutes and give them a boost that will provide benefits way beyond the moment.



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