When my children were little I remember spending HOURS and hours in our kitchen measuring, scooping, mixing, stirring and kneeding our own homemade playdough. Making it didn’t NEED to take so long, but it was an activity they LOVED! And we took our TIME enjoying every minute of sensory squishy messy mess making it!
Making our own playdough is part COOKING, part SCIENCE, part SENSORY, and lots of CREATIVITY. It’s also a great to develop and strengthen FINE MOTOR strength & dexterity skills.
COOKING: I taught my children how to scoop and level flour and salt (dry ingredients), to pour water “to the line” and to dip-measure oil using a measuring spoon and cup of oil (wet ingredients). Of course, I would take charge of the actual cooking on the stove (a crockpot works too… and is safer).
SCIENCE: We talked about how cooking is actually science.. chemistry to be exact! Click this link to read more about Chemical Reactions (like what happens to the play dough ingredients when they are mixed then heated) http://www.chem4kids.com/files/react_intro.html
SENSORY: The absolutely BEST PART was kneading the warm cooked playdough on the counter top (or table). It’s always so so soft, warm and comforting to knead the warm dough.
CREATIVITY: We got creative as we EACH kneaded in clear or colored glitter to make each child’s lump of dough his very own.
FINE MOTOR: Squeeze, pinch, roll dough into unique sculptures.
Ideas to try: roll tiny “cherries” to make a miniature Cherry Pie, roll thin “snakes” to create hair for a dough doll, practice cutting with a plastic knife/fork, use plastic scissors to practice snipping and to strengthen scissors skills
Here’s the recipe:
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups salt
6 tsp. cream of tarter
3 Tbsp oil (canola or baby oil)
3 cups water
color & scent (you can use food coloring & food extract- vanilla, almond, peppermint -OR- 1 pkg sugar-free Kool-Aid for both color & scent)
clear or colored glitter (optional)
What to do:
1) Measure all ingredients into a large cooking pot or crock pot
2) Stir ingredients well
3) This part is for parents ONLY: Stir constantly over medium heat until dough ball forms (pulls away from sides of pot)
4) Knead dough on counter top or table until texture matches play dough (at least 2 minutes)- parents may want to knead until dough is cool enough for little hands
5) Knead in glitter (if you want sparkly play dough)
7) Store in airtight container or Ziploc bag (dough will keep for MONTHS)
Now that my children are teens we STILL mix up a batch every now and then. My daughter’s middle school girl scout troop made and packaged play dough as a service to their community: they gifted their homemade play dough to needy and special needs preschoolers. So very personal for the givers and for the receivers!
I hope you and your children ENJOY making your own “signature” play dough as much as we have.