Sensory activities are very important for children. They help their brains tangibly relate to the world, calm them down when they are over-stimulated, and bring out the artist in each of us. A simple sensory activity that you can do at home is play dough. I grew up with my mom making play dough and I wanted to carry this tradition down the line. It’s simple, cheap and exciting for kids to watch flour transform into a blob of play dough.
Play dough recipe
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
2 cups water
2 tablespoons oil
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
Food coloring (natural plant-based food coloring)
1. Combine all ingredients in a pan and stir. Cook over low heat, stirring until a ball forms.
2. Set on foil and let cool for a minute.
3. Separate dough into equal parts. Add food coloring and knead thoroughly until desired color.
4. Store in covered container (we use old Play Dough containers and tupperware).
I like to fold the play dough up a little so that when I put the food coloring in it there is a place for it to pool up (I like a lot of food coloring!). Just be careful when kneading it that it doesn’t squirt out.
My daughter, Clare, loves play dough with cookie cutters, a rolling pin, plastic knife, and random plastic cups. My four year old son, Jackson, likes to make sculptures out of play dough, like snowmen and bowling pins. We just got a Play Dough Burger maker for Christmas, yet they don’t even like using it (go figure).
1. Tampering with the measurements: I have done this and it makes a difference. The texture and stickiness is off and it just isn’t good.
2. Not heating through: Make sure the play dough is on the stove long enough for the salt to dissolve. Some recipes say to take the play dough off the stove once it is warm, but that doesn’t work for me. It leaves a granular texture if I do that (which you can actually see in the picture over!). Keep cooking slowly until it is a smooth consistency.
3. Wearing nice clothes: You don’t want to get food coloring on your nice shirt, so throw on an old shirt just to be safe.
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