Kid's Activity: Play Dough

by Carol E Jordan

cookie cutter playdough truckIt's one of those play things that children across America have always loved for years! What makes play dough so great? The answer to this lies strictly in the mind of a child.

Have you ever noticed how your child must touch everything s/he comes into contact with? This is especially evident while walking through a china shop or when baking cookies. They must have their hands on/in whatever is around. This is because so much of what a child learns is through hands-on activity, play, and experience. Playing with dough is one of the many ways to help enhance a child's perception and knowledge of the world.

When a parent or teacher offers a small child a bit of dough to pound, squeeze, shape, and mold that child is suddenly empowered to create anything his mind can imagine. This power not only fuels the imagination but also allows the child to relieve stress or frustration that may have been building up for whatever reason. Although stress-relief may not be your immediate concern when you hand a child a bit of dough, this is definitely a benefit reaped from the play.

Playing with dough also helps to develop necessary skills for many things your child will be learning throughout childhood! Shaping and molding the dough develops the fine motor skills needed for writing, tying shoes, and other fingers-required tasks. Eye-hand coordination is also increased as the child pounds, sculpts, and molds his creation. You may even see an increase in attention span as your child concentrates intently on perfecting his creation.

playdough caterpillarWith all the other expenses of raising children no one needs the added expense of constantly replacing that expensive play dough every month or two. Instead of purchasing dough you can easily make your own right at home with ingredients you may already have in the pantry. Best of all this is something you can make together! Following are a few recipes that have been tested time and again in my classroom as well as other classrooms across the country. They are easy to make, inexpensive, and best of all they are fun!

Easy No-Cook Play Dough
  · 2 cups flour
  · 1 cup water
Mix together until dough is no longer sticky.

**For color and scent you can add unsweetened kool-aid™ or jello.
**To just add color just put a few drops of food coloring into the water before mixing it with the flour.

This dough will not last long even if kept in an airtight container. You will need to replace it frequently.

Easy No-Cook Oatmeal Dough
  · 1 cup flour
  · 1 cup oatmeal (old-fashioned, not quick cook)
  · 1 cup water
  · Food coloring if desired
Mix all ingredients in medium bowl until dough starts to form a ball. Transfer to a lightly-floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and no longer sticky.

**Edible and safe for even babies when fresh.
**This dough should be stored in an airtight container or zipper baggie in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. If left out more than a day it can get pretty icky and start to smell.
**Mixing large quantities of dough at a time will increase the kneading time.

Kool Aid Play Dough
  · 2 pkgs. kool-aid™
  · 2 cups flour
  · 2 cups boiling water
  · 1/2 cup salt
  · 2 Tbsp oil
1. Combine flour, salt, kool-aid™, and oil in a small bowl
2. Slowly pour boiling water into mixture while stirring
3. Mix with spoon until dough forms a balls and is cool enough to touch
4. Knead with hands until it is no longer sticky (this may take a few minutes)
5. Store in a zipper baggie or other airtight container to keep it fresh

**This dough smells incredibly good due to the kool-aid™, however it is not edible.

Traditional Play Dough (requires cooking)
  · 1 cup flour
  · 1 cup warm water
· 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  · 1 teaspoon oil
  · 1/4 cup salt
  · food coloring
Add all ingredients in the order listed to a medium pan. Stir over medium heat until smooth then remove from pan and knead until color is even and dough is smooth. Store the dough in a zipper bag or other airtight container when not in use; when properly stored this dough will last a long time.

Cinnamon Dough
  · 1/2 cup cinnamon
  · 1/2 cup store bought applesauce (homemade sauce will likely be too watery)
Mix cinnamon and applesauce to form a ball of dough.

If you leave this dough out overnight it will harden like clay. It is great for making aromatic Christmas ornaments.

Carol E. Jordan is the mother of 2 children. She has been a preschool teacher for nine years and is working toward a CDA (Child Development Associate) an Early Childhood Education professional credential.

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