Play Dough

Play dough is one of our favorite activities in our house. After almost 5 years of making the stuff on a monthly basis I have found recipes that work well, recipes that can hardly be called play dough, and all kinds of fun additions.

This is hands down my favorite go-to recipe for making play dough.  It's cheap.  It's quick.  It's easy.  

1 cup white flour

1/2 cup salt
1 tablespoon cream of tarter
1 tablespoon oil (this can be vegetable, extra virgin olive oil, even baby oil)
1 cup water

Mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan.  Heat on Med-Low.

When it looks like someone over cooked the mashed potatoes, take it off the burner.

This is the fun part.

Each month I choose a different theme for the play dough.  There is nothing really creative about the theme, but it helps me choose my add-ins and accessories.  For example, in the summer I have a beach theme.  I add sand to the play dough (about 1 part sand to 2 parts dough) and leave it that off-white color.  I give my daughter a small shovel and other sand toys to play with the dough.

I have also done a Valentine's theme where I mixed in red and green food coloring to get a brown color, added some cocoa powder to make it smell like chocolate, and used an empty Valentine heart that was once filled with chocolates for her to make her own chocolates.

I usually add a color using food coloring, tempera paint, glitter glue, or eye shadow.  Next if I am going to I will add a smell using spices or essential oils (most spices will change the color of the dough).  Finally, if I am going to add a texture, I will put in beads or coffee beans.  I don't always do all of them.

Some items I have used in the past to put in the play dough are below.

Food Coloring
Tempera Paint
Glitter Glue
Smashed up Eye Make up
Spices (Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Clove, etc)
Essential Oils (Orange oil, Lemon Oil, Lavender, Rosemary)

*When my daughter was younger, I stuck to only food coloring and essential oils.  As she grew up and I gained confidence in her not eating the play dough or doing any other weird things with it, like putting it in her ears I added new items.  She is currently 5, and we are just starting to experiment with beads, because the beads occasionally pop out.  If your child has a tendency to eat the play dough, don't put inedible items in the play dough.

The accessories/tools we use have changed over the years.  Again, when she was younger, I only gave her a few simple items (2 cookie cutters and a rolling pin).  As she grew up we switched it up more, and provided different materials.  

The supplies in the photo are as follows:
1)  Clay Sculpting Tools  (in the past we did a lesson on artist, and she used the tools to sculpt a vase)
2)  Popsicle Sticks (or Toothpicks to build with and add stability to larger creations)
3)  Scissors (I try to switch it up, and give her new things to try to cut with.  Some are easier, some are harder, so it improves her motor control)
4)  Garlic Press (makes thin worms or hair)
5)  Straws (We use these to build up, add stability, add details, and also to make walls or letters)
6)  Mini-Erasers (we use them as characters for imaginative play or hair accessories on our people)
7)  Googley Eyes (Hello Halloween themed Play Dough)
8)  Buttons (We use these as decorations or counting or to make paths)
9)  Miniature Kitchen Utensils (I picked these up at IKEA and they are great for cooking/baking themes.  Also included on 9 is a Crayola marker.  We roll out the dough and my daughter can practice writing/drawing on something other than paper.  Also great for drawing parts of the creation that are hard to make with the dough.)
10) Cookie Cutters (This is a given, cut out shapes, or make imprints with the cutters.  Sometimes the cutters do double duty as props in the play)
11) Thread Spool (These can be car wheels, or used to make imprints in the dough)
12) Ink Stamps (These can be pressed in the dough and used to add texture to the dough, or practice ABCs)
13) Canning Lids (Great to use at a circle cutter for faces, and the sides can be used to add textures)
14) Scraper (I found this at Walmart, and it's supposed to be used to help clean pans but we use it to cut the dough and manipulate the dough)
15) Silicone Cupcake Liners (We make a lot of fancy birthday cupcakes, sometimes I include birthday candles.  They are also good for holding items as we play.)

Below are some photos of all of these ideas in action.

Garlic Press

Crayola Marker



Ink Stamps



So, there you have it, all my secrets to play dough.  What is your go-to tool lists for playing with play dough?

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