Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tuesday Table Time: Homemade Playdough

Playdoughs are a sensory material that can be enjoyed from a very young age all the way through adulthood. Even very little ones can appreciate exploring taste safe and homemade options. There's a lot of great playdoughs, clays and similar sensory materials on the market available at craft and hobby stores and there are also a lot of wonderful recipes to make your own using ingredients you already have to some more obscure ones. My son could play with playdough every day and likely never tire of it. I do keep a stock of the store-bought stuff on hand but I also love the process of making my own and he's now at the age where he can really appreciate climbing up on his step-stool and helping out with the process in the kitchen.

The most common recipe I use for playdough is the classic stove-top recipe below:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 TBSP cream of tartar
  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
Optional additional ingredients: 
To add color:
food coloring, liquid watercolor or tempura paint
To add scent:
 extracts, essential oils, spices
To add texture:
glitter, beads, sequins

Mix first 3 ingredients in a medium pot. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Cook and continue to stir over medium heat about 3-5 minutes. The mixture will start to thicken and become lumpy. Continue to cook and stir until it forms a blob in the middle of the pot. Remove from heat. The dough will be quite hot so handle cautiously at first--this is not the part little ones should help with! Once it is cool enough to handle, knead on a nonstick surface (I use a vinyl cutting mat or placemat) and it is ready to play with and explore. Dough can be stored and saved in a ziplock back or airtight container for at least a few weeks.

I am a minimalist when we first start with playdough. I like to introduce it unscented with no color and no tools at first. Touching and kneading alone can provide a great deal of enjoyment and fascination for little ones. A "blank" dough is also a great way to explore mixing colors. You can add one primary color and then another using food colors or paint (note that food color can stain hands for quite a while when it is not yet mixed in, so you may want to use rubber gloves or mix in a ziplock bag). Adding tools like plastic knives or cookie cutters can add to the level of exploration as well. Again, I take a minimalist approach, providing only one or a few tools at a time on many occasions rather than a whole bin of options. I am also always intrigued by the ideas my son comes up with on his own of what to use as a "tool!" 

We use playdough at least once a week as a Table Time activity. It can easily be related to a theme by adding appropriate tools, toys and accessories:
Purple Peppermint Playdough with Construction Vehicles for our Transportation Theme

Hope you have fun digging in, getting your hands doughy and as always, happy playing!

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