Monday, September 4, 2017

Make it at Home Monday: Cinnamon Playdough

Ah, Labor Day... It marks the unofficial end of summer. It signals the onset of school season--and S will visit his new preschool classroom and meet his new teachers tomorrow! It gives permission for all things pumpkin spice scented...even playdough! Since S will be starting school this week, I wanted our "last day of summer" to be extra special. He chose a trip to the science museum this morning (I think I might cry in the car after I drop him off!). He also chose a self-directed science experiment at home this morning and dropped a purple plastic bowling pin in the toilet (I think I might inquire about extra early drop off and maybe slow down when I send him out the door...).

Parents have all kinds of mixed feelings when it comes to sending off their babies to school for the very first time. I am, indeed, looking forward to going to the bathroom with the door closed. And then drinking a tall cup of coffee before going back to the bathroom with the door opened because Y can't walk in yet. Or drop something in the toilet. S has his own mixed feelings about this special occasion. He is very excited and also very nervous. Some of us contend with our mixed feelings by baking delicious cookies to slip into our children's lunchboxes. Some of us are on strictly gluten free diets and are going the baking mix route instead. And for those of us who fit into the latter category but also love to play at home in the kitchen, there's playdough!

We love playdough here. We use it in a lot of play and learning activities, and when we can, we make our own. I enjoy trying out new recipes for playdough, but more often than not, I return to this treid and true classic stove-top recipe. And as often as I make playdough here, you'd think I would remember to put cream of tartar on the shopping list when I run out. Yet, I always seem to forget! What is cream of tartar anyway?! So the last couple of times I've made playdough here, I've tried some substitutes (after doing some research on the topic via Google search).

So after our morning at the science museum, S requested to play with playdough after his nap and while he and Y have been napping, I've been playing in the kitchen slaving over the stove to whip up a wonderfully Autumn-scented playdough using ingredients you probably do have in your kitchen already:

Cinnamon Playdough

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 3 tsp white vinegar*
  • 3 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 TBSP ground cinnamon
  • food coloring (This is optional--I love the natural color the cinnamon adds to this dough that makes it look--and smell--almost like cookie dough! It will be the perfect addition to a cookie-themed story stretcher we'll be doing later this week!)
*I will admit I was skeptical about substituting in vinegar for the cream of tartar. I have a super schnoz and I hate the smell of vinegar. The smell was not particularly strong in the finished playdough and with the addition of a scent (like the cinnamon in this recipe or an essential oil of your choice), you could easily overpower any residual vinegar aroma that may be present after cooking. Alternatively you can use lemon juice in place of the vinegar.

Instructions: Combine your ingredients in a pot over medium heat and stir continuously until a stiff dough forms in the center of the pot. Then you are ready to take the dough out of the pot and let it cool until it is comfortable to touch. If your little chefs are helping you in the kitchen, please make sure the dough is cool enough for their little hands to handle! Knead the dough until smooth and enjoy using it as is or with your favorite clay and playdough tools. We have especially enjoyed using playdough in our sensory table lately as this both creates a great play space and contains the associated mess. Store in an airtight container or ziplock bag between play sessions to keep fresh. For best results, make sure your dough is totally cool before storing!

Invitation to Play: Playdough Name "Cookies"

Name recognition is a very important early literacy skill. Recognizing their names and the letters in their names is one of the first ways children learn to read and write. And well before they are ready to independently autograph their most prized work and possessions, children can practice name recognition through play. This simple invitation to play and create their names using cookie cutters and cinnamon playdough is the perfect addition to a pretend bakery shop for the cookie lover in your house. Just make sure they realize it's not actually cookies or cookie dough. While it is edible, this recipe will be super salty and won't taste anywhere near as good as it smells!

Well, it's time to wake up those sleepy heads and get back to our end-of-summer celebrating. We live around the corner from a 7-Eleven and I'm pretty sure there's a slurpee with my toddler's name on it just waiting for him there. However you're celebrating summer's end, (or counting down the hours until school starts), I hope you're having a great Labor Day and Happy Playing!

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