I love play dough. It's an activity that really settles my son down and will keep him occupied for a long while. Play dough is also a great sensory experience and develops fine motor skills. I introduced play dough as soon as he stopped putting everything in his mouth and we've been playing with it ever since.
I always make play dough at home. I find it quite easy and it is a great activity to do with my son when he is interested. Also, I think homemade play dough is easier to clean up. The bought play doughs seem to melt once they hit the floor, whereas homemade play dough dries out and can be swept up.
This is the recipe that I use (I'm not sure where I got it from)
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup of salt
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup water
any other additions (see below)
Mix all the ingredients together in the saucepan. Put saucepan on heat and cook slowly until dough comes away from the pan and forms a ball. Leave to cool. Make dough into a ball and knead till smooth. Soak the saucepan straight away to save time when washing the dishes.
When you cook the play dough you can add different colours (with food colouring or powdered paint), glitter or add a drop of a scented oil.
What can you do with the play dough now that you've made it, apart from squish it, scrunch it, knead it, pound it, fold it, pinch it and so on. Here are some ideas, I'm sure you can think of plenty more
- Make impressions in the dough with things from around your home, garden or things you have collected on trips (eg. shells, leaves, sticks, plastic animals, cars)
- Cut out shapes with cookie cutters
- Roll snakes and balls
- Push small items (match sticks, buttons, paperclips, paddlepop sticks, googly eyes) into the play dough to create faces or weird and wonderful sculptures. We started off with faces but my son much prefers making strange sculptures.
- Introduce your child to cutting with scissors or a knife
- Create a bakery. Place orders for cupcakes, biscuits and birthday cakes. You can add things like cake decorations, muffin cups and a pretend oven to make this play more involved.
- Roll snakes and use them to shape letters
- Sculpt animals. I find snails, turtles and crocodiles quite easy.
- Create pinch pots or coil pots.