I am the first to admit I have a love hate relationship with playdough. As a teacher I absolutely love playdough. It enhances and strengthens the muscles in the hands which gets children ready to grip a pencil or use scissors. It awakens their creativity and allows them to create without any limitations. And overall it is just silly fun, which let's face it kids enjoy. As a mom I have some different feelings about playdough, I see lots of left over open containers that cost a lot to purchase and quickly dry out. I see lots of crumbs on the floor and endless playdough tracks strewn about the house...so I totally get it playdough is messy and expensive. However the teacher in me usually wins out. It is a worthwhile educational experience that preschoolers need to have access to and experiment with on a regular basis.
So with that said I have gotten over my reluctency and made a few playdough guidelines to help with my sanity. First off my daughter may stand or sit around her play table however the playdough cannot leave the table. This helps with the messiness. I only have one area to pick up after which helps me out a lot. Secondly we make our own playdough together. When my daughter has to work to create something I found that she takes better care of it and spends more time using it. The expensive playdough kits that have countless pieces and containers often clutter up her play table and she spends 10 seconds with them before getting bored. Today she spent an hour and a half playing with her homemade playdough. She used cookie cutters to make cookies, she rolled it out with a rolling pin. She rolled it into colorful balls and made snakes.
This is by far my favorite playdough recipe, I have tweaked it over several years of making it for the classroom. This one doesn't get dye on your hands, it isn't sticky and doesn't dry out as fast. And the smell is fabulous since each one smells like the flavor jello you use. The playdough smells so yummy...and if your little ones sneak a pinch to try to taste it is all natural nothing that will hurt them. Which makes this mama feel a whole lot safer.
I mix the following ingredients into a small pot on the stove.
1 cup hot water
1 cup flour
2tbs cream of tartar
2tbs vegetable oil
1 pkg of jello (use regular jello sugar free doesn't work as well)
Mix the ingredients* on medium heat making sure to get rid of any lumps, keep stirring until the playdough gets too hard to stir. Set on a floured cutting board to cool.
*I have my little one mix all the ingredients into a bowl, she helps measure and count and then I pour it into the pot on the stove.
After it cools off lightly dust a table with flour and let your little ones mold it into balls. I like storing them in a clear plastic container, ziploc bags work fine too.
Since today is Mommy & Me Monday I like to take some time out of my normal routine and devote just to my kids, no cell phone, computer, or other distractions of any kind. Time that is just meant for them. Today after they explored the playdough on their own we sat down together to explore with the playdough. I showed my four year old how to use her playdough snakes to create the letter K like in her name. I also helped her to make some patterns out of the playdough cookies she had made. With my 14 month old we practiced counting the small rolled up balls, naming the colors (mostly me naming them and him touching the color), and encouraging him to push his hand into the dough to make a handprint. Encouraging these tactile experiences will help him to make connections as these skills are reintroduced each time.
You don't need a whole lots of toys to experience the fun of playdough, my philosophy ...less is more. Encourage your little one to get creative. Give them some beads or pipe cleaners to stick in their playdough to make silly creatures. Use alphabet cutters to make words or your child's name. Use number cutters and have your little one put them in order from least to greatest. If your looking for some quality tools for your little ones to learn and explore with check out the ones we have selected below. We hope everyone has a great Monday. Take a few moments away from your hectic day today to spend some quality one on one time with your little ones, and maybe even whip up a batch of homemade playdough.