Sunday, August 5, 2012

Home Made PlayDough

Playdough with Jello
I have gone through so much play dough in the last few months that I decided to make some at home. It is one activity that can keep both my kids busy for a pretty good 45 minutes to an hour. Apart from being a fun activity, playing with playdough has some unique benefits too. It is no wonder that playdough stations are so popular at preschools and at the Strongstart centers.The playdough at these centers is all home made. I have seen the teachers make it along with the kids on more than one occasion.

So what are the benefits of playing with this malleable, colorful substance?
Here is what I've learned from my own experience and from the people who work with my children.

Benefits of playing with Playdough:

1. Playing with playdough is a great open-ended learning activity for the kids. There are no rules so the kids have ample room for error, for exploration and for learning from their mistakes. And by adding stuff like glitter, gems, spices, sticks, stones, feathers etc. you just double up the fun.
2. It helps them build their imagination. They can form the dough into whatever shape they desire. I love making flowers with the dough while the kids like to make stars, hearts and other shapes using the cutters.
3. Playdough helps in developing the fine motor skills. By using their little hands to press, squash, roll, and squeeze the dough, the children are strengthening their hand muscles. This will help them hold a pencil better and eventually write better.
4. Involving the children in making this fun substance, teaches the children about measurement and also lets them feel and smell the ingredients. So they are learning about textures, colors and smells.

4. Playdough helps build self-esteem. Children just love to hear "Wow! That is really cool!" from us. It is something that they create all by themselves and to hear instant praise for their work of art is a big boost for them. The more we appreciate, the longer they will continue with their activity. Trust me. Praise goes a long way.

Here are a couple of recipes for homemade playdough that I got from Ayaan's teacher at the Strongstart Centre.

Recipe for Homemade Playdough:

1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup salt
1/2 cup hot water
2 tbsp oil
1tbsp cream of tartar
Food coloring

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon or spatula as the mixture will be hot.  Once the dough cools down a little, knead it into a nice ball using your hands. Enjoy!

Recipe for Homemade Playdough using Jello:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp cream of tartar (you can substitute with lemon juice)
1 cup water
3oz pk Jello

Mix all the ingredients together in a pot using a whisk. Then cook it on low-medium heat stirring continuously. When the dough starts to leave the sides of the pot and forms into a dough, turn off heat. Put the dough over a sheet of foil or parchment paper on a flat surface, let it cool for sometime and then and knead it. This playdough will keep fresh for up to 2 weeks when stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
-If the dough seems to be too sticky, try adding some more flour or oil
-If you need to add a little sheen to the playdough, try adding some glycerine to the dough

I tried out the playdough recipe with jello today because that is what I had at home. And I wanted to try something different than the standard no-cook method. Aaliyah was excited to be my helper. She helped me mix the ingredients with her wooden spoon and then knead the dough when it was cool enough for her little hands. The dough was a light shade of red. Aaliyah added a little bit of blue food color to the dough that she was kneading. It gave her a bluish-greyish colored playdough. She was happy with the result. The dough is soft and smells fruity. It lasts longer when you keep it in air tight containers. I just tossed the dried up playdough and refilled the containers with the ones that we made. I never thought making playdough would be so easy. I am so glad that I don't have to buy playdough anymore. Yeah!
Have fun with your homemade playdough!

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