I am always looking for new ways to create sensory experiences for Asher. Not only that, but I am a firm believer in the power of open-ended play. So anytime we can combine the two over here, we are all about it.
One of the things that checks these boxes that has always been a hit for him is playdough. He loves to roll it, cut it, create different shapes and objects and manipulate it in a variety of ways. And while children can certainly do this with your average store bought brand, I love making ours at home because not only does it enable me to be in charge of what goes in it, but it opens up the possibilities for a variety of new scents and colors to be created every time we make a batch as well.
While often times I will simply just set out a few tools or cookie cutters for Asher to use as he plays with his dough, this morning I decided to put together a few garden themed items on a tray for him to utilize to go along with the theme of Easter and springtime that we have been learning about in our home this week. I collected some items like rocks, twigs and branches from outside, and paired them with some other crafty items we had on hand.
To make our dough this morning, I started with our favorite base utilizing the following ingredients:
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup arrow root starch (you could supplement corn starch)
3/4 cup water
To create the dough, simply mix together both the starch and baking soda in a pan. Add the pan to the stovetop on medium heat, and mix in your water. Continue to mix for a few minutes until your dough begins to thicken and wrap around your spoon. Once you notice this occurring, promptly take it off of the heat and continue mixing until a ball begins to form. Then, remove the ball of dough, and allow it to cool on a plate or cutting board.
The next part is the fun part – adding the scent and/or color. Because I wanted the dough this morning to resemble “dirt” for our garden theme, I chose items that would give it that effect. After perusing our kitchen, I pulled out a scoop of my husband’s coffee grounds along with a container of cinnamon on our spice rack and set out to see what I could create. I sprinkled a little of each on top of the finished dough base and began to knead it in with my hands. I continued to do this until I arrived at the color you see below. Bonus: It also smelled like a ball of cinnamon cappuccino, which catered to both of our senses.
Once cooled, I placed all items on the tray and let Asher go to town. Not only did he use the items I presented him with to create his own garden, but he expanded upon it by creating a family of worms, by covering the rocks in the dough, and more. Not to mention I heard him sniffing that delicious dough time and again.
Have you ever made your own playdough? How about a themed sensory experience to go alongside it? Trays like this one truly only take a few minutes to set up, and can provide hours of entertainment for growing little minds!