By Helen McCormack Laas
Simple to use.
Easy to make.
Playdough can be made from the ingredients found in most kitchen cupboards. (There is a super easy recipe at the end.) And best of all, are the benefits of spending some quality time with your little ones and a blob of dough.
Build those muscles:
In school, children need to hold a pen or pencil and write for extended periods of time, it is necessary to develop fine muscle strength, fine motor control and coordination. Just like developing those great abs that you get from spending hours at the gym, developing hands that are able to strong and well-coordinated required hours of hard work. The good news is that this can be fun with playdough:
roll lots of little balls and squash them with your thumb
- rolling long sausages/snakes
- pinch them from left to right
- then squash them with your finger
- make a man… roll a ball for his head and sausages for his body, arms and legs
- squash dough into a cube and a pyramid. Put the pyramid on the cube to make a house
Schools have received criticism for quelling creativity in children, expecting them to produce work in a production line manner, where output that is indistinguishable from the next is praised. Many children come home tired from sitting still for hours on end, irritable from working too hard instead of learning through play. Children are expected to colour in the lines, and use the right colours, and Picasso-esque designs are frowned upon. Well, playdough, has no lines where children are unidirectional coloring is required. You can roll, squash, pull, push, cut and squish to your heart’s content. Children create three dimensional constructions from their imaginations out of a medium that tends to have a mind of its own, drooping and stretching under its own weight.
Learn How Colours Work:
Having playdough in one colour is just fine. Having it in two is even better. And having it in three colours is awesome! Break your dough into three parts and add a drop or two of different colour food-colouring to each one. If you go with red, yellow and blue, you have the primary colours set up for your little one to make all the colours of the rainbow.
Develop Observation Skills:
Creating three dimensional objects from memory encourages children to think about the world around them in terms of shape, space and size. They have to need to design and plan their creations in their minds and then make it. And if it doesn’t turn out the way they planned, it doesn’t matter because it is just going to get squashed up again, and put in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Sensopathic play, or play which involved the senses and textures, is great for relieving tension. Making dough softer or harder changes its texture. Children (and grown-ups) who have had a bad day can work out their tension by kneading dough with big movements, squish
ing it through their finger like a stress-ball, or rolling a ball and the bashing it flat.
Take a multisensory approach: Add a few drops of essential oils of lavender for soothing playdough, or geranium for a happy feel.
So next time you want to put your grumpy child down in front of the television so that you can cook supper, try putting them at the kitchen counter with a blob of playdough. This way, they can spend some wholesome quality time with you… and you might just find that everyone ends up a whole lot happier all round.
Easy Playdough Recipe
1 cup cake flour
1 cup lukewarm water
½ cup salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon cooking oil
Mix all the ingredients in a pot over a low heat until the mixture starts to look like mashed potatoes in the middle of your pot. If the mixture I still sticky continue cooking and mixing until it is not sticky.
Remove the pot from the stove and allow to cool before adding colour and or essential oils
Store in a plastic bag or container in the fridge between use.