The Importance of Play-Dough

As parents, many of us cringe at the thought of dragging out play-dough and all of the small tools and contraptions that go with it.  We think about the mess it will leave behind and we tell our kids “not today.”

But play-dough has a valuable place in our children’s lives.  When toddlers mash, squeeze, and roll play-dough they develop the muscles they need later to hold a pencil.  When preschoolers use a recipe to make their own play-dough at home they learn science, math, and cooking skills.  For all children (and adults) play-dough provides an opportunity for creativity and endless possibilities.To make your child’s experience more meaningful, leave out the store-bought play-dough, toys, and tools.  Use the following recipe to make your own and allow your child to do the measuring, mixing and pouring.  Allow your child to play with the dough using just their hands or use real tools from around your home, such as rolling pins, cups, and anything that can make indentions or patterns or be used as a stencil.  You could even add glitter to the dough or add essential oils for an additional sensory experience.  Sit back, and without coaching or commenting, let your children’s imagination direct their play!

Play-dough

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups salt
  • 3 cups water (food coloring if desired)
  • 5 tbs oil
  • 6 tsp cream of tartar
  • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and mix with an electric hand mixer.  Pour the dough mixture into the pan on the stove.  Stirring constantly, cook over med-low heat until a ball forms.  Take out of the pan and knead.  When cool, store in an airtight container or Ziploc.

Variations

  • Chocolate Play-dough – 2 cups water, ½ cup salt, 2 tsp cream of tartar, 2 tbs oil, 1/3 cup cocoa, 2 cups flour.
  • Pumpkin Bread Play-dough – 1 package pumpkin bread mix, 2 cups flour, 1 ½ cups salt, 6 tbs oil, 6 tsp cream of tartar, 3 cups water.
  • Lemon Poppy Seed Play-dough – 1 package lemon poppy seed muffin mix, 2 cups flour, 1 ½ cups salt, 6 tbs oil, 6 tsp cream of tartar, 3 cups water.
  • Strawberry Cake Play-dough – 1 package strawberry cake mix, 2 cups flour, 1 ½ cups salt, 6 tbs oil, 6 tsp cream of tartar, 3 cups water.
  • Coffee Play-dough – 3 cups flour, 1 ½ cups salt, 6 tbsp oil, 6 tsp cream of tartar, 3 cups water, the used wet grounds from the morning coffee.