Thursday, October 25, 2012

Erik's First Play Dough Adventure

This is one I've been meaning to try for a while now, and have just never gotten around to doing it. I've been waiting for a time to mix up the play dough when Erik was asleep so that I didn't have to try to keep him out from underfoot, and then I realized, why not get him involved?! (Duh, right? I'm not the brightest crayon in the box, am I)

I gathered the supplies we'd need, put Erik in his high chair, and away we went. This recipe is so easy to make, give it a try!

Let's gather our supplies:

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 TBS oil
3/4 cup water colored with food coloring

Mix the dry ingredients. Add the water and oil gradually. Add more water if the dough is too dry, or add more flour if it is too sticky. The oil preserves the dough and keeps it soft so it can be used many times. Store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. 

I found that this dough dried out quickly, so I added a little bit more oil, and then whenever it seemed to be getting hard to work with I'd dampen my hands with a little bit of water and knead the water into the dough. It doesn't take much water. The other thing I found is that if you have any hang-nails, paper cuts, etc than the salt in this dough burns! So, check your hands and your little ones hands for cuts/scrapes/sores before using this. Despite those two drawbacks, this is a pretty good play dough and is super cheap to make. I think we'll be experimenting with different recipes though, so keep your eyes peeled for those to come. When I find our favorite I'll be sure to let you know! (update 1/12/15, THIS is our new favorite play dough and has been for a while)
Erik and I each took a stirring spoon and helped stir the dry ingredients together. I didn't stop Erik when he decided to do a little bit of hands-on exploration. It's just flour and salt, it's not going to hurt him. 
It was funny, he didn't seem to mind the taste when it was dry, but once it was wet the salt was too much for him. 
Erik spent several minutes just watching the flour pour through his fingers. 
I gave Erik a variety of tools to play with and let him explore. He loved to stab the dough with a fork (or even just his finger) and make impressions in it. I showed him how to do a hand print but he wasn't too impressed. He also really loved picking it up by the handful and just squeezing it as hard as he could. 
This activity probably killed about 45 minutes of our morning. Erik was completely engrossed. I'm excited to pull out our play dough again in the next day or two and watch him do more exploring.
Play dough is an EXCELLENT way to strengthen those fine motor muscles that a child will need to write, hold scissors, and do so many other things. It also allows a child to explore new textures, and to make a creation unique to them. So much fun in so few ingredients!

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