All in all it is an activity that gives a child a whole variety of skills to practice and sensations to experience.
Last week we had a lot of rainy chilly days here in Colorado. We still had our daily nature walks with the children at the school, but also got to spend a good share of time in the cabin warming up, being cozy and having fun learning things. We read books about eagles and the children had fun imagining being eagles and flying around catching fish. We played hide and seek, which turned into a game of an owl searching for little mice. And the children also built beautiful towers with wooden blocks. But the biggest hit of all was making our own play dough! Everyone loved it from the youngest kids to the oldest ones. Boys and girls were all engrossed into the creative process that is a bit of chemistry, a bit of cooking and a whole lot of artistry on their part!
So before we share the recipe and what we use to get different beautiful colors naturally or to decorate our creations we wanted to share what makes making the play-dough with children such a great activity that benefits and invokes many of their skills and sensations.
Learning real life skills and self-reliance
Making play dough reflects our belief that craft time for children should be aimed at showing children how they can create things on their own from scratch, and how they can use what nature provides instead of being dependent on things purchased from a store. In learning real-life skills, children gain knowledge, self-reliance and pride, all of which are priceless!
Fine motor skills, tactile, color and smell
While making play dough children not only learn how to make it, but they work through a variety of sensory activities — tactile, smell and colors. As we use various spices, vegetable juices and powders to color the dough children also are introduced to the concept of color mixing and how combining colors together will create a new color.
And of course there are skills learned from rolling, molding, cutting and decorating. All in all it is an activity that gives a child a whole variety of skills to practice and sensations to experience.
Completely free of chemicals and
truly safe for children
Our skin is our biggest organ. When children play with play-dough they rub it, squeeze it and for a long period of time have it in active contact with their skin. Most commercial play dough products use various chemicals as part of their manufacturing. Even things that may seem as innocent as food-coloring are still artificial chemicals, and sadly it is all too often we learn that things that FDA allowed on the market were in fact untested and later found harmful. So to be on the safe side we prefer to stay with beautiful plant-based colors from organic vegetables, berries and spices. This way as children rub the dough in their hands or occasionally decide to even taste it — it is no different than touching or eating good organic ingredients we use in food.
Sustainable and zero-waste
Last, but not least here at our forest school stewardship for nature is an essential part of everything we do and try to inspire in children. And DIY play dough fits right in, as you can make it using only natural organic materials and most of them you can find in plastic-free packaging — so no chemicals, no plastic wrappings, no single use containers. Just food, water, some salt and citric acid and herbs!
And when the kids are done with it — just compost it and it is back into the circle of nature feeding new life.