Most of us take a quick trip back to our childhood as soon as we sink our fingers into a new batch of play dough. The scent, texture and perfect color is appreciated by adults and children alike. But there is more "learning" to be found behind the "play" in the dough. In my house and classroom homemade dough ranks above the store bought variety.
I won't go into the benefits of preparing the dough with your children (measuring, sequence of events, recipe reading,...) but trust me it's worthwhile! Here's all that you need to do:
2 cups flour
2 cups water
1 cup salt
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 Tablespoons oil
food coloring (I prefer the gel type in the small pots for baking)
Combine in a large, cool pot. This allows the little ones to help without fear of getting burned.
Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat once the dough has formed into a large ball and easily pulls away from the side of the pan and spoon. Turn dough onto waxed paper and knead.
Instead of cookie cutters, which do almost nothing to support fine motor development, give them rolling pins and child sized scissors. Demonstrate how to roll "snakes". Encourage them to use their fingers to roll small balls for added fine motor development. This is also a beneficial activity to pull out if your child needs a little calming and "time away". It's a great stress reliever!
The dough stores well in a sealed container or bag. Don't be surprised if you catch yourself enjoying the therapeutic benefits of play dough too!