Young children just love to play with play dough! It is not only fun to squeeze, squish, and mold, but it also helps in supporting children’s fine motor development, hand strength, and dexterity. This moldable dough can keep children occupied for hours while learning colors, shapes, patterns, and letters. According to Scholastic Parent & Child, recent research also shows that using your fingers and hands actually stimulates your brain and increases the number of neural connections it makes.
What you can do with dough:
- Changing colors- Mix different combinations of colored play dough to make new colors. Try primary colors first such as red and blue make purple; red and yellow make orange. Then go crazy and mix all different colors together and see what you can come up with. The children will love their crazy colored dough while learning what different colors make when mixed together.
Make a Snake- Show the children in your care how to roll sections of dough on a table to make long “snakes”. Press two holes at one end for eyes and bend the snake into a squiggly shape. When they’re dry have the children paint them and give them as a gift. Try our Little Tikes Endless Adventures® Easy Store Table for a large surface area to make your squiggly snakes! And our table is plastic, so it’s easy to clean up, too!
Shapes and Patterns- Use the play dough to make simple shapes such as circles, triangles, and squares and have the children in your care tell you the name of each. Then you can use the shapes to make patterns such as triangle, circle, square, triangle, circle, square and so on.
Letters and Numbers- Incorporate Little Tikes into your play time with our Foam Letters & Numbers. Have the children in your care spell out their names with these foam letters and numbers then put them on a large rolled out section of colorful play dough. Let it dry, and then send it home with them as a nice decoration for their rooms.
Bake a Cake- Think outside the box a little with this one and try using the Little Tikes Perfect Sweetheart™ Bake Set for heart shaped pieces of dough. The children will love using their imagination while “baking” a heart shaped cake to take home as a great Mother’s Day gift.
- 4 cups of plain flour
- 4 cups of hot water
- 2 cups salt
- 4 tbsp of cooking oil
- Food coloring (optional) or Kool-Aid (use different flavors for different colors and aromas)
- 1 tablespoon cream of tartar (optional) for each cup of flour (this stops the dough cracking and makes it stretchy)
- Gather the necessary ingredients and mix the dry ingredients together.
- Add food coloring or Kool-Aid to the water. This optional step will create colored play dough.
- Consider adding other fun ingredients to change the texture or appearance of the dough (such as dried coconut, or cocoa powder). You can also use peppermint or other oils to give the dough a different smell. Be careful that these enticing smells don’t tempt the child to eat it, though.
- Mix all of the ingredients in a large pan and heat it over medium heat.
- Stir constantly until the dough feels like stiff, smooth, mashed potatoes. At this point, take it off the stove. Once it has cooled enough, knead it until it is blended smoothly.
- Store the dough in an airtight container, like a Ziploc® bag.