Thursday, May 2, 2013

screen-free week: play dough

Painting, drawing, sculpting and crafts of all kinds are great ways to give children
a creative but focused outlet for their imaginations.  

Many parents find that meal preparation times are an especially difficult hour to keep kids occupied and free of screens. When having children help with cooking is not an option, dough modeling can be a fun way to engage a child’s hands, heart and mind while parents are busy.

Every child loves to shape malleable materials and children can parallel adult kitchen activities by pretending to bake and cook or they can use whatever inspires them to sculpt shapes, figures and even tell stories through the medium of dough.

 I can make it 
You will see 
I roll and squeeze 
Then one, two, three 
From my hands 
Something will grow 
What it will be 
I don’t yet know...
a castle... 
an elephant...
a spider... 
a vase... 
a flower...
a snake... 
a cave... 
a tree...
what will it be? 
what will it be?

 “Children love to practice rolling out with a rolling pin and cutting shapes with cookie cutters. I have a collection of small animal- shaped cookie cutters, and after they have rolled and cut a few, I then encourage the children to play with them at the table. They can roll a little more play dough to make fences, or a barn, or nests. This encourages them to use their hand- dexterity in service of their imaginative skills. Great training for life!”
                                                        - from Heaven on Earth by Sharifa Oppenheimer

To make your own play dough, try this easy recipe:

 Play Dough
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/3 cup salt
2 Tblsp. cream of tartar
1 Tblsp. vegetable oil
food coloring

In a medium sized pot mix flour, salt and cream of tartar.  Add water and oil. Stir over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes.

Once the dough forms a ball, remove from heat and allow it to cool. Once cool, knead the dough on a floured surface. 
That's it!  You've got play dough!  If you'd like to add some color...


Separate into various balls (depending on how much of each color you would like).  Indent each ball and drop food coloring into indentation.  (For the colors seen here I used 10 drops.)

Knead until the color is distributed evenly throughout the dough.  Once the coloring is mixed into the dough it will, oddly, not stain hands or surfaces.  (During the initial kneading, however, watch those clothes, countertops and hands!)

Store in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag.

“Artistic expression is an essential element of a balanced “diet” of experience for our young children. In artistic work, we accomplish two essential tasks of childhood: the training of the hand and the training of the heart. Together these lay a firm foundation for the training of the mind.”
                                       - from Heaven on Earth by Sharifa Oppenheimer

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