I can admit it! I LOVE play dough. There really is something quite therapeutic about rolling that smooth dough around, pretending to make a pie or the next grand sculpture. I would spend hours at my little table creating masterpieces. I was thrilled when my daughter started to show interest!
Play dough (whether store bought or homemade) is a wonderful way for a toddler or young child to sharpen their fine motor skills. As the child molds and manipulate the dough, they strengthen the small muscles that will later help them to cut with scissors and write with correct form, fasten buttons, zip zippers, and many more activities that require manual dexterity.
Store made play dough can be great, but we personally like homemade play dough.I use my mother’s recipe (she makes a bunch for her preschool class in August and January).
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup salt
4 tsp Cream of Tartar
2 cups water
4 tbs of vegetable oil (I like coconut oil best!)
Food coloring (liquid works but paste is better)
You can even put in a drop or two of essential oils like lavender or lemon.
1. Mix all ingredients together in a non-stick pan (electric skillet is preferred at 350).
2. Stir until it is cooked all the way through. It should not be sticky.
3. Pour out of pan onto a heat resistant surface. Let it cool for a few minutes before kneading.
4. Keep in air tight container and enjoy!
This recipe will keep for months without refrigeration.
In playing with the play dough, I did not let K okay with cookie cutters and rolling pins until she had some practice pinch and pull the dough. I had her roll ropes and make snakes. This helps build up the finger muscles.
Another suggestion is (with supervision) give the child safety scissors and let them practice “cutting” the dough. This will help teach the child to opens and close the scissors without wasting a ton of paper.