Over the holidays we tried a different kind of play dough at home, a very fragrant soft dough using only two ingredients. Now, I’m not sure where I saw or heard of this combination to make play dough originally, but a mum from playgroup had mentioned it recently, only not the quantities required, so we did a bit of trial and error.
I used blueberry and coconut conditioner that we had in the bathroom (technically it was L’s, but it was the nicest smelling stuff we had at the time…) Oh, and it was a cheap conditioner despite the lovely smell, so it kept the cost of our little experiment down.
After mixing and adding and mixing some more, I came to the conclusion that the consistency was pretty good somewhere around one part conditioner to two parts cornflour. However, it still seemed a bit closer to slime than to dough, as it just wasn’t all that great at holding its shape. I did try adding more cornflour to the mix, but the boys declared they liked it as it was. I chose not to add any food colouring as the dough became a very pale blue from the colouring in the conditioner.
Both boys enjoyed the sensory experience, of the touch and smell of the dough. They squeezed it, and poked it, rolled it in their hands and stretched it. I did have to stop T2 from playing with it after a while though because he kept eating it (despite many warnings and admonishments, and what I can only imagine was a terrible taste!) T1 continued to play with the dough for quite a while, fascinated at the way it felt and moved in his hands.
It kept for a couple of days covered, but it was starting to dry out a little by then. It was fun and easy to make, so we would probably make it again.
We love playing with slime, it’s just so much fun. Normally we just make up a tubful, using about half a kilo of cornflour plus water and food colouring. This time we used our blow-up drinks cooler (which looks like a small paddle pool), and we added about seven kilos of cornflour, plus water. If I’d had any more cornflour I would have used it!
Happy in the slime.
This was definitely an outside activity. All the kids put on their swimmers (and sunscreen), and then we got to it. L and A helped me put all of the cornflour into the drinks cooler, and then I added some water and the kids mixed it all up.
A got splattered with slime by her brothers.
Predictably, the kids all got into the drinks cooler and sat, jumped and squished through the slime. At one point all four of them were in the cooler at the same time! They covered themselves and each other in slime, they mashed it between their fingers, and they “swam” in it. They love that the slime is both a liquid and a solid, pulling globs of it up into the air and then letting it drop and stream back down through their fingers. It was so thick in its solid state that the boys could actually stand on it and it supported them!
This was a great way to spend a hot afternoon. We all had a lot of fun. At the end, everyone was hosed off in the yard, and then went inside to bathe. The slime comes off the skin quite easily in the water, but they all needed to wash it thoroughly out of their hair!
Squishing slime through her toes.
L letting slime drip from her fingers onto her brother.
Shapes cut out of the dough.
My kids all love playing with playdough, it is fun and great for fine motor skills and creativity. The toddlers have even mostly stopped trying to eat it now! I prefer to make my own playdough as it is easy to make and cheaper than the store-bought products. I almost always have all the ingredients in the pantry too, so I can make it whenever we like.
I’ve always felt that the playdough recipe on the side of the cream of tartar tin makes the best playdough. It needs to be cooked, but it is smooth, soft and long lasting every time. We added blue food colouring for the colour and vanilla essence to make it smell nice. A helped me to stir it in the saucepan until it began to clump together, then we turned it out onto a cutting board and kneaded it for a couple of minutes to make sure it was nice and smooth.
Mixing all the ingredients in a saucepan.
Fresh blob of dough.
Once the playdough was ready, the lids sat up at the table to use it. They moulded it with their hands, cut out shapes with cookie cutters, and rolled it into balls and snakes. T2 enjoyed just squishing it between his fingers, while L made people models. A and T1 made lots and lots of cut-outs. They also used some plastic scissors to cut the dough, rollings pins to flatten it, and plastic rollers to make patterns on the dough. Fun was had by all!
Squishing the dough.
Using a roller in the dough.
Once we were finished, I stored the playdough in an airtight container in the pantry for next time.
After gathering some green items together, we sat down to our green sensory tub. We had some ribbons, pipe cleaners, bowls, spoons, a toy train and a toy truck, muffin case, wooden and plastic trees and some green toy bugs and snakes. The boys were both very interested in the toy train and toy truck, rolling them all over the tub and the floor. They touched the fuzzy pipe cleaner, and used the spoons to scoop up the bugs. T1 tried to wear one of the bowls as a hat. T2 crinkled the muffin case, and fluttered the ribbon about his head.
Scooping from the bowl.
T2 had a lot of fun moving the snakes and bugs about, and using the spoons. He pretended to scoop food out of the bowls and eat it off the spoon. After a bit, T1 tossed all of our green items out of the tub and sat in the tub himself! We talked about the colour of his clothes, but he wasn’t wearing anything green! He liked repeating the word “green” after me, and finding things about the house that were also green.
Making the snake ride the truck.
On a cold winter’s afternoon we pulled out our tub and filled it with red objects to create a sensory tub for the boys. We had some straws, toy trains and a firetruck, tongs, a funnel and cup, pom poms and mittens.
Going straight for the train!
We explored the different textures of items within the tub. T1 kept putting the pom poms in his mouth, so I removed them before them could be swallowed! He also enjoyed touching the pipe cleaners and blowing through the straws. T2 liked the mittens, and rubbed them all over his face. He also tried putting them on his hands, and his feet.
Trying to pick up the train with the tongs.
They both loved playing with the trains and the firetruck. T2 tried to use the tongs to pick some of the other objects up, but without much success.
T1 used the funnel to make music by blowing through it like a horn. He also threaded one of the pipe cleaners through the funnel a number of times.
Throughout the fun, we talked about the colour red, and I encouraged them to say it. I pointed out other things around the room that were red, and asked them if they knew anything else that was red. They both became very excited when I started talking about red fruits, such as strawberries, apples and raspberries. We had to go for a snack after that!
Finger painting last week was so much fun, A asked if we could practice her sight words with finger paint. This time we used ordinary poster paint (Baby T was sleeping), and we squirted some into one of our play tubs. The tub was yellow, so we used green paint as it gave us a good contrast.
Squirts of paint.
Smoothing the paint around the tray.
A had a great time spreading the paint around the bottom of the tray, squishing and sliding in it. When she was ready, she smoothed the paint across the bottom of the tray, and then proceeded to use the tip of her index finger to write her words. When she had filled the tray with words, she smoothed the paint over, and wrote some more words.
Writing a word.
Writing more words.
Finger painting palette.
In order to make finger painting available for Baby T, I tried making some home-made edible paint. It probably wouldn’t taste very nice, but I just wanted something that wouldn’t hurt him if he put it in his mouth! So I mixed up a runny mixture of cornflour, water and food colouring, making it thick enough to feel like paint but thin enough to spread. It’s just a runny version of the slime we like to have sensory and messy play with.
Dipping her fingers.
Drizzling paint onto paper.
The kids had a good time spreading the paint around in the tubs, drizzling it to make patterns, and swirling it together. They squished their fingers through it, and then made some paper prints from it. The paper soaked up the coloured water from the cornflour, leaving pretty patterns on the paper. They also used it to paint directly onto paper.
Paint in the tub ready to use for prints.
Once they were finished, it all washes off with soap and water. This was an inexpensive, easy and fun activity for a lazy Saturday afternoon.
L’s finger painting of a red sunset.
Packets of cornflour.
This is the easiest way to make slime, and requires only cornflour and water. I usually add some food colouring to the mix too, for a bit of extra fun. Green is our favourite slime colour. I once made it red, and it stained everything it touched, including our skin, so no more red slime for us!
I used a kilogram of cornflour in each tub, and roughly the equivalent in water. I normally just add water while mixing until I get to a consistency that I like. Less water makes it firmer, more water makes it runnier. I tend to lean towards firmer to start, as inevitably, the kids want to add water to the mix at some point while playing with it. The food colouring can be added to the water as you mix it in, or to the already mixed slime (it’s easier to do it while mixing in the water).
The first touch.
Getting our hands slimy.
Past experience told me to get the kids into swimmers and take this activity outside. It is very messy. Afterwards I can hose the kids down, hose out the tubs and hose the mess from the grass too. Luckily it was really hot so we enjoyed playing with the hose once we were finished with the slime.
Letting her hands sink into the slime.
Previously we have used various plastic animals, cups, scoops, spoons, tongs and funnels with the slime, but the kids have just as much fun without any extra play items. It is a fascinating substance that keeps the kids entertained for ages. It is lots of fun to scoop up in our hands, squish it between our fingers, and let it ooze back into the tub. We talked about its liquid and solid properties and looked at ways of changing the pressure on the slime to cause it to solidify or to liquify. The kids tried pressing it quickly or letting their hands slide into it. And of course, eventually one of them stood in it, and then sat in it. Baby T was particularly pleased with the way it squelched up between his toes.
Baby T dropping slime on L’s head.
Ice in a tub.
It was very hot today, and baby T was feeling it. He was getting around in just his nappy, but he still felt warm. We had just turned on the air conditioning inside, so I placed some plastic mats on the floor in the lounge room and placed a sensory tub on the mats with some ice cubes in it.
Baby T was carrying around one of the bath squirters and a Little People cow, so he tossed those straight into the ice, and then sat down and started picking it up. He liked how cool it was.
Playing with the ice.
He ate quite a few pieces of ice, so I am glad that I used only the clean ice that we use in drinks! He also rubbed the ice cubes over his face, legs and body. He moved them around, and played with the water as the ice began to melt. Inevitably, he upended the tub of ice and water over his head and shrieked with laughter.
Rubbing ice on his chin.
This was a cheap and easy activity to help him cool down and have fun. He spent a little while playing with this tub on his own before his sisters came to join him. He became very possessive of the melting ice and screamed at L and A when they took bits of ice to eat!
There wasn’t much of a clean up as the kids ate most of the solid pieces of ice, and the water on the mats was easily soaked up with a towel and the mats put outside to dry.
The shaken bottle.
One of the preschool classes at school made some pirate treasure bottles as part of their pirate theme. A was intrigued by the treasure bottles, and wanted to make one at home. The bottle contained a variety of items, including sand, coloured water, glitter, beads, pebbles and other crafty materials.
The bottle and some of the treasures.
We used a clear plastic bottle to place our treasures in. Some of the treasures included plastic beads, coloured plastic, sparkly pom poms, cut up plastic straws, some broken loom bands, and lots and lots of glitter. The kids took turns adding treasures to the bottle, then I used a funnel to add silver and gold glitter. Once all our treasures were in the bottle, I filled it with water and tightened the lid. For bottle crafts like this, I normally add glue to the thread of the lid before screwing it back on too, so that the lid doesn’t accidentally come off and result in a huge mess.
Tipping the bottle upside down.
Watching the contents settle.
The kids squeezed the bottle, tipped it upside down, and shook it. They watched to see what sank and what floated. They watched as the contents settled and swirled. They were mesmerised.