Autumn Sensory Play {And my favorite play dough recipe}

I almost titled this post, “Come on, people, it isn’t Christmas yet.” Apparently pretty much everyone in retail missed that memo… Oh well. November! The beautiful finale to the masterpiece called autumn. There’s more leaves on the ground than in the trees. The wind turns a little more brisk. Rains keep us inside. Recipes switch to more storage crops – I think I used either butternut squash or sweet potatoes every day last week. Thanksgiving is coming (even if the stores forgot it). We have much to be thankful for 🙂

And much indoor sensory play to be played!

Fall Harvest Sensory Bin

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A friend gave me a gallon bag of field corn, which the kids ADORE playing with. It makes a delightful sound when it “rains.” Everything else is from last year’s bin – silk leaves, both oak and maple; “gumball” seed pods from a tree down the street; and sparkly foam pumpkins. Plus an assortment of scoops and spoons for digging around with.

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For some reason, they’re making soup. The pumpkins are tomatoes. I don’t ask too many questions – I love their creativity! Crazy kids 😀

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Pumpkin Pie Play Dough

We love play dough around here. Last month we had some random purple sparkly mess that 9 times out of 10 was shaped into birthday cakes. I should have known showing the birthday episode from Little Einsteins would lead to much imagination play. It’s time to move on… some songs get really really annoying about the 3rd time a couple toddlers sing it. When you hit the 30th you decide to set out a new invitation to play.

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So in honor of the mass baking that will be occurring over the next week, Pumpkin Pie scented dough.

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This is my basic recipe for play dough. I always forget it, so I’m posting it here for my reference as much as for anyone else:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 T cooking oil
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup water
Food coloring or 1 Kool-Aid mix

Stir together and cook over low heat until dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the pot.

I claim no rights to it! I got it from a friend, who got it from a friend, who I think got it from one of the local preschools. But it’s almost identical to several I’ve found online. I’ve tried several different no-cook recipes and they all turn out sticky messes for me. This one has been fail-proof even if it does take a little longer. My first batch lasted 4 months of almost daily use and would have kept going if the toddler hadn’t left it out on the table overnight.

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To make it pumpkin pie scent, leave out the kool-aid. Add 1tbsp ish (I’m not big on measuring) of pie spice blend – store bought or make your own, heavy on cinnamon with a little ginger, nutmeg, allspice, etc. A little food coloring makes it pleasantly orange. On the table, I’ve added a rolling pin, muffin tin, pie plate, small spatula, sil-pat mats, and a couple cookie cutters.

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And after seeing today’s facebook link from The Imagination Tree, shakers of cinnamon and gold glitter 🙂 I buy my cinnamon in bulk at a local warehouse store and it’s over a year old, so it’s time to use it up and buy fresh. This is as good a use as any!

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Plenty of lovely autumn sensory play to get us through the last week and a half. THEN it can be Christmas, folks! It’s just not special if it goes own for 7+ weeks. Besides, I haven’t had my fill of pumpkin lattes yet!

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Autumn Friends

Grace has hit the collecting stage. No matter where we go, she picks up little found objects to carry home as treasures. So it wasn’t surprising yesterday after spending two hours at the park that the stroller was completely full of bits and pieces that just HAD to come home with us:

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And as I was looking at this collection overrunning my counter, I decided to get crafty! For at least a year now, I’ve had my eyes on Waldorf-inspired toys on Pinterest. I’ve read a good bit of the philosophy and decided that Waldorf isn’t the right fit for our family. However, some of their perspective on toys is right up my alley! Simple and natural with a big emphasis on open-ended play. Open-ended toys can be played with in many ways and hope to inspire imagination. One of my favorite Waldorf-inspired toys is peg people. And so finally, Grace has her very own set:.

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It’s surprising how expressive 2 little dot eyes can be!

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This are ridiculously easy. I picked up some doll pins and doll pin stands at my local craft store. The paint I already had. The eyes are black permanent marker. And the acorn caps are collected! I forgot my coupons so I had to pay full price, but even still, the dolls cost about $0.40 each. If you remember your coupons they’re even cheaper.

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Grace painted one herself while I made the rainbow set:

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And I couldn’t leave the perfect acorns alone. They became little friends to join the party 🙂 (paint pen and permanent marker)

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I may have gotten carried away a little bit. But since everything was already in my house, why not? I turned a tray from a Melissa and Doug set into a doll house by slipping scrapbook paper in each side. It isn’t attached, just tucked in, so that the paper can be changed on a whim. The flowers are the garden of course!

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I have at least one or two more ideas for the collected bits, like an acorn cap matching game. There’s 23 doll pins left and I have already designed 4 more based on the characters from Grace’s favorite book series. I’m really loving these nearly-instant gratification craft projects! It’s a nice change from the weeks-long, hours of work, sewing projects I’ve been doing lately.

What are you crafting this fall? I’d love to see!

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