Spring Herbs Play Dough

Last week the girls were begging for new play dough. Having recently seen some beautiful invitations to play on Imagination Tree, it didn’t take long to gather supplies to let them explore the abundance of herbs blooming in our garden.

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Snip some fresh herbs from the garden (peppermint, spearmint, oregano, and chive blossoms. There might be some sage on the tray, too).

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Fresh batch of green play dough, plus tools to explore.

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Lots of time to freely explore the scents, colors, tastes (herbs only!), and textures.

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They quickly transitioned into their favorite game – Princess in a Castle.

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Play dough is excellent for fine motor practice.

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It’s all kinds of beautiful! Especially the purple chive blossoms against the green dough.

I kept this play dough for a week after our activity. The girls love it and have been using it to play ice cream stand. It was still in great shape and would have lasted longer, but I can’t handle the smell of the oregano anymore… so to the trash it goes, replaced with normal grape kool-aid glitter dough.

Original inspiration credit: Natural Mint Play Dough; Natural Herbal Play Dough. Except I use my basic cooked dough recipe as follows:

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.

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Lemon Tarts Play Dough

I haven’t posted much about our sensory play lately. We’ve spent the past several months mostly stuck inside due to the weather – sub-zero temperatures and lots of snow (for this area at least). We are still doing lots of sensory play, but it hasn’t been terribly original or ground breaking. This activity turned out cute enough to share, though: Lemon Tarts!

 

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I whipped up a quick batch of lemonade scented play dough using my basic recipe (read more here) then turned the kids loose with various kitchen implements that Grace got for Christmas to use in her play kitchen. Plus glitter – there is ALWAYS glitter around here! The bowl full of lemons was just sitting there for inspiration.

Lemon Tart Play Dough at Gabi Sunshine

Aren’t these tiny tart pans the cutest?

We continue to use the play dough, but the glitter is a one-time thing. I put it away after our first use. By then the glitter is worked all the way through the dough and more just means more mess for cleaning up. These girls never get tired of playing Bakery. Every time the play dough comes out, they ask for tart pans or cake pans plus a handful of tooth picks and craft sticks for candles. It’s been their go-to game for about 5 months now.

In case you didn’t know, play dough is a great activity for developing hand strength and fine motor skills. I can tie a lot of learning in without any pressure. I offer simple ideas to direct their play in ways that work on the target skill. We used this activity to practice making balls and putting them on sticks – also known as cake pops! This reinforces shape knowledge, hand strength, and lots of coordination to actually make the balls, line them up, and get them on the stick in the middle without pushing too far.

Lemon Tart Play Dough at Gabi Sunshine

What are you playing this long, snowy winter? Without sensory play, I know we’d be going CRAZY by now!

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!

Fall Break

I’ve intentionally given myself a “fall break” from crafting and sewing. Remember fall break? Teachers had to go to conferences and you sit around for a couple days? Good times. Adulthood doesn’t have those. But at least I can hold off starting any new projects for a week while I rest and finish up a couple old projects. One is really really close to revealing – after nearly 3 years of effort!

But even in my break, creativity spins on. A quick 5min batch of glitter purple play dough, cherry play dough from a while back, and craft sticks leads to at least 45min of playing Cake Baker and many rounds of “Happy Birthday”! So sweet.

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