For this week's activity I'm sharing one of those things that parents have a love/hate relationship with: play dough! Scroll to the bottom for my homemade play-dough recipe.
Play-dough is a wonderful thing! It's one of those activities that can help support your child's development in all areas and is great for younger and older children. My kindergarteners LOVE it and so do the second graders in our building who get to use it to create words and represent ideas. Play-dough is amazing for building fine motor skills and even better when you can include some tools to use like rolling pins, scissors, or stamps. Include your kiddos in the cooking part of making the play-dough and BOOM! math skills! And science? Let's talk about chemical reactions and changes.
Play-dough makes for wonderful open-ended play (meaning it can mean just about anything to a child) which makes it so beneficial. All you have to do is help make it and facilitate that conversation!
To relate our play-dough making to The Mitten, we of course made white play-dough. Basically, no coloring. Easy. But because I can't leave well enough alone, I jazzed it up with some peppermint extract. I also considered throwing in glitter (it is snow after all) but then realized I didn't have any glitter at home.
We added our woodland animals (of course at this point the bear, snow owl, and snow rabbit have all gone missing) and I always suggest D use his play-dough tools. However, I've found that he prefers to use a grown-up rolling pin or some of my other kitchen utensils. Which is fine since all of the play-dough ingredients are used for regular cooking.
We finally got our first good snowfall and I took this opportunity to discuss how the animals in the story may have felt. We compared this to our own dogs when they are outside (What is all that white stuff on the ground? How does snow feel when you are walking in it? Why do you think the animals in the book wanted to go in the mitten? What about Hazel and Timber? Do they get cold?).
This play-dough is super easy to make. It's the recipe I've been using for over 10 years since I started working in a preschool (it's typed on a piece of computer paper in comic sans for goodness sake). At school we've used craft paint to color the paint too but with mixed results so I wouldn't recommend that. At home I use food dyes or none at all. I love the smooth texture of this play-dough, it smells amazing with the peppermint (but you can use any extract of food grade oil - think: a little goes a long way) and, kept in an air tight container, will last about a month or more. I use my Kitchenaide mixer for make this so it takes like 2 seconds but at school I've always just used a bowl and spoon and had the kids help with the mixing. And, if your little one eats some, it's no big deal. And easy to use gluten-free flour if you have gluten allergies in your home!