Homemade Playdough for Multisensory Learning

I make a lot of things from scratch in my home.  A lot of our food is made the old fashioned way, from scratch–without the aid of a boxed or packaged-mix.  I do this partly to prevent ingestion of preservatives, dyes, and other harmful chemicals, and partly to stretch our budget.  I also make a lot of our school supplies by hand; a little creativity goes a long way, and since kids are generally less particular than adults, it doesn’t take much sometimes to make something that thrills kids.

I’ve been making our playdough myself since Winter was two.  The recipe was given to me by the developmental therapist who was coming to see us regularly at that time.  I’ve since given up the assistance of professionals regarding Winter’s possible autism-spectrum disorders, but we still make good use of the playdough recipe that I’ve deemed “Really Great Homemade Playdough”.

Playdough is a terrific manipulative for any child, but especially for children who might be struggling with some sensory issues.  It’s calming to sit working with the dough; it can help children to clear their mind, focus–I like to use it before school-sessions sometimes, to help Winter prepare himself for what’s expected of him during lessons.  Play dough is also a great tool to use if your child struggles with fine-motor skills.  Winter has difficulty with handwriting, and with using scissors (basically anything that requires more nimble hand-action), so again, playdough is a benefit to help him strengthen and practice using those muscles that he has less control over.

This recipe is very soft, and smooth, so it’s pleasant to use.  The kool-aid fragrance is invigorating, but we’ve also used cinnamon and cloves in dough, particularly in the fall season and around Thanksgiving.  The fragrances only add to the sensory experience, which makes it an enjoyable experience and easy to entice a reluctant learner into participating.

REALLY GREAT HOMEMADE PLAYDOUGH

1) Sift in a Large Bowl:
2-1/2cups flour
1/2cups salt
2packages kool-aid(for color)

2) Bring to a boil 2cups water.
Have ready 3tablespoons any oil.

3) Add boiling water to sifted mixture; stir with wooden spoon until well combined.  Allow to cool until you can handle it to knead the dough smooth.

4)  Store in 1gallon ziplock baggie.

I have not had good luck using food colorings on this recipe, but kids and parents alike typically like the dough, as it is soft and smooth.  I’ve even given the playdough out for Christmas gifts and birthdays, and it is an easy fix for a group activity when cousins and friends visit.  And with so many benefits it’s hard to judge such a versatile manipulative by it’s clean-up alone.

About Samantha Burns

Sam(antha) Burns is a farmer and beekeeper at the Runamuk Acres Conservation Farm in Maine. She has spent more than 20 years gardening and writing, has kept bees for more than a decade, and worked 4 years in the Call Center at Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Sam uses methods of regenerative agriculture and bee-friendly farming on her 53-acre farm, and is a passionate advocate for wildlife conservation─especially pollinators. In her spare time she enjoys writing, and tormenting her 2 teenaged sons with her banjo-playing!

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