Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Best Toy

One of the constants in our classroom is playdough. Inexpensive, versatile and therapeutic, children know that they will always find a large ball of it when they come to school.

We begin our days at Woodland Park with what we call “Discovery Time” (e.g., free play, choice time) and for many kids, the playdough table is their daily starting point. Others use the soft, soothing dough as a refuge when play gets to loud or too wild or when their emotions start to overwhelm them. Some “bake” endless trays of playdough cookies and muffins, which they serve to their friends. Some construct buildings, invent monsters, or roll out long snakes.

Playdough is a comforting tactile experience.

Playdough is a medium for art and architecture.

Playdough is a vehicle for imaginative play.

We’ve tried a number of different playdough recipes over the years, but none combine the silkiness with the longevity of the one my mother taught me.

Teacher Tom’s Mom's Very Special Playdough Recipe

This is the recipe for one small batch. We quadruple it for classroom use.
1-cup flour
1/2-cup salt
2-teaspoons cream of tarter
1-cup water
1-Tablespoon cooking oil
food coloring (optional)
scent (optional, but recommended)

Put everything in a pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. You're looking for the dough to start separating from the sides of the pan (the time this takes depends on how big your batch is). I’ve found that the smoothest results come from stopping when it still seems like it’ll be a little too sticky. Remove and let cool for a bit on wax paper. Add color and knead to distribute color. I always add a scent (e.g., mint, wintergreen, clove, strawberry, etc.) to keep it smelling fresh.


julie said...

and moms love it too. Keeps us busy making goofy things..for some reason body parts were a common project...little feet, lifelike ears, noses...good conversation starters with the kids. I don't have to worry about directing play...just play along side of them.

Anonymous said...

Excited to try this! I just bought some Mama K's Play Clay, but it's pricey. If I can get the time to make some of our own, I'm sure it will go a long way. Thanks for the post!

Jackie@My Little Bookcase said...

Your Mum is a clever lady. This is the best play-dough recipe I've come across. Love its silky-smooth feeling in my hands.........oh, and so does my daughter.