Fostering Child Development with Playdough
Playdough!! I remember the smell of it like yesterday! Can you imagine something so simple to make with ingredients that can be found in the kitchen, could foster so many different areas childhood development! Play dough has been a staple childhood for almost a century! By sheer accident, this modality we use was created by a gentleman whose family owned a soap company back in the 1930’s. Believe it or not, it was marketed and used for wall paper glue!
The properties of playdough encourage many aspects of a child’s growth including sensory integration. Sensory integration is a form of occupational therapy in which advances the child’s sense of touch, balance and space. It can be squished and squashed, rolled it into a ball, or flattened it like a pancake. Tactile integration synthesizes fine motor skills which include small movements with use of the fingers, hands, wrists, feet and toes. The development of these skills allows our brains to differentiate sensations such as pressure, texture, traction and other elements of the object. It allows us to determine exactly what it is that we are feeling.
Playdough also sparks creativity and imagination allowing children to express themselves. Used as an art medium it promotes mental, social, spatial and emotional development. It is even cathartic, as it releases stress!
Here is an easy recipe to make play dough at home:
- 2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
- Up to 1.5 cups boiling water (adding in increments until it feels just right)
- food coloring (optional)
- essential oils (optional)
Begin with mixing the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl, add the food coloring to the boiling water then into the dry ingredients (color and oil optional). Stir continuously until it becomes a sticky, combined dough. Allow it to cool down, take it out of the bowl and knead the dough until all of the stickiness has gone. If it is still sticky, add small amounts of flour until you reach the right consistency. Store in air tight containers and it will last for months!