Making our own playdough is something that the children always enjoy doing. It is cheaper than buying it from the shops, simple to do and you know exactly what is in it. 
The experience of making the dough is important in itself. The children measure out the ingredients with cups and spoons. This is easier for young children than using scales and deals with lower numbers. It makes it more toddler friendly. 

This is the recipe we use. It is a “no cook” recipe which again makes it even more toddler friendly!

  • 2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1.5 cups boiling water (adding more in small amounts IF needed)
  • food colouring (optional)
  • Something to scent the dough like Cinnamon, vanilla essence, grated orange peal.
Mix all the dry ingredients together and then add the hot water and stir. Once a dough is formed, use your hands to kneed the dough in to a ball. IT WILL BE HOT!!! Once it has cooled down enough, the children can kneed it too!

Autumn has many smells, but for me Cinnamon is always the smell that comes to mind first. Maybe because I use it in our apple crumbles that we make in great abundance through the Autumn months from foraged and gifted bags of apples!

I offered the Wildlife cutters as I felt this linked in to our current learning. Autumn and British wildlife.

Little “L” talked about how the dough felt nice and warm. Very often playdough is offered cold. This was a nice and unusual experience for her. To use fresh dough while it is still warm.

Using cutters is something that takes some practice. You need to flatten your dough first, position your cutter on to the dough so that it sits central and not hanging off the edges or you will loose bits of your cut out.

Then you have to push down firmly on all parts of the cutter so that it goes right through the dough. To start with, many young children will lay the cutter on the dough and push gently. When they lift up the cutter they have the outline but the shape does not detach from the rest of the dough. By showing the children how to push down more firmly you can help them to cut through the dough. I find that children who are stood at a low table or who kneel up on the chairs at the dinning table can manage this better than children who are sat at a table that is chest hight. They can get more force behind the cut.

Another skill that the children learn, is to take the dough out of the cutter. This can be tricky as the dough is delicate and bits can easily get stuck in the smaller parts of the cutter. Little “L” has learnt to use her thumbs to push the dough out while holding the cutter up with the rest of her fingers. 

Those finger muscles get a really good work out every time they push the dough back together. The muscles strengthening are the ones that will be used when the children start to write. It helps them to develop more controlled movements ready to form letters.

There are lots of other movements that working with dough uses.
You can see here that Little “L” is pushing the dough flat using the palm of her hand. This is working other areas such as the wrists.

I think she did a great job on cutting out all these creatures!

This activity gave little “L” the opportunity to work her finger muscles by using the dough. She was  interested, motivated and immersed in her play. She made links to past use of playdough and cooking activities when she mixed the ingredients and worked the dough. She knew how to flatten the dough and use the cutters as well as how to get them out of the cutters successfully! She really enjoyed all elements of this activity and loved seeing her creatures lined up and more and more of them joining the group as she cut more of them out! 

Today’s play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas
  • Communication and Language
  • Understanding the World
  • Physical Development
  • Expressive Art and Design
  • Mathematics

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