The weather is gradually turning cooler, and soon it will be too cold to play outside. “How will I ever survive,” you ask yourself, “with my children indoors all winter?” Just keep them busy! Busy children are happy children, and they will also be less likely to get into trouble at your expense.
Play dough (or real dough) is a wonderful way to engage your children, if you can withstand a bit of a mess for a short while. Not only is play dough fun for children, it is also an activity that will improve many of their developmental skills.
Here are some of the skills that children are working on when playing with dough of any variety (taken from “Writing Out of the Box” by Marianne Gibbs):
-Hand strength (mixing, scooping)
-Eye-hand coordination (pouring, placing, measuring)
-Forearm rotation (pouring)
-Palmar arch (pizza cutter)
-Bilateral coordination (spoon with mixing bowl)
-Sensory awareness (touch, sight, smell)
Here is an easy, fail-safe play dough recipe that will last a long time, if stored in an airtight container or sealed zip-lock bag. Pour 1 cup of boiling water into a bowl. Add to that 2 cups of flour; 1 tablespoon vegetable oil; ½ cup of salt; 1 tablespoon cream of tartar; food coloring (optional). Mix well and play! Once the mixture cools down a bit, you can have your children help you to mix it together.
In addition to building all sorts of creations, younger kids can be encouraged to make letters and numbers out of the play dough. Happy creating!