Dandelion Playdough Invitation-to-Play

lizzie homemaker spring dandelion playdough invitation to play
The dandelions are in full bloom here (thanks to Toronto’s ban of toxic lawn chemicals) and my 4-year-olds absolutely love them. I set out this playdough invitation-to-play and it kept them busy for over an hour!

Dandelions are a perfect flower for kids to explore.  These sunny looking wildflowers grow abundantly in the spring – and kids are allowed to pick them!

They also serve as food for birds (namely goldfinches and house sparrows) and bees, they’re good for soil health, and they’re a nutritious edible plant with promising medicinal uses.

lizzie homemaker spring dandelion playdough invitation to play
This dandelion themed playdough invitation-to-play was a hit with my 4-year-olds. They loved ripping apart the flowers and kneading them into the dough.

Dandelion Playdough

Lately my littles have had a bit of a tough time at school. I thought it would be nice to set out a welcoming playdough invitation-to-play inspired by their favourite spring wildflower. It's a fun activity that helps them relax and work out their stress at the end of the week. To further uplift their mood I added a few drops of essential oils in refreshing citrus scents (a blend of bergamot, orange, lime, grapefruit and lemon).

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil, such as canola oil
  • yellow food colouring

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan.
  2. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly for about 4-5 minutes.  The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and should no longer be sticky to the touch.  (If it’s still sticky cook a little longer until it’s not.)
  3. Remove the dough from the pot and allow to cool slightly.  Knead until it’s uniform.
  4. Set out dough with a bunch of fresh dandelions and a variety of textures and tools that invites the children to manipulate and explore the theme in any way they choose.

Store dough in an air-tight container.

Cherry Scented Playdough

Lizzie Homemaker's Cherry Scented Playdough Play Dough
This insanely delicious smelling playdough is so uplifting and inviting. My kids absolutely adore it.

I love you cherry much!

…And so for Valentine’s Day I made you this delicious smelling playdough that is taste-safe (because I know you like to lick playdough behind my back.)

Cherry Scented Playdough

I have one kid that can't resist licking playdough. This recipe is made with kitchen ingredients so I can relax knowing it's safe for her if she sneaks a taste. (That said I am still trying to break her of the habit...)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil, such as canola oil
  • red food colouring
  • 1/2 tsp cherry flavoring (also known as candy oil)

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan.
  2. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly for about 3-5 minutes.  The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and should no longer be sticky to the touch.  (If it’s still sticky cook a little longer until it’s not.)
  3. Remove the dough from the pot and allow to cool slightly.  Knead until it’s uniform.

Store dough in an air-tight container.

Candy flavoring (candy flavouring oil, candy oil) can be found at baking supply stores near the extracts.  I have found LorAnn candy oil at both Bulk Barn and Micheals.

 

 

Cozy Clove Playdough

Lizzie Homemaker's all natural cozy clove playdough
This all-natural clove playdough is made with kitchen ingredients and it smells like a hug in the middle of winter.

The warm and spicy scent of clove perfumes this playdough – which makes it an incredibly soothing and relaxing after-school activity to come home to.

Playdough is a lovely sensory activity which promotes self-regulation, attention, focus, and calmness.  Combining scents can heighten that experience.  It’s also a good way for kids to release stress.

Natural Clove Playdough Recipe

The warm and spicy scent of clove is incredibly soothing on a gloomy winter's day.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp of ground clove
  • 2 tbsp oil

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for about 3-5 minutes.  The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and should no longer be sticky to the touch.  (If it’s still sticky cook a little longer until it’s not.)
  3. Remove the dough from the pot.  Allow to cool slightly and knead.
  4. OPTIONAL  Pair dough with whole cloves (they’re great for pincer grasp practise)

Store dough in an air-tight container.

Cedarwood Scented Playdough

We love scenting our playdough.  In fact, these days we never make it unscented.  Heads would roll.

Although we often add spices and kitchen ingredients to create various scents lately we have found ourselves using essential oils more often than not.  There is such a broad range to choose from and it’s so dang easy to simply add a couple of drops of oil to the dough and elevate this sensory activity.

The scent of cedarwood is warm and woodsy – perfect for cozy days inside during the holidays.  It is said to improve focus, relieve tension and headaches, and help with breathing when you have a cough or cold.  My little ones basically have colds and coughs consistently from November to March so that last benefit really appeals to me.

Lizzie Homemaker cedarwood scented playdough with Christmas tree inspired loose parts
Cedarwood scented playdough with Christmas tree inspired loose parts.

Cedarwood Scented Playdough

This Christmas I've been making a cedarwood scented playdough with Christmas tree inspired loose parts. I wasn't sure how the kids would react to the smell but wanted to try something a little different. The warm and woodsy scent immediately makes you feel relaxed and cozy, so, needless to say, they loved it.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil, such as canola oil
  • dark green food colouring
  • cedarwood essential oil

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients, except for the essential oil, in a heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for about 4 or 5 minutes.  The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and should no longer be sticky to the touch.  (If it’s still sticky cook a little longer until it’s not.)
  3. Remove the dough from the pot and allow to cool slightly.  Add several drops of cedarwood essential oil and knead dough until it’s uniform and the oil is fully incorporated.

Store dough in an air-tight container.

Not sure what to do with your bottle of cedarwood essential oil?

Here are some uses that I’ve read about and am interested in exploring:

To treat eczema:  Many people add a few drops of cedarwood oil to coconut oil and apply it topically.  They say it is an effective home remedy in treating eczema.  One of my daughters has eczema and I’m always looking for alternative, more natural solutions for treating her skin.

As a bug repellant – including moths:  I can’t stand mothballs and refuse to use them.  For many years I have put cedar in our closets but the smell fades and it becomes ineffective as a moth deterrent.  Adding cedarwood essential oil to cotton balls sounds like a great alternative mothballs – one that I am going to try this winter.

To reduce arthritis:  I recently sold some playdough at a craft show and was amazed that many of the purchases made were for adults, including a woman who said her elderly mother loves using playdough to combat her arthritis.  Inhaling cedarwood oil and using it on your skin is said to reduce inflammation and reduce joint stiffness.  Based on this, the combo of cedarwood oil and playdough is probably worth trying by those with arthritic hands and fingers.

To treat ADHD:  Many people site a study by Terry S. Friedman where he effectivity used cedarwood oil and vetiver oil in the treatment of children diagnosed as having ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder).  It’s promising but this case study was so small that I think this treatment should only be considered effective for some on a case by case basis.  I have several friends with children on the Autism Spectrum, with ADHD, or with SPD (sensory processing disorder).  Playdough can be an effective therapy tool.  I’d love to better understand how adding scents to playdough can benefit those kids in my life.

The information above is NOT intended as medical advice.  I am simply sharing information that I’ve read.  You should always seek advice from a qualified health care professional before proceeding with treatment of any health issue.

Pumpkin Pie Playdough

Lizzie Homemaker easy homemade pumpkin pie playdough made with pumpkin pie spice
We’ve been celebrating the season with this festive pumpkin pie playdough.

The kids went nuts when they saw this little playdough pumpkin pie.  I set it out for them when they got home from school.  They immediately dove into the activity using their social skills and math skills to negotiate how to divide up the pie.  They cut, counted and distributed the pieces then they smooshed it up to create new things.  Playdough is a great toy – and even when it’s presented as something specific (like a pie in this case) – it still ends up in open-ended play.

Pumpkin Pie Playdough Recipe

The warm scent of pumpkin pie spice is so cozy and relaxing. Perfect for chilly fall days.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp of pumpkin spice
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • add orange food colouring for pumpkin pie filling, leave it out for the crust colour

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan.
  2. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly for about 4 or 5 minutes.  The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and should no longer be sticky to the touch.  (If it’s still sticky cook a little longer until it’s not.)
  3. Remove the dough from the pot.  Allow to cool slightly and knead.
  4. Form into a pie or play with as is.

Store dough in an air-tight container.

 

Best Homemade Playdough Recipe

I make playdough all the time.  And I strongly prefer cooked playdough.  It has a nice texture and keeps well so it can be enjoyed for months.

My kids love it and I love knowing that it supports their learning and development.

Playdough is an open-ended toy that promotes creative and imaginative play as well as a child’s social and emotional development.   It helps improve hand-eye coordination and strengthens those fine motor skills used in hand-writing.

It’s more than just a fun activity that keeps them busy (but I like that about it, too).

lizzie homemaker hydrangea inspired playdough
This hydrangea inspired playdough was a big hit with the littles. To create a relaxing floral scent I added a couple drops of geranium rose essential oil to the dough.

Best Homemade Playdough Recipe

Making playdough is easier than you think and the possibilities are endless. Switch up the colours and add scents to match the seasons or complement current interests.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • food colouring

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan.
  2. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly for about 4 or 5 minutes.  The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and should no longer be sticky to the touch.  (If it’s still sticky cook a little longer until it’s not.)
  3. Remove the dough from the pot.  Allow to cool slightly and knead.

Store dough in an air-tight container.

I like icing gel colours.  They are vivid and come in a greater variety of colours than liquid food colouring.

Essential oils and glitter can be kneaded into the dough at the end to add scent and sparkle.

Rainy Day Things-To-Do

Lizzie Homemaker kids finger painting with chocolate pudding on a rainy day
Finger painting with chocolate pudding is something the kids adore doing and it requires little effort.  I keep a stash of pudding cups in the pantry specifically for this rainy day activity.

This spring embrace rainy days at home by creating a fun things-to-do list for the kids.

Last week it was pouring rain and my kids couldn’t have been any happier.  We’ve found the best rainy days are slow ones where we enjoy spending time together with options but no specific plans.  We go with the flow and it’s lovely.

Our strategy is to create a list of fun activities.  We brainstorm ideas on the chalkboard in our dining room and leave the list up during those rainy weeks in the early spring, checking off activities as we go.  You could just as easily write a list on a piece of paper and post it anywhere in your house, allowing the littles to enjoy a self-guided tour through the day. They may ask for help to set up activities but will spend long stretches playing freely.

25 Things To Do on a Rainy Day:

  1. Finger painting with chocolate pudding
  2. Take a bubble bath
  3. Bake something
  4. Have a tea party or indoor picnic
  5. Play dress up
  6. Take a family portrait
  7. Paint/draw portraits of each other
  8. Go outside and splash in puddles
  9. Dig for worms
  10. Build a fort
  11. Make playdough
  12. Build a bee house
  13. Snuggle up and read books together
  14. Write a letter to someone
  15. Make popcorn
  16. Watch a movie
  17. Ice and water play
  18. Look at family photos
  19. Play freeze dance
  20. Have an indoor scavenger hunt
  21. Play hide-and-seek
  22. Make paper airplanes
  23. Make jewelry
  24. Build an obstacle course
  25. Make a fruit salad

Having options but no plans is the best way to spend a rainy day at home with kids.

Playing with Ice

Sticky Ice Cube Magic Trick

kids science experiment playing with salt and ice

My five-year-old loves science experiments and she loves magic so this activity was a huge hit with her.  It can be a little finicky – too much salt or not enough contact can cause the experiment to fail but my science-minded child appreciated that.  She had to find the sweet spot.  We started the experiment with plain little ice cubes then progressed on to using coloured ice that I made in muffin tins.

You will need:

  • two ice cubes
  • salt

Directions

  1.   Sprinkle salt on top of one ice cube.
  2.   Place second ice cube on top and wait about 15 or 20 seconds.
  3.   Lift the top ice cube and see what happens.

The ice cubes should stick together – the surfaces that touch need to make solid contact with each other so put the two flat sides together.

If you put too much salt on the ice then the cubes just continue melting. All you want is for the ice cubes to melt slightly then refreeze in order to stick together.

Creating Ice Sculptures

Ice sculpture made by Lizzie Homemaker's child
The ice sculptures made by the kids were really beautiful. My 5-year-old made this one.

This ice activity was a fun one to continue with after the Sticky Ice Cube Magic Trick. We started with plain little ice cubes then progressed to making ice sculptures using coloured ice that I made in muffin tins and a variety of empty plastic containers.

You will need:

  • a large tray or plastic bin that can contain ice and water
  • various blocks of ice (directions below)
  • salt (I provided table salt and epson salt)

Directions

  1.   Freeze water in empty yogurt containers, muffin tins, ice cube trays and random plastic containers to create ice in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Add food colouring if you wish to have coloured ice.
  2.   Show the kids how to “stick” two pieces of ice together by adding a little salt to one piece of ice and placing another on top.
  3.   Let them play, experiment and be creative.

When the kids were generous with the salt, the ice didn’t stick but it would mold and form complimentary divots allowing for the sculpture building to continue.

I also extended this activity by giving them a couple of containers with water and some turkey basters to suction up the water and squirt it on top of their sculptures.