DOUGH-ble the Fun!

As you can see, play dough has been a constant component in our home. Today, I would like to share two other simple recipes and activities you can do with your kids.

After learning about the Solar System and memorizing them, I wanted to teach Micah the different things that men use to explore the moon. When I first presented the lesson, I noticed he wanted nothing to do with it. He got bored pretty quickly and wanted to move on. This is very unlikely because he is usually engaged in concepts that are new to him. I thought about how I can make this exciting.

Again, the sensory bin came to life. The next day, I got him involved in making cloud dough for the moon surface. It is really easy and fun to do. As we knead and played with the dough inside the bin, I started introducing the different space objects once again. It sparked his interest and he paid full attention.

IMG_9262As we manipulated these objects around the bin, he quickly learned the names and their functions. This activity kept his attention for over an hour and by the end of the first 15 minutes, he was able to articulate the lesson back to me. I left him alone, busy with his new found interest in space objects for another hour or so while I got things done around the house.

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To reinforce the names of the objects, I created picture cards for each one and had him play a matching game with them the next day. I had him bury all the objects in the “moon sand” and placed all the cards face down. He then had to flip a card, name it, find the object that matched it, and place it on top of the card.

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Once he got the concept, he started playing the game by himself. I think he got it because he created his own rocket with his magnetiles during his afternoon play time. He excitedly showed me his creation and said, “Mama, this is the Saturn V Rocket!” I realized that going an extra mile to make learning more fun for your child goes a long way.

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Creating the dough and making it an exciting concept allowed him to not only enjoy learning but also encouraged him to correlate his knowledge with his imagination.

Cloud Dough Recipe Cloud Dough2 cups of flour

1 1/2 cups of oil

1. Pour the flour in a bowl.

2. Make a hole in the center of the flour.

3. Pour the oil into the hole.

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4. Mix the oil and flour together with your hands. The nice and smooth texture makes it fun to knead with your hands.

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Another fun activity we did was the volcano eruption and dinosaur sensory bin. We made the volcano with an herbal tea play dough recipe. It was the best smelling volcano I’ve ever seen erupt! As we read and learned about the dinosaurs, I saw a volcano in one of the pages and thought how fun it would be to teach him what a volcano can do.

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We quickly got our ingredients together and made ourselves a volcano. I placed some cloud dough in the sensory bin and used it as the land the dinosaurs played on. I added the volcano on the side and created a hole to represent the crater. I placed baking soda inside the hole and sprinkled a few on the outside to extend the “lava” explosion effect. As I taught him about volcanoes, I poured vinegar into the crater and kaboom! It exploded! I think it caught him off guard but his shock was overruled by amazement. The volcano erupted a couple more times after that before it was time for the dinosaurs to evacuate.

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The three of us were entertained with this experiment, even though we’ve done it multiple times. Some things just never get old! It was fun to see both of them so engaged and entertained by this simple activity. Of course, I couldn’t reuse the tea dough volcano after the eruption but since it was so easy to make, I think we will be having it around again really soon. Micah already wanted to make a new one right after that! It made our kitchen smell really good too!

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Don’t forget to clean up once you are all done. 🙂

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Tea Dough Recipe

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2 tea bags (the more bags you put, the more vibrant the color)
1 1/2-2 cups of water
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup of salt
2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
1 1/2 tablespoons of oil (you can add more if you want it to be softer)

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1. Boil the water and steep the tea bags for about 5-8 minutes.

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2. Remove the tea bags.

3. Add the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil into the pot. (Have you child help you pre-measure the ingredients.)

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4.Cook and stir over medium heat for a couple of minutes or until it forms into a ball. You can add a little water or oil if you need to.

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5. Once your ball is in the center of the pot, take your dough out and place it on a lightly floured surface.
(Warning: It can be hot!)

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6. Squeeze out the extra water from the tea bags unto the dough, tear open the bag and knead the tea leaves into the dough to add more texture.

7. Have fun!

I used raspberry tea for my volcano and it smelled really good! I should have added more tea bags but I just used up what I had. I will try with another flavor for our next one and see how that turns out. Don’t forget to share yours with me, too! You can always bust out those cookie cutters and make fun creations! Get your hands kneading and have fun!

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Productive Playtime = A Wipes Dispenser and Some Squares

Ironically, Micah got some nice, expensive, noisy and colorful toys during Christmas, but he preferred playing with the boxes and the wrapping paper. Can anyone else relate to this?!   If you are looking for a productive playtime activity that will last you through a couple of stages in your child’s development, I’ve got one for you.  With your empty wipes dispenser you can make a toy that is inexpensive, reusable and educational!

Chris had walked away to grab something from the kitchen and when he walked back, he noticed that Micah was unusually quiet (Micah often talks to himself while playing on his mat).  This is what he saw:

tissue box

YES.  Micah emptying out our tissue box and loving it!  Look at his concentration!  Secretly, I have been waiting for this moment because I remember excitedly going to Joanne’s (a fabric store) after Halloween and picking out shimmery, velvety and fluffy fabrics on sale (thanks to the super moms who make costumes for their kids) to put this project together. I already had an empty wipes dispenser and I just needed a variety of cut out cloth squares to put in it to complete our new toy. Voila! Here it is!

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Micah’s activity box!

After the stunt he pulled with emptying out our tissue box, I realized he was finally ready for this activity. He was going to learn a couple of skills through playing and I was excited to finally get to show him what I have put together. Pulling the various cloths will teach him how to improve his fine motor development. Feeling the various textures, his tactile “discrimination” (when a child uses his 5 senses to learn and experience the world around him) will be heightened.  By learning to open and close the lid, his little fingers will develop stronger muscles and also improve his eye-hand coordination. Who knew a child could learn so much with this box? Not only is this entertaining, it is also stimulating and productive.

In the beginning, he had a difficult time pulling the squares out so I helped him by sticking a tiny piece out.  His curiosity and excitement grew as he began to pull out the first square, then the second, then the third…etc.  He was surprised that they were all different.  He felt the different textures and quickly became engaged.  He picked them up, felt them, ate them, stretched some and waved them around.  Interestingly, sometimes, he would even pick up two different squares, one in each hand, and compare them.  He played with the squares for quite some time.  Just when we were getting ready to put the squares away, I popped the lid and he got excited, again!  The activity continued toward opening and closing the lid.  Literally, we were both engaged in this activity for almost half an hour – his attention was on the box and my attention was on him. It was fascinating for me to watch my son so contented with a box- a used wipes dispenser.  I paused and realized how simple life was for him. He didn’t care about the price, he didn’t care that it wasn’t fancy or even the fact that it was used. He was just enjoying the moment. The purity of his contented heart made me smile. I pray that he will always find joy in the little things life has to offer. I pray that he will be contented with what God provides…even if it’s just a box. I can’t wait to go and get more cloths so I can switch them out and surprise him! I hope your child enjoys this activity as much as mine did! 🙂 Have fun and get shopping!

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This is all you need!

What you will need:

Wipes dispenser

A variety of cloths cut into squares

Steps:

1. Use up the wipes and dry out the dispenser.

*Huggies make cute containers and the little “door”/ lid is easy to open. The rubber opening is also allows their little hands to go through without getting hurt.*

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2. Collect fabric pieces and cut them into squares. If you have old towels or T-shirts, you can use those too. If not, head to a fabric store and cut some out. It’s very inexpensive.

*For younger children (6 months-3 years old), find fabrics with different textures, so not only do they feel different but they also look different.  ex: corduroy, velvet, cotton, silk etc. This makes them excited to see what is coming up next!

*for older children: you can find scraps of different patterned fabrics with different colors.

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3. Choose 4-5 cloth squares. Don’t get over excited and put all of your different fabrics in because you don’t want it to get boring. Instead, rotate your fabrics every once in a while. This keeps the box exciting and mysterious.

4. Put them inside the box.

5. Present it to your child. You can help him/her by pulling a little piece out if his/her little hands can’t reach in yet. Teach them how to pull it out. Let the fun begin!

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Having lots of fun!