For my son’s first birthday, he got a big package of colourful play dough cans. He loved them and played with them for a long time… stacking them into a tower. However, once the cans were open, he was not sure what to do, and neither was I. I could sculpt a relatively realistic cat or the very hungry caterpillar, but he did not seem to care for my masterpieces.
It turned out that during that first month of exploring play dough, he could not get enough of rolling balls. Well, we rolled balls for him, and he stacked them together, making rather squished snowmen. It was Budster’s first play dough project.
A few months later, he has invented many more play dough games. He likes to find a car and roll it across the play dough surface. He laughs when he takes a Lego man and makes the imprints of his feet. It is fun to offer Budster new tools and objects while he is handling play dough and see what he can come up with. With the thought of keeping some open-ended play dough-friendly materials handy, one afternoon I decided to organize a little play dough corner for Budster.
First, I looked for empty jars. I hoped for more, but I could only find six. Well, six is a good start too! What should go into the jars? Here are some ideas:
– bean mix
– pasta mix
– rice mix
– little stones
– short sticks
– feathers etc.
Anything that would be fun to stick into play dough, decorate play dough cakes with or to make imprints.
Then I made a raid into the basket of kitchen utensils. They were some of Budster favourite toys when he was a baby, but he has not been playing much with them lately. He will likely get back to his kitchen games in the next months, but in the meantime, his kitchen utensils will get a new life in the play dough corner! These can be useful:
– rolling pin
– plastic knife
– potato masher
– garlic press
– cookie cutters etc.
Finally, I rummaged through the toy box, craft and kitchen drawers, looking for bigger objects to make imprints of. Budster’s favourite are seashells, but I was looking for:
– more cookie cutters
– wooden blocks of unusual shapes, etc.
In other words, anything that would not fit in a jar, but still seem interesting!
Last, but not least, I made a big batch of play dough, using this recipe from The Imagination Tree. We still have several cans of store-bought play dough, and we like to play with them, but we equally like home-made play dough. It has a pleasant neutral colour, and once you get comfortable with the basic recipe, you can add some new ingredients for fun. This time we tried adding a tablespoon of lemon zest, and it smelled divine!
Usually we keep the container of play dough with all the jars and utensils on one of our lower shelves, and when Budster wants to play with it, he brings the tub of play dough to us.
That day when I re-organized his play dough shelf, he saw all the exciting jars and wanted to try everything out. We spent a blissful hour, making play dough cupcakes and play dough monsters.
Googly eyes were quite a hit!
There was also a couple of purple eyes I had from when we were making stuffed toys for Budster, and he loved them even more.
He also practised cutting with a plastic knife.
…And making lines with a roller.
Budster is very keen on making associations now. He made an imprint of a round button in play dough and, very satisfied with his creation, exclaimed, “Moon!”
When offering toddlers play dough, give them an access to a variety of open-ended materials. They will come up with very unique ways to use them, and all of you will have a great laugh.
Many of the materials mentioned in the articles are small and therefore a potential choking hazard. Please, use your best judgement to decide whether your child is ready to play with them, and always stay next to your toddler when he is handling small objects.
Would you like some more play dough ideas? Check the board below! If you want to stay updated on other stories from Adventure in a Box, consider subscribing to our Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram pages. Thank you for reading!