Each year for Christmas I usually will get each one of my students a book as a gift from me. I spend all year building a foundation in which to build a reader and good student, and always thought as a good teacher I will help promote this by helping build home libraries. At my new school all four of the K4 classes do a book exchange (will post more on this on another post) so felt I would find a "new" tradition. When I came across this a light went on!! Perfect!! Play dough for young children is a Magical toy and SOOO secretly educational! Add to the fact that we spend a day of our December curriculum talking about the meaning of candy cane, this was just a must do gift.
Benefits of a child playing with play dough:
1. Exercises those fine muscles in their fingers making them stronger so those little fingers will have the strength to hold a pencil and write.
2. Anger management. About the only thing a child can crush, beat, smash and work out any and all frustrations they may have without getting into trouble.
3. Hands on learning, Rolling snakes and forming them into letters, number, shapes and figures.
4. Cause and effect skills
5. Communication skills are formed as they talk about what they are doing, new words and concepts are learned when adults talk with them about what they are doing. (NEVER ask your child "what is it?" instead ask "Tell me about what you are making.")
6. Help builds a child's self-esteem. There is no wrong or right way to play with it, and how you play with it is only limited to your own imagination.
7. Which brings to the next benefit, it foster a child's imagination- play dough is the BEST open ended toy!
8. Attention holder. From my experience working with young children, play dough holds children's attention a lot longer then I can safely say 95% of any toy in their room.
This is for those of you who reject the idea of allowing your child to play with play dough due to the mess it caused... these benefits will I promise be well worth it.
Homemade Play dough Recipe:
There are soo many recipes and so many different things you can add for texture, color, and smell. This is my favorite base recipe that I feel is simple, and even better the kids can help make it.
No-Cook Play Dough
4 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 tbsp oil
1 and 1/2 cup water
for candy cane dough you will need red food coloring and peppermint extract
Mix oil and food color together before adding to dry mixture. Mix until pliable. Keep in container or plastic bag.
Add a tiny amount of water to dough that is too dry until reaches the correct consistency.
To make this into candy cane play dough mix in a few drops of peppermint extract, either mix all ingredients together without food coloring then split dough in half and kneed several drops of red food coloring in one half and leave the other half it's natural color. Or make two batches one natural and one mixed with red food coloring. (Be warned that kneading dough by hand with food coloring will dye your/ your child's hands!!)
To make it special kneed in some multi colored glitter!
The balls of dough in this pic were too big, I spilt each in half
I used 8oz mason jars. A box of 12 with lids and labels at Wal-Mart for under $8. Taking about an amount a little larger than a golf ball of both the white and red dough making two long snakes, then twisting together. Then, carefully feed into the jar in a circling pattern. Make sure you have some extra to play with to master your technique to get the right look if making for gifts. 12 mason jars doesn't hold as much dough as I thought, you made for 2 batches is enough. I did 4 and pretty sure I had enough left over to do another 12!!
When done, Use a cute candy cane printed fabric square in the lid. I added to the fun by tying an inexpensive Christmas cookie cutter to each jar with a ribbon.
The Legend of the Candy Cane: