It’s Saturday afternoon and your partner is out lunching with friends. You’ve got plenty of time on your hands and kids to entertain. You could plonk them in front of a Shute Shield match that you’re enjoying from the couch, or you could open ATYD’s step by step guide on how to make playdough and try your hands at this quick, natural and ever so easy recipe (while sneaking an occasional glance at the TV), that can even involve the little ones.
Traditional, store-bought playdough or modelling clay isn’t necessarily harmful but it is artificial, combining ingredients like binding agents, lubricants, preservatives, hardeners and humectants. If you wouldn’t consider eating it, there’s no reason you should let your kid take that inevitable bite.
Homemade natural Playdough is safe to consume and uses a handful of basic supermarket ingredients letting the kids get hands-on, discovering textures, colours and scents along the way.
You can start with this simple Playdough recipe below, then we’ll share some ideas on customising your dough and engaging the kids.
How To Make Playdough
– ½ cup salt
– 1 cup plain flour
– 2 tablespoons cream of tartar (creates the smooth, stretchy consistency)
– 1 cup of hot water
– 1 ½ tablespoons oil (Olive, Vegetable or Canola is fine)
– Colouring (see below)
– Aroma (see below)
- Combine plain flour, salt and cream of tartar in a saucepan.
- Next, add the hot water and oil.
- Heat the mixture slowly, whisking or stirring until it forms a dough like consistency then set aside to cool.
Once the dough is cool enough to handle you can get the kids involved. Divide equal amounts of the dough as you would like colours and put each piece into its own bowl. To colour, you can reach for your run of the mill food colouring or continue the natural angle by using foods with natural colour. Ground Tumeric and Coffee work a treat, as does Beetroot and Carrot Juice. If your child is of age, let them combine the ingredients and watch the dough change while their minds expand!
You can finish the process here, or take it a step further by integrating scent via essential oils. There’s no right or wrong time to introduce kids to essential oils, however, it’s a good idea to test their reactions to different oils prior to adding them to the playdough and ensure you’re only using 100% or pure essential oil. You can test your kid’s reaction by applying 1 drop of essential oil mixed with 4 drops of carrier oil (a vegetable derived oil such as Avocado, Olive or Sesame) to the inner side of his or her arm. Watch for allergic reactions like itchiness, problems breathing, tenderness or swelling of the skin, digestive problems, and skin reactions such as boil or rashes before giving the oil the all clear.
Essential oils provide calming, relaxation and sleep-inducing effects, perfect for anxious, hyperactive and even sick children. Here’s a list of common oils and their effects.
Cedarwood: Benefits of Cedarwood oil include reduced tension, stress, and anxiety. This oil can also help kids with sleeping problems.
Frankincense: Frankincense has been found to induce feelings of peace and relaxation. It has a calming effect that can help calm kids’ anger and anxiety.
Lavender: Lavender has a calming effect and has also been proven to induce relaxation and sleep as well as aids healing of minor burns and scrapes.
Lemon: Offers seasonal respiratory support and normalizes body temperature.
Mandarin orange: Mandarin orange oil calms stress and anxiety and has also been found to be effective in reducing hysteria.
Peppermint: Normalizes body temperature, gas and nausea.
Vetiver: Helps calm kids’ anxiety, anger, and hyperactivity.
Ylang Ylang: Ylang Ylang acts as an antidepressant. It has been associated with reduced stress and anxiety and with improved moods.
If you’ve made a variety of colours, you can now associate them with scents. Add Lavender to the Beetroot coloured dough, Mandarin to the Carrot coloured and so on, or just have some fun with your combinations.
Now that you’re ready to play, here’s a handful of ideas to inspire your toddler:
1. Roll the playdough into balls and shapes and get them having fun manipulating the dough.
2. Wrap objects in the playdough and have your child open them.
3. Use cookie cutters, stamps or shapes in the dough.
4. Mix colours and introduce textures such as sand, hundreds and thousands or glitter.
5. Introduce objects to press into the playdough. Shells, sticks and other natural objects work well.
Now you should be pretty confident in the how to make Playdough department! Unleash your inner child, experiment with colours and ingredients and enjoy the sense of achievement you’ll get from creating a safe, natural and calming activity for your children.
If you’re keen to know more about Essential Oils for you or your kids, independent Essential Oil chemist and expert Dr Robert S Pappas is worth following on Facebook. If you’re looking for quality oils, DoTERRA comes highly recommended.