Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Play Dough

Whether your child is in public, private or home school it's always fun to have home projects during the winter months. This play dough recipe has been around for a long time, but just in case you've never seen it before--here it is again.
You will need:

1 C flour
1 C water
1/2 C salt
2 T cream of tartar
2 T oil
food coloring
Yes, that is a LOT of salt. I have fond memories of making this dough with my mom often as a child. I have not so fond memories of tasting it after my mom told me NOT to. Pretty gross. I also remember molding it to look like a scoop of ice cream, placing it on a real cone and trying to get several of my aunts and uncles to try it. None of them fell for it. But dear Uncle Mikey pretended to to my great delight. I did not tell my children that story.
First, add all ingredients to a pot over medium heat.
Then cook and stir until stiff.

With our first batch I wanted two different colors, so I didn't add the food coloring until after we cooked the dough and broke it in half.
It was hard to work the food coloring into the dough and easy to stain hands and counter tops with this method. For the next batch, I simply halved the recipe and added the food coloring before I cooked the dough. That worked much better. We made two batches total and got 4 colors. This was more than enough for three kids to play with.
If you are working with a preschool child on his/her letters play dough works for "c" (clay, cooking), "d" (dough) or "p" (play dough). It can be used across several subjects--art, cooking, letter learning, coordination and spelling.
When I taught first grade we called spelling "working with words". Each week we introduced 5 new words to put on our word wall. These were high frequency words that needed to be memorized. Many of them don't work as "sound outs"--for instance "the". Each week a new word family was also introduced. A word family is a common ending that can be used for multiple words, like "at". Any word ending in "at" (cat, hat, fat, sat) would then be fair game on the weekly spelling test. The word families teach the kids to follow a pattern when learning to read and write.
Spelling can be an exceedingly frustrating subject for primary students. So can reading. To make working with words more fun we tried to involve more than the students' brains. I taught words first thing in the morning. To get everyone up on their feet and awake we started with some kinesthetic learning--we clapped, snapped, stomped and jumping jacked our words. This is a great way to help your child work on their spelling words at home. Simply say the word "cat" then say the letters with one clap per letter C (clap) A (clap) P (clap). Then say the word again. The word "cat" gets worked into the kinesthetic learner's whole body. During a spelling test, or while they are writing a story and want to remember how to spell a word they can close their eyes and quietly clap out the word to remember it.
Some other great ways to practice spelling are to spray shaving cream on a desk or a cookie sheet and have your child trace their words into the shaving cream. As a bonus, shaving cream works wonders on cleaning pencil off a desk. I usually did this project the day of open house when we wanted everything neat and clean for the parents to come visit : )
Clay, or play dough is another favorite for primary students to work with. They love the cooking process and they are especially excited to play with the dough. Ask them to practice forming letters or words before letting them have some free time to play to their hearts' content. Store dough in Tupperware or Ziploc bags.
I don't know that making your own dough saves you much money. It's more about the process. Making the dough together is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. It's also a great time to teach safety around the stove, how to use measuring cups, taking turns, etc. And it motivates a reluctant learner to practice. Have fun!


NaomiG said...

That looks fun! How 'bout I bring my kids over and they can play with playdoh at your house? Haha, I'm under the impression that there are great playdoh mothers, and not great playdoh mothers. I would be a bad one. For some reason it makes me crazy. I do like the idea of the homemade process though.

gourmetgirl said...

Looks like fun! C. was making us some dessert last night and saw cream of tartar in the spice cabinet and wondered what it was for. Now I can tell him it is for play dough! ;)