Color Mixing with Play Clay – Hand Strength Activity

color mixing free choice activity Who doesn’t love concocting new things? My kids can’t be the only ones making potions with hand soap, mouthwash and shampoo behind locked bathroom doors!  I like to use that enthusiasm for a less wasteful activity like color mixing with play clay. You can lay it out and let them go for it, or make it a more structured activity and have specific pairs to be smushed together.  Kneading the dough is great for building hand strength and mixing two colors together takes a few minutes of good kneading. You can do this with playdough, plasticine, or use the Melissa & Doug modeling compound like we did. What I like about this compound that was sent to me to try out is that it’s super soft and feels great on little fingers.

Gather your materials. You will need a tray with lots of little compartments for different colors. I used an ice tray. You will also want something to protect your table like a tray and, of course, your play clay.

color mixing lesson

Start by putting just a teeny bit of a whole bunch of colors into the compartments. Call your color scientist to come make you some new colors!color mixing with play dough

She was into it from the get-go. Look at those little hands working hard building new muscles. color mixing with play doughHand strength is important for handwriting and other tasks like tying shoes, buttoning shirts and pants, and using utensils. So giving your children opportunities to work on it without making them feel like they are working on it is important.

color mixing vlogging

See that little mirror? That’s her pretend camera, she narrated the whole activity because as she told me ” She was vlogging!” can you tell she has grown up with a blogger for a mom?

colors mixed

After she mixed each pair she decided to mix all these colors together. Before she did I asked her to make a prediction about what color it would be. Then she was off to mixing the colors. Her prediction was gray and she was right!color mixing play clay

Books About Color Mixing

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white-rabbits-color-book-alan-baker

White Rabbit’s Color Book by Alan Baker is a classic in my mind and if you have never read it you must. It’s not a complicated story, instead it’s a brilliant book and lesson about color mixing. The cover illustration of the bunny in the paint always makes me think of dyeing Easter eggs which are another great opportunity to teach about color mixing. Kids love this book and adults reading it will enjoy the fun and dynamic language used to describe the vibrant colors that the bunny plunges into.

little-blue-and-little-yellow

Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni is a profound book with underlying commentary about race relations while the surface story is about little blobs of color who when squished together turn into one green blob! You’ll be surprised by how easily your preschooler will pick up on the connection between the two. In my PreK class, I had more than a few kids make the connection all on their own.

mouse paint

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh is a cute little story about mice that get into the paint and not only make a mess but discover what happens when you mix colors. Great for every day but even better when you are learning about colors specifically mixing colors.

Play Dough with Popsicle Stick Flowers

easy popsicle stick flowers I made these flowers for a fun addition to our play dough area at preschool. My four-year-old saw them sitting out before we went to school and had to play. Still in her PJs ( but that’s normal around here right?) she tested this activity out before I took it into my class. The way she played interested me because she turned each color for flower into a family and matched them all up, giving some names and even creating stories about them. I love seeing how sensory play boosts language and literacy!

play dough activity for kids

Gather your materials. My friends at craftprojectideas.com sent me these mini popsicle sticks and foam flower stickers you can use theirs like I did or make your own with adhesive foam sheets. You will also need some play dough.

 

You need two matching stickers for each flower. Peel the backing off one.easy diy toys for play dough

Press the stick into it.flowers for play dough

Peel the backing off the matching sticker and sandwich the two together.

Told you it was easy.

play dough play for kids

PLAY

matching up flowers

I love her little stories. flower playdough activityThe yellow family was off to the Nutcracker with an auntie  grandma, and a good buddy. By encouraging these stories, you are encouraging storytelling which is an important building block for strong literacy later on.

Play dough activity for spring

Books About Flowers

Click over to our books about flowers book list. Click here or the image.

books about flowers for kids

 

Easter Egg Play Dough Tray Activity

easter play dough Finding that fine line between setting something up that is exciting and interesting for your child ( or students ) and letting go of how they decide to use it can be hard. You envision this awesome idea but when you let go of it and they dive in they don’t always use it the way you intended. Maybe they spend a fraction of the amount of time you expect them to on it, maybe they turn it into a completely new idea, or maybe they ignore it completely. Don’t sweat it. Let them create their own experience and let go of your expectations. Observe and see what they are learning from how they have decided to play with the materials you have put on the tray. I imagined wonderfully patterned Easter eggs like ones she’d been drawing for days before I created this Easter egg play dough for her. Instead what she learned was that if you dip and roll the play dough in the collage materials , they stick. I think her lesson was a lot more exciting.

Gather your materials. I put out a egg mold, some play dough, gems, buttons, and beads.easter play dough

Start by making your eggs. I showed her how to make one then rolled it back into a ball so she could make it herself.  easter sensory

After that she added a few things. Not very enthusiastically.  easter egg sesory

She made a few more.easter egg fine motor

Then her face lit up as she dumped the decorations out and rolled her purple egg in it. easter egg discoveryNow it’s fun! She then took out the pieces she didn’t want, leaving only a few pink ones.

easter egg free choice activity

The white egg was next. When she didn’t do it at all I asked her why ” I am leaving it for you.” So I made it the way I wanted to now that it was my turn and she praised me after noticing my patterns . She still got the lesson about patterns I was angling for and one about me trusting her choices. When we follow their leads not only do they have more fun but they learn we trust their choices and value their ideas. There will be times when we chose to push ahead with our plan for the activity but when you don’t have to be inflexible I encourage you to throw the plan and sit back and watch.

Chocolate Gluten Free Play Dough

gluten free chocolate play dough recipe

Cooking together is one of my daughter’s absolute favorite activities and the only thing that makes it better is to cook play dough we can play with after! This chocolate gluten free play dough recipe was a bit of an experiment because our tried and true Bisquick play dough recipe needs a microwave and we don’t have one. So we changed it a little and the end result was a yummy smelling , soft , and gluten free.  While we don’t have any issues with wheat or gluten many kids do so we wanted to create a fun and easy recipe for everyone.  After making the dough play with it – have some fun chocolate themed tools and materials ready to play.

gluten free playdough recipe

Gather your materials. You will need Gluten Free Bisquick, cooking oil, salt, unsweetened cocoa powder, and water. You will also need a cooking pot, spoon, and all your accessories for playing like some mini cupcake liners, sprinkles, a mini rolling pin, cookie cutters, and empty chocolate boxes.

Recipe :

1 1/2 cups of Gluten Free Bisquick
1/2 cup of salt
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of oil

gluten free playdough recipe for kids

Start by reading the recipe and measuring out the ingredients with your child. I can’t do this AND take her photo so we measured them out together and then she patiently waited for me to scurry around the island and grab my camera.

homemade gluten free playdough

Add the Bisquick, salt, and water together in the pot and let your child mix it until it’s thick. Add in the oil and cocoa powder.stiring play dough gluten free play dough

Pop it in the stove on medium low and mix. It’s ready to come off the stove when it forms into a ball.chocolate gluten free playdough

Time to knead it. We added a little more Bisquick and oil as we kneaded it. It smelled SO good!kneading play dough choclate factory

Then it was time time to play. chocolate gluten free play dough candy factoryShe made me some cookies, chocolates for Valentine’s Day, and more with the play dough SHE made. chocolate gluten free playdough recipe

Winter Play Dough Creation Station

winter play dough for preschool Play dough is my daughter’s favorite activity. It’s such a wonderful material whether you make your own your buy Play-Doh at the store like we did for this winter play dough creation station. I am not a pre-planner. It looks like I am because you see all the activities after I put them into neat tutorials but I plan as I go and it’s rare I remember to make the play dough, so I buy it. I also LOVE the smell of Play-doh. LOVE. That said if I need a lot of one color I will make it like I did for our Snowman Play Dough gifts. My daughter was so into this simple activity. I set it up for her while her lunch was cooking and by the time she was done I had to re-heat her lunch because nothing was tearing her away from this winter play dough ! I also want to encourage you to sit with your child at least for part of their play because play dough can be a great prompt for storytelling and my daughter proved that point by walking me through a whole story about her snowmen. You can read it below!

Gather your materials. You will need some white and blue play dough, embellishments like buttons, jewels, baker’s twine, yarn, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes. You will also need some cookie cutters. When I do this with a class I have 4-6 cutters but for one kid I offer 2. Too many can be overwhelming. winter play dough creation station

Dive in and play! With younger kids you might have to help them make the shapes, as you can see my daughter is a pro. snowman play dough for preschool winter play dough

She was so into this! winter play dough for preschool

Next up, snowflakes! snowflake play dough winterThese may or may not have been inspired by a certain animated movie…  I love all the fine motor work in this winter play dough! Kneading the dough, picking up the teeny tiny beads, working with the little pipe cleaners and baker’s twine… it’s all a great exercise for fine motor skills which will help them with other skills like cutting and writing. winter play dough for preschool fine motor pincer grasp

I get so excited about the discoveries that are made because of challenges. She was getting frustrated that the foil pipe cleaners weren’t sticking and instead of just throwing up her hands or omitting them, she tried and tried finally discovering that if he stick the pointy end into the play dough it would stay put where she wanted it. Way cool. best play dough activities

She wasn’t done still – one more snowman! My daughter wanted to be very clear that the snowman is not a cyclops, she is just wearing a cyclops hat. winter play dough for kids

Now time to talk about her creations. The snowmen are a family with a mom named Merritt who is a “cooker” , a dad named Judy who is a toy maker elf snowman, and a baby named England ” She’s a girl!” . winter play dough and storytelling

Books About Snow

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The lonesome  polar bear

The Lonesome Polar Bear by Jane Cabrera is a lovely book about a little polar bear who’s only friends are a snow cloud and snow animals and they all keep melting away. The book has an important  message about not giving up hope and to keep trying to make friends , a lesson that is worthwhile for everyone. The illustrations are very cute and my son (who was a toddler when we read it )loved it!

the snowy day

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a classic. Some classics are the type of books that lose their relevance and leave readers wondering what the hype is about. This book is timeless. A little boy goes exploring in the snow and discovers his world in a new way. The illustrations are magical and the way that  they convey the emotions this little boy experiences throughout the day are nothing short of perfect.

jack frost snow

Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara is another fantastic book that will have you aching for snow. A little boy is lonely after his friends have all gone into hibernation for the winter when Jack Frost shows up. They frolic and play exploring all the fun that winter has to offer friends but when the first signs of spring arrive Jack is gone. The illustrations are perfectly simple and will suck you into a wintery world that you won’t want to leave. My kids love this book and after one reading at the library we bought our own copy.