Playdough Earth

playdoh earth
This post from contributing writer Katy is great  for toddlers and preschoolers of any ability but especially geared towards children who are resistant to textures, either because of having special needs or simply being resistant to new sensations. Having a purpose to make something like the earth makes an exercise in textures more authentic instead of simply touching something squishy. I love it!
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Before I do any craft with Charlie, I get all of my supplies ready to go. For this project I rolled three large balls of blue craft clay and then several small balls of green craft clay.Play-doh Earths
I placed a ball of blue clay in Charlie hands and then took a piece of green and helped him smash it into the blue. play-doh earth
We did this several times for each ball creating something that looks a lot like Earth.play doh earth
Charlie, like many kids with special needs, can be resistant to new textures.  He did not like the feel of the clay, but we kept at it for a as long as we could. I had wanted to create a total of four Earths, but we stopped at three in order to prevent a meltdown.  It’s good to push your child, but not so far that they become resistant to all new activities.
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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

Valentine’s Day Playdough Cupcakes

valentine's day playdough activityWe love cupcakes, but who wants 24 cupcakes when only 2 people in your house will be eating them( which means 22 for me and 2 for my son … not good). So instead of baking them we decided to play with them. This pretend play incorporates sensory, learning shapes, and color mixing too. Not to mention it was really fun!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some red and white playdough, some fun cupcake liners, cake picks ( is that what they are called?), a cutting board and heart cookie cutters.  You can also add sprinkles, fancy plates and muffin tins!Valentine's Cupcakes
  2. Start by mixing some of the red and while to make pink playdough. Normally I make my own playdough but I wanted this color mixing lesson as part of the play, so I bought white and red dough, it’s hard to make true white playdough at home. If you want to make your own here are my favorite recipes.Valentine's Cupcakes
  3. Let em at it! My son kneaded the dough ” I squish it until it’s yummy!”Valentine's Cupcakes
  4. We rolled it into balls and popped it in a liner.Valentine's Cupcake
  5. Made hearts for the top – I did one to show him all the options while  and he ran with it.Valentine's cupcakes
  6. Don’t forget a pick!Valentine's Cupcakes
  7. Keep playing- this cupcake cost me $38 dollars! Good thing the playdough , liners and pics together only cost $3.99!Valentine Bakery
  8. There is no right or wrong way to play – just explore, have fun and remember to keep playdough far away from carpet, it’s such a pain to get out. Valentine Bakery 007

Book

Mr. Cookie Baker was an instant hit at our house. The book is about who else, Mr. Cookie Baker and it shows the reader how he makes cookies from scratch, ices them and sells them. It’s a great book to explain baking and bakeries. My son loves the part where Mr. Cookie Baker eats a cookie after a long hard day and then says goodnight. I like the illustrations, they are bold and detailed without being cluttered and can almost tell the story all by themselves. Be warned though reading this will almost definitely make you crave a cookie or two.

Pumpkin Pie Playdough Recipe

I love play dough but until last year hated making it. I had a play dough cook off and this was my favorite recipe that was submitted by Jana from This and That I added pumpkin pie spice to it and it was perfect!  It was a nice calm activity for my little man on a very rainy day!


2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
3 Tbs. oil
1 Tbs. alum
2 cups boiling water
food coloring

Here is how I had my little man help me make it today!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need the ingredients – separated into individual bowls, pumpkin pie spice, food color is you want, a cutting board, and fall cookie cutters for playing after!Pumpkin playdough 002
  2. Start by pouring your flour into a large bowl, I don’t suggest having it at kid level until you are ready to mix… my camera batteries died and in the 2 minutes it took to get new ones there was a nice dusting of flour all over.
  3. Pour in the salt.Pumpkin playdough
  4. The alumPumpkin playdough
  5. The oilPumpkin playdough 006
  6. The pumpkin pie spice – my son added so much but it turned out great. Pumpkin playdough
  7. Pour the boiling water in ( adults only please- the water needs to be boiling not just hot) Pumpkin play dough
  8. Mix.
  9. Pop onto the cutting board and knead, add food color if you want. Pumpkin play dough
  10. Let cool a few minutes.
  11. Play! The addition of seasonal cookie cutters make all the difference for us. Plain old playdough becomes extra fun with these $1 cookie cutters!  You can store it in the fridge for months in a sealed ziplock.Pumpkin playdough 009


Toddler Halloween Books

Clifford" First Halloween

Clifford’s First Halloween (Clifford the Small Red Puppy) by Norman Birdwell is a Halloween book that my son adores, I read it 4 times this afternoon alone. In all honesty I am sick of it but the person that matters still wants more. The story is about the big red dog’s very first Halloween as a puppy. Clifford and Emily Elizabeth find costumes, they trick or treat and try candy apples too. I think what my son relates to is that at almost 3 he doesn’t remember too much of Halloween , even though he knows what it is this year will be the first time he gets to do so many things. Like little Clifford, he is often too little for things, makes messes and has bigger people step in and fix it for him. He doesn’t know it yet but one day he will be more like the big Clifford than he knows.  This book doesn’t jump at me as a must read but I can’t ignore my son’s love when writing this review!Peek-a-Boooo!

Peek-a-Boooo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti is a perfect toddler Halloween book. The premise is simple, each page has a well known Halloween character including a witch, skeleton, Frankenstein all hiding behind their hands playing peek-a-boo with the readers. The characters hands are flaps and when you lift them they reveal the character’s face – which is always sweet and happy , never scary.  At the end of the book there are more flaps to lift to reveal trick or treaters and the same Halloween characters hiding in their haunted house. My son loves this book too and  I think it’s a great completely gentle way to read about Halloween with toddlers.

 

where_is_babys_pumpkinWhere Is Baby’s Pumpkin? by Karen Katz. This lift and flap book is the newest addition to our Karen Katz collection. My son adores these books. I read this in the check out line 3 times and he was asking for more before I could get my groceries in the fridge. I like this book because it’s a cute and gentle introduction to Halloween and all the creatures that go along with it. Also there are fun textures to many of the illustrations which help keep little hands busy! I love the sparkly ghost and the shiny bats are my son’s favorites!

3 Easy Fine Motor Activities


All children develop on their own schedule, while one may be excellent at climbing stairs at 2, another can’t but can identify all the letters in the alphabet. Our job is to provide rich , experience filled days not to drill them with facts and skills they aren’t ready for. Here are 3 fun ways to work on fine motor skills that allow for exploration as well as fine tuning.

Play Dough Treasure Hunt

Young children love finding things, I don’t know about you but I hear “Look Mama, looooook!” many many times a day, sometimes when I take the little hand pulling me I am surprised with a tower of blocks, sometimes his favorite garbage truck that he’s shown me with the same enthusiasm five times already that day. Activities like this tap into that and throws in an extra challenge. Dig around, count what you’ve found or discover that if you press hard on a button with holes that “Wiggly worms” appear. * Thanks to Teri for reminding me of this activity in a comment a few months ago!


Playdough Cutting

Using scissors is tricky. To help ease your child into learning I like to use play-dough, and very dull plastic safety scissors. These scissors will cut paper but not without just the right amount of pressure. However they cut play dough perfectly every time. This way your little person can focus on the grip and co-ordination of opening and closing , not fiddling with the paper, or angles they are cutting at. Also if they are getting frustrated, if they aren’t ready, simply remove the scissors and start creating something with the play-dough.

Marshmallow Building

This is a fine motor activity for older kids, it takes a lot of coordination and a good heaping of patience to build even simple structures out of marshmallows and toothpicks. After a day the marshmallows will harden and the sculpture will be sturdier. My son decided a snack was more fun , but at least he used the toothpicks.


Need a playdough recipe ?
Check out what happened when I tested out readers recipes!

Toddler Playdough Sculptures

play dough ideas for kids
On Tuesday I was watching ( well mostly listening to) the Presidential Inauguration and that meant my little man was house bound , so I needed a lot of fun things up my sleeve. We made crafts, we played with water , built a city with blocks and our piece de resistance these super cool playdough sculptures!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some play-dough and something fun to stick in it. We used popsicle sticks and toilet paper rolls.
  2. Start creating.
  3. My son made the same thing over and over, birthday cakes! We sung happy birthday to many things including the new president, it was a fun day.
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