Tips For Making Great Play Recipes With Kids

play recipes

Asia Citro has no issue with getting messy. The former science teacher turned blogger turned book author has devoted many many hours to finding just the right combinations of ingredients for amazing sensory play.  I appreciate this because much like baking I am great at playing with these recipes and even creating activities to do with them once they are done but I am no good at creating the recipes. Recipes like these are precise , not really my strong suit. It is Asia’s. I received this book free for review and you should probably know the author and I are friends. I hope it’s clear to all my readers I wouldn’t promote something unless it was rad even if my friend wrote it.

banana playdough

In her new book 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids (affiliate link) she not only shares amazing screen free ideas she shares some exclusive play recipes, not even found on her blog Fun at Home With Kids. I decided to share some of my favorite recipes from her blog and then I let my daughter choose one of the exclusive ones from the book and share some one my favorite tips when you are making play recipes with your kids.

Before we get to the tips let me share my favorite play recipes you can find on Asia’s site Fun At Home With Kids:

edible paint

1. Scented Edible Paint
2. Rainbow Soap Foam Bubbles
3. Borax Free Slime
4. Polka Dot Slime
5. Foaming Dough Recipe : Magic Foaming Snowman

 

What I love about involving your kids in creating the play recipes is that it’s cooking and play all together. A lot of parents express how nervous they are about cooking with their kids or that they don’t have the patience for it. Well try this first. You aren’t a bad parent if you know that cooking dinner with your child will make you nuts. Maybe a play recipe like this will be the perfect compromise!

Browse for some recipes and let your child choose, she chose banana playdough. Letting your child choose the recipe they are going to make isn’t just a fun way to get them excited it’s a great way to model how you browse and read cookbooks. Flip through, read the ingredient lists together, and make shopping lists if need be. In this step along you are modeling real world reading and writing.

banana cooking

Measure out all the ingredients together making note of the numbers on the measuring cups. Cooking can be a wonderful intro to fractions in the real world for kids.banana mash

She loved mashing the bananas. Mashing bananas, avocados, cooked potatoes… and other mashable foods are always a good choice because kids can do this without you stepping in every two seconds. This builds their confidence.

banana cooking with kids

If a big bowl equals a big mess at your house give you child a little bit of the dough ( or whatever you are cooking) in their own smaller bowl and don’t worry if they spill it.

banana playdough

Time to play with it! Even if you are making real food play can absolutely follow. You can play restaurant with the completed meal, invite Barbie for a tea party, or my daughter’s favorite  play” TV Chef” Did I mention she would stop nursing if Giadia was on the TV as an infant? This girl has cooking in her DNA!

If you want the full recipe for the banana playdough  ( and so many others) grab a copy of 150+ Screen Free Activities For Kids by Asia Citro I can’t praise this new book enough. I think of it as my cookbook for sensory play. You can buy it on Amazon  —>  150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids: The Very Best and Easiest Playtime Activities from FunAtHomeWithKids.com! ( affiliate link) and check out the author’s blog here.

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

All our book lists include affiliate links.

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.

Magnetic Sensory Bottles – Christmas Activities For Preschool

how to make sensory bottles My daughter helped me make these magnetic sensory bottles for my 2 & 3 year old preschool class. I took them in today and the kids had fun exploring with them. I sat with small groups and demonstrated then we  investigated the bottles letting them each make the magnets move and grove. The coolest discover was that we could make the bells jingle without shaking the bottle, just by moving the magnetic wand. That made my day, little discoveries like these are huge for young kids and tells me their little minds are engaged.

Here is how we made them.

Gather your materials. You will need some empty water bottles with lids, filler like pom poms, beads, colored beans, foil wrapping paper cut into small squares etc… You will also need some filler that is magnetic like pipe cleaners, jingle bells, and magnetic disks, hot glue gun, washi tape, and a magnetic wand. how to make sensory bottles

Start by filling your bottles with the regular filler. I had some help! holiday sensory bottles for preschool

If you are using pipe cleaners in your bottles cut them into small pieces. A tip for doing this without bits flying everywhere- bend the pipe cleaners around the scissors and hold both ends. sensory bottles for preschool with magnets

Add the magnetic filler. magnetic sensory bottles for toddlers

Glue the tops on. I add just a little hot glue on the inside of the caps then screw them on. Then I add a little more on the outside. christmas sensory bottles with magnets

Wrap a few layers of tape on top to make it pretty and add a little extra protection from the bottles being opened. Please remember that even with the glue kids can find ways into things we never expect them to get into. These like all our activities require close adult supervision. christmas sensory play

Time to test them out. christmas science for kidsShe loved making the pipe cleaners dance through the foil wrap but her big discovery was that she could lift one of the bottles up with just the magnetic wand!magnetic sensory bottles for christmas

 

75+ Things To Add To Playdough To Make It More Fun

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75 playdough add onsOther than reading the one activity that we do daily here at our house is playdough. We have a playdough bucket in our playroom and a drawer in the kitchen filled with playdough and all sorts of fun add ons. Here are our favorite things to add to playdough. You don’t need fancy activities you just need to put out playdough and a few fun add-ons and let creativity blossom.

rainbow playdough color sort and match

  • buttons
  • googly eyes
  • glow in the dark stars
  • sequins
  • plastic gems

playdough-with-soldiers-

  • plastic soldiers
  • wooden beads
  • toy dinosaurs
  • aluminum foil
  • Lincoln Logs
  • glass decorator beads
  • plastic beads

playdough bug fossils

  • toy bugs
  • stones
  • ice cream cones
  • dry pasta
  • Mini Figures

playdough letters 3

  • toothpicks
  • popscicle sticks
  • straws
  • glow sticks
  • feathers

fine motor skills

  • beans
  • toilet paper rolls
  • pipe cleaners
  • recycled plastic lids
  • alphabet magnets
  • puzzle pieces
  • marbles
  • wooden blocks
  • pom poms

theme playdough

  • toy construction vehicles
  • nuts and bolts
  • real nuts in the shell ( please make certain all children are free of allergies)
  • fake flowers
  • golf tees
  • keys
  • Little People Dolls
  • corks
  • Lego or Duplo
  • birthday candles

 snow playdough

making letters with shells and playdough

Tools

pretend play playdough

  • rolling pin
  • ice tray
  • candy molds
  • stamps

playdough activity for kids

  • cookie cutters
  • plastic knives
  • spatula
  • toy tools
  • ice cream scoop
  • potato mashers

playdough playmats silly hair

  • garlic press
  • cake pans
  • muffin tins
  • garden tools ( kid plastic ones)
  • forks
  • combs
  • melon baler

playdough activities for kids by no time for flash cards 4

  • tongs
  • pie plate
  • pastry edger
  • mixing bowls

playdough egg mold

  • egg molds
  • dull( kid) pizza wheel
  • measuring cups
  • cookie sheet
  • scissors

 

What do you add to playdough to make it more fun?

 

 

 

Homemade Bubble Solution and Whisk Bubble Wands

homemade bubble solutionThis was a completely kid directed activity. While I was finishing up a conference call my daughter was digging through the kitchen drawers and found her whisks. These were bought for her to play with and as I hung up she showed me that she had opened them up to make flowers. Immediately I said to her ” do you know what I think we could use those for?”

“Bubbles!” was her response and I was giddy to see that we were on the same page. I dug through my pantry to see if we had any corn syrup to make the bubble solution I used to make in day camps 400 years ago. It was hiding behind the cookies that I had hidden behind the pasta.

Here is my NOT AT ALL precise recipe for homemade bubble solution.

homemade bubble solution using stuff you have in your kitchen

1 tablespoon of corn syrup
1/4 cup of dish soap
fill the rest of the measuring up ( 2 cups) with warm water and stir.

homemade bubble potion

I made the first batch myself but she helped with the second.

whisk bubbles

She LOVED this. The bubbles weren’t great to blow out of the whisks but if you dipped them in and then waved your arms and they made huge big bubbles.bubbles collage

She practiced and sometimes they were little , but sometimes they were huge. What I adored about this incredibly simple activity is that she was attacking it like an experiment ( with zero input from me to suggest she should) and tried to recreate the big bubbles by following what worked and avoiding the actions that resulted in the little bubbles. big bubbles