Play dough with kids can be a sensory experience. Or, it can be a VERY sensory experience.
This Marshmallow Fondant dough is one of those VERY sensory dough play experiences. If you’re looking for a way to incorporate proprioception into play for its’ calming, relaxing, and heavy work to stimulate joint receptors and awareness of self, then this sensory dough is for you. It’s perfect for proprioceptive input to the feet and whole body (with play dough! Really!), the small joints of the hands (Use it as a handwriting warm-up exercise.), and upper body heavy work.
Who could have thought that a simple play dough could provide a whole-body heavy work workout?
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Marshmallow Sensory Dough Recipe
This recipe is one that I’ve used for fondant decorations on cakes. It requires heavy muscle work and is a great way to provide proprioceptive input to the whole body. It’s a recipe that I’ve used many times in baking and thought, “Phew! My arms are tired! This is a workout!” Why not use that muscle power with kids that crave proprioception?
HINT: Using smaller pieces of the dough is perfect for muscle work with kids.
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup water
- In a large pot, melt the butter and marshmallows, mixing constantly.
- Stir in the water while stirring.
- Pour the melted marshmallow mixture into a mixer.
- Add confectioners sugar by the cup, mixing for 4-5 minutes until smooth and fluffy.
- Dump the dough onto a counter or cutting board that has been dusted with confectioners sugar. The dough will be very tough and sticky. You will need to knead the dough to get a smoother texture.
Kneading dough is an excellent way to incorporate proprioception to the upper body. Encourage your child to pound and pull the dough. However, we decided to take the proprioceptive input up a notch…
Proprioceptive input with sensory play dough
A while back we made a Cooking With Kids recipe for udon noodles. In this traditional Japanese dish, noodles are kneaded with the feet. Our marshmallow fondant sensory dough was SO tough, that we thought getting our feet in on the kneading action was a GREAT idea.
Kneading with Feet: Proprioceptive input to the lower body
Sometimes, you see a child who is kicking constantly in their seat, moving those little legs, bumping into others, fidgeting at school or home, and just needing more awareness of their body in order to calm and focus on a task. A proprioceptive task can help with this.
How to make heavy resistance dough
- To use the marshmallow dough in a proprioception activity, place it and a little confectioners sugar into a gallon sized plastic freezer bags.
- Saturate a kitchen dishtowel with hot water.
- Squeeze the excess water from the dishtowel.
- Fold the towel around the plastic bag.
- Layer another (dry) dishtowel over the wet towel.
- Place the towel/dough package on the kitchen floor.
- Now, use those feet to stomp, jump, and knead the dough!
Kneading with your feet gives the dough much more pressure and stretch. You can use the heels of your feet to really press into the dough.
Kneading our fondant dough was very cool and sensory. The warm towel could be felt through the dry towel, and squishing the dough provided an unsteady surface. This proprioceptive activity was not just therapeutic. It was FUN!
Marshmallow Sensory Dough
After kneading the dough for about 10 minutes (and with a lot of dancing, and jumping on the dough!) we pulled out our sensory dough and started playing. It was amazing to see the difference in texture and pliability before kneading and after kneading the fondant with our feet.
Place the dough on a cutting board surface that has been lightly dusted with confectioners sugar. Show your child how to pull of lumps of dough and roll them into balls.
Use a rolling pin to roll out thin layers for an upper extremity strengthening and proprioception work out.
While the dough was easier to manage, it still packed a tough and resistive punch! We found that working with small amounts of dough at a time made rolling for my four year old easier.
We decided to add sprinkles for a bit of teeny tiny fine motor precision work. Sprinkle the candies onto the layer of fondant and give it another rolling pin roll or two to press the sprinkles into the dough.
Then, we used our letter alphabet cookie cutters to press the marshmallow fondant sensory dough into candied letters.
Pressing the cookie cutters through the tough fondant really puts a proprioceptive punch on the small joints of the hands. This activity would be perfect as a fine motor handwriting activity by warming up and waking up the muscles of the hand and getting them ready for written work.
You can extend the activity further by cutting playdough
with scissors. Using this heavy weighted dough, you really develop strength and add heavy work feedback through the hands. Try making play dough snakes
and go from there.
There was quite a bit of tasting of our sensory dough. Which was perfectly fine with me. While it is made entirely of sugar and a completely horrible for dietary intake, it sure did provide a taste sensation. This sensory dough was fun in more ways than one!
After you’ve made an alphabet of letters with the marshmallow fondant dough, leave them out to air dry and harden. They can be added to cupcakes or a cake for a fun treat. Wouldn’t it be nice to make fondant letters together with your child to decorate their own birthday cake or to make a cake for a loved one?
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Looking for more Proprioception activities for your child? Try these: