Orange Zest Salt Dough Recipe

We love a fun play dough recipe!  From glow in the dark dough to crayon dough, we’ve done a lot of dough experiments.  This time, we whipped up a salt dough recipe with an added ingredient…orange zest!

This recipe is perfect for ornaments for the holidays, or just a fun sensory experience for playing with.  The kids loved zesting their oranges (and then eating the insides) and have actually been asking to zest an orange each day since!




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To make orange zest salt dough, you’ll need a few ingredients:

flour
salt
water
orange

We started with our standard salt dough recipe and added 1/2 cup of orange zest.

The kids seriously zested oranges for close to an hour.  Our salt dough had more than a little pulp added in, but that’s ok.  We used a box cheese grater and that worked great for the kids.  Keep a close eye on children if they are zesting oranges.  It’s easy to scrape knuckles, but with supervision, this is a fine activity for children (my five year old and 7 year old did this part…I helped the 3 year old with hand over hand assistance).



Our kitchen smelled amazing.


Mix the zest into the salt dough and knead, knead, knead.  This is the important part and if your dough seems to sticky, keep kneading.  You can add a bit more flour, too.

Awesome!  Once the zest was fully kneaded into the salt dough, the scent was less strong.

We started playing!  Flatten out the dough, roll, cut with cookie cutters.  I LOVE using my mini mason jars as a cookie cutter or ornament cutter.  It’s the perfect size.



We did need a little bit of flour added to the surface of our cutting board while we played with the dough.  Dab the salt dough onto the flour and cut with a cookie cutter or mason jar.



We made starts and will use them for fun Christmas ornaments.  Kind of like our gingerbread salt dough recipe where we made gingerbread men for a fun garland.



If you make your dough into an ornament, bake on a cookie sheet for 3 hours at 200 degrees Fahrenheit.  Be sure to poke a hole in the dough before baking.  We used a chop stick.

This post is part of the 12 months of sensory dough series

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Spring Sensory Water Bin Play Date Activity

We are so excited to share our first Spring activity of the year!  This winter has been a loooong one! (and with it still being frigidly cold out side with inches of snow on the ground…the actual first signs of Spring seem a long way off!)
This Spring Sensory Water Bin is part of the All Things Kids bloggers Spring Sensory Play Date Activities series during the month of March.  We put this water bin together to celebrate Spring and friends.  What better way to kick off warmth and sunshine with a playdate with friends.  When you get a few toddler or preschool-aged friends together, what better way to play than with sensory play activities? 

This Spring themed activity is perfect for a play date.

Spring Sensory Water Bin

{Note: This post contains affiliate links.  In other words, this blog will receive monetary compensation when any purchases are made through the links in this post.  Our opinions and ideas are in no way affected.  You can read our full disclosure policy here.  As always, we thank you for your support and community here at Sugar Aunts.}

RELATED READ: Simple Spring Sensory
Play date activity with a sensory and fine motor Spring theme.
We are big fans of water bins for play and this one was no different!  We started with a bin of water scented with Pomegranate Body Scrub.  Just a little bit of the bath salts were all we needed to scent the water with a nice Spring fresh scent.  Any scented bath salts (or body wash/bubble bath) would work.  We just wanted to get a fresh scent and the rose colored water. 
You’ll want to watch smaller children who are playing with this water bin very closely.  You don’t want any tastes of the scented water, and especially if salts are being used!  Use your best judgment and if there is a concern, eliminate the scented portion of this activity.  Regular water would work fin, or even a few drops of food coloring, if you want to achieve the colored part of the water bin.
Tulip and butterfly water bin for a Spring play date.
I added a few foam butterfly crafting sheets
and foam tulip crafting sheets to the water bin and a handful of
foam Spring stickers.  When these foam sheets and stickers get wet, they can stick to the foam and plastic plates very easily.  They can be removed and placed again and again without difficulty.
This is a perfect activity for a Spring play date.

Placing these foam stickers on the large foam sheets is a great way to practice tip to tip grasp and fine motor skills.  baby Girl had a hard time understanding that the sticker’s backs would not peel off once they were wet, but she got the hang of just placing the foam shapes in different places once I showed her.

Kids love to explore senses in water play. This Spring themed sesnory activity is great for a play date.

Scooping up the floating shapes from the scented water was so much fun and a great way to practice visual scanning and eye-hand coordination, too.  We didn’t add any scoops to this activity, but a few kitchen utensils like large spoons or an ice cream scoop would be a fun way to further extend this sensory water bin.

Toddlers will love this Spring-themed water bin.

Baby Girl just enjoyed getting her hands in the water and grabbing up the shapes.  Sensory play at it’s finest!

Sensory and fine motor play perfect for Spring!
We used our plastic plates
to sort and play with the foam stickers.  The wet stickers stuck nicely to the plastic plates, too.
Scented water adds a sensory component to a Spring water bin.
What is water play without a little scooping and transferring?  A couple of small bowls and a turkey baster were perfect for more fine motor play in our Spring water bin. 
Using the turkey baster to transfer scented water not only stimulates the senses, but works on gross hand grasp.  What a great fine motor strengthening tool the turkey baster is! 
Hopefully this is inspiration for your next play date.  If you’re worried about the mess, you could set this up in a small baby pool or in a bath tub.  If you’re in warmer climates than we are, take it outside.  I know we will be re-doing this activity once the weather turns and we can get outside!
Let us know if you do this Spring Sensory Water bin or something like it.  We would love to hear about it or see pictures.  Just stop by our Facebook page and share your fun with us!
Be sure to catch all of the other Spring Sensory Play Date Activities being posted this week over at our bloggy friend’s sites:
Do you have a Spring Sensory activity to share?  Link it up all month long below.  we will be pinning to the All Things Kids Pinterest board and creating a round-up of fun Spring Sensory Play Date Activities at the end of the month.  We would love to feature YOU!

Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Sparkle Craft

 
Are you getting ready for Valentine’s day?  Maybe putting together a few ideas for next week or just enjoying the pretty pink pictures (is Valentine’s Day reeeeally a holiday??)  maybe you are looking for a few Valentine’s Day activities to use in occupational therapy. Either way, you have to admit…the hearts, love, and kindness is pretty contagious!   We’ve been having fun doing a few Valentines Day activities and this Sparkle Heart Craft was no exception.  Valentine’s Day Activities are just FUN.  This one was scented and smelled as pretty as it looked.
 
 
picture of sparkle heart craft for kids to make

 

 
{Note: This post contains affiliate links.  In other words, this blog will receive monetary compensation when any purchases are made through the links in this post.  Our opinions and ideas are in no way affected.  You can read our full disclosure policy here.  As always, we thank you for your support and community here at Sugar Aunts.} 

Scented Valentine’s Day Sparkle Heart Craft

 
We started with a few supplies:
craft paper to cover the table (this was essential with this craft!)
glue
 
Construction paper hearts and bath salts

I cut a few hearts from the construction paper.  Baby Girl did this craft with me and she was excited to see the hearts.

I poured a little of the pomegranate bath salts into a little cup.  They smelled SO good!  This craft was turning sensory already.

Bath salts sprinkled on glue for a heart craft for kids

Next, I used the glue to draw a couple of hearts and showed Baby Girl how to sprinkle the salts on the glue.  She was hooked!

She LOVED this activity!  She squeezed the glue and drew all kinds of decorations on our red hearts.  Sprinkling the bath salts was a great way to encourage tripod grasp.  Using the pointer finger, middle finger, and thumb to grasp with the ring and pinkie fingers tucked into the palm is a tripod grasp.  She sprinkled the salts all over the glue.  I had to cut more hearts because she wanted to keep making more and more sparkly hearts!

Valentine’s Day Craft with Fine Motor Skills

 
This craft worked on tripod grasp by sprinkling the bath salts (with a great scent!) and gross grasp of the hand when squeezing the glue bottle.  This was a great activity for little hands!
 
Toddler squeezing glue onto construction paper hearts

Looking for more Valentine’s Day activities?  You may also like Valentine’s Day Goop Painting for more sensory and fine motor fun!

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Visual Contrast Sensory Letter Writing

We practiced writing letters in coffee grounds one morning after Mom cleaned out a cupboard.  Why did I buy Instant Decaf? YUCK! So, before we tossed them, we had to play with them.  Of course 😉

Visual Contrast Letter Writing

I poured the coffee grounds onto a white cutting board for maximum contrast and had Big Sister practice some lower case letters.  She loved this!  The black on white let the letters really show.  She felt so special doing this activity because she could play with coffee!

Sensory Letter Writing

We practiced the letters that are easy to reverse (b, d, p, g, d) and a few words that she knows how to spell.  She stood at the kitchen counter for a while making letters. 

Little Guy had to get in on the action and make some shapes, too. 

A great multi-sensory input way to practice letters!

Relaxing Lavender Water Bin

We have big plans for our Summer Play series this month!  You may have seen our post  Play The Summer Away: Water Bin Play by The Sugar Aunts post last week where we let everyone know we are joining Jaime over at Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails  in this fun water bin play series.  Each Monday in July we are planning a different themed water bin.  You will be able to see Jaime’s version and ours.  We are very excited to see the two different versions of a same theme and by the end of July, share 10 different water bins with you.

Relaxing Lavender Water Bin

 
We started July off right with a Relaxing Lavender Water Bin.
This was very easy to throw together:
water
purple finger paint
purple glitter
beads
 scraps of purple plastic table cloths
clear plastic cups for pouring and transferring…and scooping, and dumping…
dried lavender/cloves/rosemary
 and a few drops of lavender oil
The scent was the best touch for this! Completely relaxing and we all played in the water loving the smell of lavender and cloves!   We just used an under the bed storage bin and it was perfect for scooping and pouring the water.  Baby Girl loved dumping the water, scooping it up, and pouring the purple water into cups.
 We’ve used this storage bin before for water play and Baby Girl knows where the fun is…getting right in the water!
I love the glitter on Baby Girl’s little legs 🙂
And the driveway is only slightly glittery.
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Calming Waterbead Sensory Bin

We play a lot with water beads.  These blue water beads were part of a 3 pack I found at Walmart.  I wanted to try a calming sensory bin for a while, and the blue water bead pack was perfect!
 
…with three crazy kids, mom needs a little calming activity every now and then :)…

Calming Colors.

Blue is peaceful and relaxing, and produces calming chemicals in the body.  Purple is a color that promotes imagination and is associated with relaxing and calm colors.  It’s said that lighter shades of purple are calming, while deeper shades are stimulating as they pull in more red tones.
 
There is a lot of research out there telling us about how color affects mood and behavior.  Blue and Greens release neurotransmitters that relax and calm the body.  They lower body temperature, decrease perspiration, and suppress appetite.  Reds and Yellows encourage creativity.  (So, pull out those bright and stimulating color strips when you’re getting ready to paint the dramatic play/art/block area!) 





 

Calming Scents.

The sense of smell sends information directly to the brain.  Certain scents can increase our ability to learn, create, think  and attend. Peppermint, basil, lemon, and cinnamon are linked to mental alertness.  Lavender, chamomile, orange, and rose are linked to relaxation and calmness. 

Calming Sensory Bin.

I used our blue water beads and added purple food coloring to the water.  Just a few drops were needed, and the water turned a nice calming shade of purple.  I added a few drops of lavender extract for a nice relaxing scent.  
 
This really was a calming activity for the kids.  They played with the water beads and let them fall between their fingers.  They did go into the kitchen and grab my spatula and whisk.  
 
((They do this every time we pull out the water beads!))
 
Baby Girl played for a long time with this.  She loved it!
Have you done any calming sensory bins?  
 

Easy Potpourri **25 Days of Christmas Play**

Day 21 of 25 Days of Christmas Play
 
We had a break from the rain and clouds this afternoon and went outside for a little while, along with scissors and a bowl.  We went on a hunt around the yard for Christmas-y smelling branches to add to an easy potpourri.  
 

 
 
The big kids of course, had no idea what potpourri means…but when we started smelling the pine needles and adding them and pine cones to a bowl, they got the picture a little bit. 
 
Plus, it was just really fun to snip the bushes 🙂

 

 

 
Baby Girl just had fun throwing pine cones into the bowl.  
 
 
She looooooves to do what the big kids do, so carrying the bowl around the yard was pretty special too 🙂

 

 
We took a little break for some balance beam work in the woods…

 

 
Then we went inside to add some orange peels to our potpourri (and have an orange snack…)

 

 
I have to say that this smells pretty amazing and definitely Christmas-y!  I am going to add a couple of cinnamon sticks and throw it in the mini-crock with some water tomorrow.  Check our Facebook page for an update on the scent in the house 😉 

 

 
Enjoy today!
 

UPDATE: I put this potpourri (along with a few cinnamon sticks) in a pan of water on the stove.  I let it simmer over low heat for a few hours and the house smelled AMAZING!  You could even smell the scent from outside our front door.  So Christmas-y! This would totally work in a small crock pot with water. Try this! You won’t be disappointed!

Colleen

 

Peppermint Play Dough **25 Days of Christmas Play**

 
Day 10 of 25 Days of Christmas Play
 

Peppermint Play Dough 

This was super easy to make, considering we used the Scented Snowman Play Dough that we already had in the house…I do have to say though, that since somebody (cough, Little Guy, cough) put the bag of Dough into the freezer…it was a liiiitle dry after thawing out.  Not too badly, though…nothing a tablespoon of vegetable oil didn’t fix!

 

 
 
I split the dough into halves and made a little well with my finger in one of the halves.  After putting some red food dye in, and mixing up a bit, it started to look pretty neat!
 
 
A tip: Use a plastic shopping bag to mix the food coloring in.  Unless you want reeeeally red hands!

 

Getting there:
 
Getting closer: 

 

 This is how I had it set up for the kids this morning.  They were so excited to play with the Peppermint Dough!  Oh, and also, mixing the dough around so much makes the scent pretty much non-existent.  The scent just gets mixed in the more it is used.  I do think it would be pretty cool to add some peppermint extract to this for an added sensory experience!
 
 
It has been so much fun coming up with fun play ideas and sharing them with our readers.  We are truly having a blast with this!  Thank you, readers, for all of your kind words and encouragement with this blog that has so far, been really fun and rewarding to do.  We love knowing that our ideas have inspired you!