Benefits of play dough

Occupational therapists always has a container of play dough in their therapy bag…there are just so many benefits of play dough. Squish, squeeze, pinch, flatten, roll, cut, stamp, and mold and other fine motor playdough activities are just a few of the ways children can engage with play dough. It’s a classic modeling compound that is timeless, holds popularity, as well as longevity in childhood development. We know that the primary job, or occupation, of children is play and playdough offers a tool for play while building skills. Because of that fact, one of the main benefits of play dough is it helps to develop skills while providing hours of satisfying fun for children of any age.

Benefits of play dough
Just some of the benefits of playing with playdough

Benefits of Play Dough

Learners of all ages and stages can reap the benefits of play dough. As an adult, don’t you still enjoy the squishing, squeezing, and molding fun using play dough?

Play dough can target many areas of skill development. Tons of inspirational ideas can be found online. There are many creative individuals online who share awesome ideas for play dough fun. As therapists, you can take those fun ideas and add your Occupational Therapy (OT) eye to build the skills a child needs for their specific development.

Play dough is a tactile gem, and occupational therapy practitioners know this!  There are so many benefits of play dough. Playing with this dough regularly is great, as it is a toy with no right or wrong way to play, is safe, and appeals to many people with various learning styles and needs. Children can make their own play dough making it even more fun!  

The benefits of playing with play dough include:

  • Fine motor skill development
  • Tactile sensory challenges
  • Bilateral coordination
  • Sensory development
  • Self regulation tool
  • Creative development
  • Eye-hand coordination development
  • Gross motor development
  • Social skill development
  • Life skill development
  • Learning skill development
  • Rapport-building tool

We’ll cover how to use play dough as a tool to support development in all of these areas in greater detail below.

As a side note, did you know that playdough was originally created as a wallpaper cleaner? This “mistake” turned out to be one of the most desirable and iconic playthings around…and kids gain all of the benefits of playing with playdough!

How to Develop Skills with Play Dough

So, when you pop open a tub of colorful play dough, you probably aren’t thinking about the benefits of playing with playdough…but your pediatric occupational therapist probably is!

Fine motor skill development

Play dough helps build multiple fine motor skills, while promoting play, as it instantly provides multi-sensory hands-on interaction. Children who are tactile seekers love to engage with play dough, and instantly begin squishing, squeezing, and molding it. 

If you are looking for ideas for therapeutic sessions, try these fun fine motor play dough activities to encourage fine motor skill development and hand strengthening throughout the year. 

If learners seem tired of routine fine motor and visual motor activities, adding these super fun play dough game boards and cards to your OT Toolbox will keep kids engaged, while building their skills.

Fine Motor Skills Developed through playing with Play Dough

  • Pinch strength
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Intrinsic muscle strengthening
  • Separation of the sides of the hand
  • Pincer grasp
  • Opposition
  • Tripod grasp
  • Wrist extension

If more strength and dexterity is needed, traditional thera-putty can be swapped for play dough.

Specific skill areas can be developed using play dough including:

Bilateral coordination

Another one of the benefits of play dough is building bilateral coordination. Bilateral coordination can be both sides of the body doing the same thing, working together, like squishing the play dough.

It can also be one hand holding the dough, while the other hand uses a tool. The addition of playdough tools can enhance skills and play.

Rolling a play dough snake is particularly effective for developing bilateral coordination skills. In many functional tasks, both hands do symmetrical task (buttoning a shirt, pulling up pants, jumping rope, etc. When rolling a lump of play dough with the hands together, one needs to use the same amount of pressure or force with both hands, and move the playdough together at the same time. Otherwise, the play dough snake is lopsided, or thin on one end and not the other.

There are many commercially available play dough tools, but there are also tools that can be found in the home!  Kitchen tools safe for children to use, are some of the best tools for bilateral hand skills. Start with simple flatware such as butter knives, forks, and spoons. Next, look through your utensil drawers.

Do you have a spatula, pizza wheel, cookie cutters, garlic press, rolling pin, scissors, potato masher, skewers, or a muffin pan? These are perfect for play dough playtime! Experiment and see what your learners like to use. Build those bilateral coordination skills, while also building early life skills, with the use of kitchen tools. It’s a win for childhood development. 

sensory development

Using play dough can be great for the sensory seeker who loves texture. Those who seek out heavy work through the hands can benefit from

While touching sticky or messy textures is difficult for the individual experiencing tactile defensiveness. For those who avoid textures, play dough can support development and tactile challenges with a sensory medium that is consistently the same texture each and every time. It is not as easy for the avoider who does not like to get messy. Sensory touch can be very limiting in some, so this is a good starting point to address defensiveness.

Traditional play dough is not as sticky as slime or other putties, making it a great tool for some individuals.

To use play dough to support tactile defensiveness, try these tips:

  • Add gloves for play with the learner with extreme avoidance, until they can tolerate touching the play dough.
  • Add different textures such as salt, glitter, beads, rice, to add more tactile input for your sensory seeker.
  • Be considerate of the smell of play dough. Some love it, while others can not tolerate this familiar smell.
  • Add your own scent in home made dough for olfactory input.

What other kinds of sensory input can you think of using play dough?

Provides calming and quiet time

Play dough can be used as a relaxing medium that provides calm and quiet time for children who are feeling anxious or stressed and need a break away from the noise and the action. 

This happens by the feedback of the dough as a resistive material, which offers heavy work through the hands, fingers, and arches of the hands. This feedback of proprioceptive input can be a coping strategy used in a sensory diet or as a self-regulation tool.

Play dough manipulation also provides tactile sensory awareness and proprioceptive input, which can serve to be therapeutic by giving deep pressure to the hands, fingers, and arms in a calming manner. 

If making your own play dough, add a little calming essential oil, and you’ve given it another desirable element for calm play, and time away. Another great benefit of play dough! 

One especially calming play dough recipe is our crayon play dough, and playing with the dough when warm is very calming.

As an added benefit, playdough mats support emotional regulation. These emotions playdough mats can be used in combination with other self regulation strategies to offer heavy work through the hands while building emotional intelligence in kids.

Boosts creativity and imagination

Working with play dough helps unlock the creative juices of a learner. Since there is no right or wrong, their creativity is unleashed and ready to go, using whatever materials are around and available. We covered using play dough imagination activities in greater detail on a previous blog post.

Pretend play activities like pressing flowers and rocks into play dough is a pretend play activity while building underlying areas of sensory and motor development.

If you have a few kiddos who seem to struggle with creativity, or imaginative play while at the play dough table, The OT Toolbox has you covered with these great play dough mats to facilitate engagement and boost creativity for kids.

Take a look at these play dough mats, and get your FREE copies in the links below:

Play dough Develops eye-hand coordination

Play dough is the perfect tool for kids to work on important eye-hand connection skills. Learners utilize hand-eye coordination to poke, cut, smash, and pinch the play dough.

Eye-hand connection is developed when using cookie cutters to cut playdough, and add accessories to decorate. Using stampers or objects to press into the dough to make images or scenes, can further build eye-hand coordination.

If you want a fun way to encourage play dough engagement, it can be fun to add a weekly or monthly theme to therapy sessions way to facilitate hand actions, for play dough manipulation, including tool use. Just use play dough in each session and switch out the manipulatives, cookie cutters, or items to hide in the play dough.

  • Get out a set of Mr. Potato Head pieces and work on pressing these into the dough to make a funny character.

Gross motor skill development

Play dough can be used for gross motor development also. Include playdough in an obstacle course as a stop between obstacles, or gross motor exercises. 

Try this:  walk the balance beam, then create a play dough stick figure, do a bear walk, next create a play dough bear face, roll in the tunnel, then roll a ball of play dough flat with a rolling pin, etc.

Use the same idea for exercise programming: complete an exercise, complete a play dough activity, and so on.

the benefits of play dough as a Multi-level tool

Play dough can be used as a foundation when using materials included in (Amazon affiliate link) play trays, and other themed activities.

There are many cool play dough tray ideas and inspiration for other themed activities that will make your play dough table the coolest table in the school building.

Examples of play trays

In addition to the above play dough tray ideas, there are several play dough kit ideas online ideal for the traveling therapist who needs to move throughout several buildings or homes. These kits are the perfect engagement tool, easily transported wherever you end up seeing a child for therapy. 

Playdough Kits

play dough builds life skills

Engaging with play dough can help to build important life skills as children follow simple recipes to make their own play dough, and use kitchen tools for engagement. They are measuring, mixing, and creating, while developing knowledge of tool use and hand skills in the kitchen.

When kids use play dough tools like plastic knives, play dough scissors, and other sculpting tools, they are strengthening the skills needed to hold a fork and spoon, developmental progression of grasping utensils, and particularly the skill of cutting food with a knife.

Play dough recipes can be adapted from a very simple dough recipe to add in different ingredients and materials to create recipes on a spectrum of abilities and cooking tasks.

Simple play dough recipe- This play dough recipe without cream of tarter is probably the simplest version which still challenges life skills.

Advanced play dough recipe- Did you know you can use crayons to make play dough? Pick a color or shade, or mix them a few to create a new shade.  This crayon play dough recipe does require an adult to perform the stovetop part of the recipe. An older, or more advanced learner could do it with supervision. 

On that spectrum of play dough recipes with varying difficulty are many of the best play dough recipes for therapy that we have here on the website.

Social skill development

Interacting with play dough provides social emotional learning and social skill development opportunities between children in a small group or child and adult. 

When using play dough as a tool, children participate together by talking, sharing, and co-building. 

When using play dough with no right or wrong way to play, play it is the perfect tool for social interaction without competition. 

Learning tool

One of the many benefits of play dough, is learning.  It can be a multi-level teaching tool for areas including math, literacy, and handwriting. 

Use playdough as a creative way to practice math skills and concepts, or use it to mold and shape letters to work on handwriting.

This is especially beneficial for kids who struggle with letter formation, and have weak fine motor skills. You can use play dough as part of a literacy routine, by creating scenes, acting out stories, stamping out sight words, representing new vocabulary terms, or using push pins to form words.

Rapport building tool

Play dough can help therapists/teachers/caregivers build rapport with new learners on their caseload or classroom during back-to-school rapport building periods or when meeting a new therapy client.

Simply present it and play. It is really that easy. 

Use a kit, tray, or a few cookie cutters, and you’ve got an instant engagement tool that allows for conversation and creation, while building that important therapeutic relationship.  

Now, go have some amazing playtime with this classic toy. You know you want to!

Regina Allen

Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!

Soap Play Dough Recipe

We signed up for another year of the 12 months of Sensory Dough series with a few other bloggers and have been having so much fun coming up with creative play dough recipes.  If you missed some of our other recent sensory dough recipes, you’ll want to catch up on the sensory fun: Proprioception Sensory DoughPaprika Natural Spice Dough, and Edible Pixy Stix Candy Dough  were tons of fun.  

Today’s homemade play dough recipe is definitely not edible but it does use ingredients you probably have in your home: Soap Play Dough is very soft, smells great, and is fun to mix up!
Make sensory play dough using liquid dish soap for a soft sensory play dough recipe that the kids will love!

Homemade Soap Play Dough Recipe


This post contains affiliate links. 

You’ll need just a few ingredients to whip up a batch of soap dough:
1/2 cup Liquid Dish Soap (We used the blue type.  I’m not sure if other colors of liquid dish soap would work in this recipe.  If you try it, let us know!)
1 cup Flour
1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar (I LOVE this bulk container for making play dough.  The ingredient really makes most play dough recipes softer and longer lasting.  You can’t always find Cream of Tartar in stores so this bulk buy is awesome to have in the house!)

Make sensory play dough using liquid dish soap for a soft sensory play dough recipe that the kids will love!

To make the Soap Play Dough Recipe

Grab a large glass mixing bowl and pour in the dish soap.  We used a glass measuring cup to measure out the soap and the grooved lip of the measuring cup made pouring the liquid soap so much easier.  My toddler was mesmerized by the falling dish soap! 

Make sensory play dough using liquid dish soap for a soft sensory play dough recipe that the kids will love!
Stir in the flour and cream of tartar.  Use spoons to get the mixture stirred at first, but then you’ll want to get your hands in there to really mix the ingredients.  Plop the play dough out onto a floured surface and knead, knead, knead!  

Kneading play dough is a great way to incorporate proprioception into a play dough activity.  It really applies pressure through the arms and up into the shoulder girdle.  You can add more flour at this point if the dough is too sticky.  Just be aware that the nature of this dough allows for some stickiness. The soap adds a bit of stick to the play dough, but it sure does smell great!

Make sensory play dough using liquid dish soap for a soft sensory play dough recipe that the kids will love!
Get the kids in on the play and have fun with your soap dough! 

Store this play dough overnight in a sealed container.  It will be more sticky the next day, but you can knead in a bit of flour or just work the dough a little bit.  It will be softer the next day, too.

Try these soap dough recipes from our blogging friends:
Bath Time Play Dough | Sugar, Spice & Glitter
Super Squishy DIY Soap Dough | Natural Beach Living
Easy Soap Dough Play Recipe | Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail

Make sensory play dough using liquid dish soap for a soft sensory play dough recipe that the kids will love!
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If you liked this post, you will love to check out more of our favorite sensory dough recipes:

                         Fizzy Soda Dough

Paprika Natural Play Dough Recipe

This month’s sensory dough is all about the natural ingredients.  We made this paprika spice play dough one rainy afternoon and can’t get enough of the rich scent while playing.  We used a basic stove-top recipe that uses all natural ingredients (except for the processed white flour) and was a fun experiment in natural sensory play dough!


Paprika Spice Natural Play Dough Recipe

Paprika Natural Play Dough Recipe

This post contains affiliate links.


This recipe is easy to make, using a basic (and classic) stove top recipe. 


1 cup flour 
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
2 Tbsp oil
2 tsp Cream of Tartar
2-3 Tbsp Paprika


On the stove top, heat all of the ingredients, mixing constantly  When the dough pulls together, turn it out on a floured surface.  Knead the dough until smooth.


Now play! 


   Paprika Spice Natural Play Dough Recipe

We used this dough in a few different play activities.  My Toddler loved this dough and I’m happy knowing that if she tastes a bit, it doesn’t have all of the extra ingredients that store bought dough has.  


Have you made Natural Play Dough?  What kind?


Stop by and see the other Natural Play Dough recipes from the Sensory Dough blogging team:


Natural Play Dough with Natural Dye | Lemon Lime Adventures
Natural Chamomile Playdough Recipe | Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail

Paprika Natural Play Dough Recipe | Sugar Aunts


  Paprika Spice Natural Play Dough Recipe


Looking for more sensory play dough recipes?  Try these:


Kindergarten Sight Words Cloud Dough

We’ve done quite a few sight words activities on this site.  What’s cool is that the activities that we did with my now second grade daughter are still fun and working great with my kindergartner son this year.  Today, I’ve got a sensory sight word activity using Cloud Dough.


Adding a tactile (and sensory) approach to sight words may just help the memorization of words “stick”.   We made this cloud dough that was brightly colored and smelled great using a few materials we had in the house.

Sight word sensory bin with cloud dough made with baby oil and baby powder

 Cloud Dough Recipe for Sensory Exploration

To make the cloud dough, we used just a few ingredients (Affiliate links are included in this post):
3 cups Baby Powder
1/2 cup Baby Oil
2 sticks of Sidewalk Chalk
 
Mix the baby powder and baby oil with your fingers.  Use a Kitchen Mallet to crush the chalk into dust.  
This is an EXCELLENT proprioceptive activity that the kids really got into.  Smashing that chalk into smithereens requires a lot of muscle power and “wakes up” the muscles to the heavy work of pounding that hammer.  Try this pounding activity before a quiet and calming activity like writing.
 
Sprinkle the chalk dust into the cloud dough and mix by hand.  You can play with the cloud dough without the chalk dust, but we wanted a bright blue color.  
 
It took us a little bit of experimentation, (and blue hands), but we found out that mixing liquid food coloring into the cloud dough (even mixed into water or mixed into extra oil) will not give this sensory dough a bright color.  Instead, you’ll end up with dyed hands.
 
Now, start playing!


Cloud Dough Sight Word Activity

Cloud dough is very fun.  It’s moldable and a great sensory dough to explore.  We decided to add sight words to this sensory bin.  I used bright index cards to write out Kindergarten sight words.  We cut the words into smaller sizes and hid them in the cloud dough. 
 


To play sight word games with Cloud Dough:

Sight word sensory bin with cloud dough made with baby oil and baby powder
Write two sets of sight words.  Play different games.  Some of our favorite games to play with sight words can be done right in the cloud dough:
  • Play Memory with the sight words in the cloud dough.  Hide and turn the sight word cards in the dough.  Take turns looking for matches.
  • Scatter one set of sight words in the dough and the other set outside of the sensory bin.  Take turns quickly looking for matches of words.
  • Create small balls of cloud dough.  Push the cards into the dough and stand words up.  Ask your child to read the words and smash the cloud dough balls. This game is always a hit with the kids.
  • Play Hide and Seek for sight words in the cloud dough.
Sight word sensory bin with cloud dough made with baby oil and baby powder
Sight word sensory bin with cloud dough made with baby oil and baby powder
 
We love creative sight words activities!  Here are some of our favorite ways to work on name practice in kindergarten through hands-on play.

                                    Sight Words Ping Pong Bounce Game
                                                   Sight Word Scooping 
 
Sight word sensory bin with cloud dough made with baby oil and baby powder

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Oobleck in the Marble Run Sensory Play

Oobleck in the marble run for sensory play, Oh Yes! Oobleck is such a cool sensory material.  What is Oobleck?  It’s a non-Newtonian material that has characteristics of liquids and solids.  We made a batch of Oobleck and played with in in our marble run set.  We have tried sensory play with our marble run before and knew that we had to try oobleck in the marble run for messy, sensory mesmerizing play.  This was FUN!
Ooobleck recipe and sensory play with a marble run! This is awesome sensory play and creative fine motor work when kids scoop and pour the oobleck into the marble run.  Watching the oobleck slowly run down the marble run is so mesmerizing and calming!


Oobleck Recipe for Sensory Play

(This post contains affiliate links.)  We used a typical Oobleck recipe , using a little less cornstarch to make a runnier version.  To make oobleck, you’ll need a few ingredients:

1 cup water
1.5 to 2 cups Corn Starch (We used a little more than 1 and a 1/4 cup to get a liquidy oobleck material)
A few drops of liquid food coloring

Mix the water and Corn Starch together with your hands.  Don’t be afraid to get messy.  This is a sensory experience!  You can make the oobleck material in a large shallow bin like this one.

If you are worried about the mess with this activity, play outside or lay down a sheet or tablecloth before playing.  It will get messy!

Oobleck is a fun activity on it’s own (and don’t forget to read Dr. Seuss’ Bartholomew and the Oobleck!)
Ooobleck recipe and sensory play with a marble run! This is awesome sensory play and creative fine motor work when kids scoop and pour the oobleck into the marble run.  Watching the oobleck slowly run down the marble run is so mesmerizing and calming!
This stuff looks pretty cool, right??

Now, you can play with the Oobleck in many ways (draw letters on the bottom of the bin, squish and drop the liquid-solid, get messy…but even more fun, is adding a Marble Run to the sensory play!
Ooobleck recipe and sensory play with a marble run! This is awesome sensory play and creative fine motor work when kids scoop and pour the oobleck into the marble run.  Watching the oobleck slowly run down the marble run is so mesmerizing and calming!
Start by building your marble run on the table and NOT in the bin of oobleck.  Then, carefully transport the marble run into the bin.  Add spoons or scoops, and get ready to get messy!

Ooobleck recipe and sensory play with a marble run! This is awesome sensory play and creative fine motor work when kids scoop and pour the oobleck into the marble run.  Watching the oobleck slowly run down the marble run is so mesmerizing and calming!

Ooobleck recipe and sensory play with a marble run! This is awesome sensory play and creative fine motor work when kids scoop and pour the oobleck into the marble run.  Watching the oobleck slowly run down the marble run is so mesmerizing and calming!

Transfer, scoop, and pour the oobleck as you watch it slide down the run.  It is mesmerizing and calming to watch!  I was surprised to see that the kids scooped and poured very carefully as they watched the oobleck slowly slide down the marble run.  This is one activity that we will be doing again soon!

Ooobleck recipe and sensory play with a marble run! This is awesome sensory play and creative fine motor work when kids scoop and pour the oobleck into the marble run.  Watching the oobleck slowly run down the marble run is so mesmerizing and calming!
Next up is using the marble run in a big sink of soapy bubbles.  (Not joking! Watch for that post from us, soon!)
Love it?  PIN IT.  You can find more sensory activities from around the internet on our SENSORY ACTIVITIES Pinterest board.  Follow along and pin with us!

Looking for more oobleck activities from our sensory dough blogging team?  Try these ideas:
Apple Cinnamon Oobleck | Study at Home Mama
A few sensory play ideas you may like:
   

3 Ingredient Kinetic Sand Recipe

We’re excited to share this 3 Ingredient Kinetic Sand Recipe today.  This batch of homemade sensory dough was SO much fun to make and beyond messy, sensory fun to play with.  We kept this dough out all day long and played as we passed the bin.  This is a dough that you can’t keep your hands out of! I loved how easy it is to put this dough together and my kids loved getting their hands messy.  We added a math component to our sensory dough using seashells and dominoes that we had in our collection.  The fine motor skills that happen with a material like Kinetic Sand are perfect for little ones!
 
We’re adding this post to our month-long series where we learn with free (or almost free) materials that we already have in our home.  You can see all of our ideas in the Learning with Free Materials series, part of the 31 Days of Homeschooling Tips as we blog along with other bloggers with learning at home tips and tools.
Make this easy 3 ingredient Kinetic Sand recipe and use in play and learning at home activities, including math with preschool and grade school kids.

Make this easy 3 ingredient Kinetic Sand recipe and use in play and learning at home activities, including math with preschool and grade school kids.

Easy 3 Ingredient Kinetic Sand Recipe

This post contains affiliate links.
 
To make Kinetic Sand, you’ll need just three ingredients.
2 cups sand
About 1/2 bottle of shaving cream
One box baking soda
 
When we started out making this dough, I wasn’t imagining a kinetic sand-type of sensory dough.  I was picturing a foamy, sandy, sensory material.  Our kinetic sand turned out being much cooler to play with! We started by adding together the sand and the shaving cream.  We didn’t quite measure accurately while mixing.  This is definitely a messy play experience and measuring just didn’t happen for us.  Add about half of the bottle of shaving cream or until the sand/shaving cream is moist and sticks to the hands, but holds together slightly.  While the consistency was very sensory, it turned out being just a little too moist.
Make this easy 3 ingredient Kinetic Sand recipe and use in play and learning at home activities, including math with preschool and grade school kids.
Make this easy 3 ingredient Kinetic Sand recipe and use in play and learning at home activities, including math with preschool and grade school kids.
We then decided to try adding something to hold the dough together better.  We slowly mixed in 1/2 of a box of baking soda (add about 8 oz).  Adding the baking soda really gave our mushy sand dough a moldable, kinetic dough-type of consistency.  The consistency of your dough will vary depending on the type of sand you use and how much shaving cream you add.  Mix in more baking soda until the dough holds together.  You will be able to mold the dough at this point.  If you can not mold the dough because it is too sticky, just mix in more baking soda. 
Make this easy 3 ingredient Kinetic Sand recipe and use in play and learning at home activities, including math with preschool and grade school kids.
Make this easy 3 ingredient Kinetic Sand recipe and use in play and learning at home activities, including math with preschool and grade school kids.
This is a messy sensory dough.  You may want to do this play experience outdoors, or prepare your indoor area beforehand with a plastic table cloth under your bin.  We love to use a large storage bin for messy sensory doughs like this one.
Make this easy 3 ingredient Kinetic Sand recipe and use in play and learning at home activities, including math with preschool and grade school kids.

 

Kinetic Sand Math

Make this easy 3 ingredient Kinetic Sand recipe and use in play and learning at home activities, including math with preschool and grade school kids.
I love when the kids add to a play activity that we have going on.  The creative play that happens when they add something to a dough is fun, creative, and even a learning opportunity! They pulled out dominoes that we had in the house and stick them into the kinetic sand.  We decided to play some dominoes.
Make this easy 3 ingredient Kinetic Sand recipe and use in play and learning at home activities, including math with preschool and grade school kids.
Pressing the dominoes into the kinetic sand was fun for my seven year old.  I pulled out two dominoes and asked her to add the total number of dots on each domino.  She then determined which domino had a greater total number.  We used the side of a domino to create a greater than or less than symbol.
 
Don’t have dominoes?  Add seashells or rocks to the kinetic sand and count them out.  Make the greater than/less than symbols between the sets of seashells or rocks.  Pressing the dominoes into the sand really works the fine motor skills. Kinetic Sand is such a resistive material that works on strength of the hands.  Occupational Therapists need this in their therapy bag!
Make this easy 3 ingredient Kinetic Sand recipe and use in play and learning at home activities, including math with preschool and grade school kids.
 
We created a math activity for my three year old as well.  She helped me squeeze the kinetic sand into balls.  We placed them in a row and I asked her to count out the number of sand balls in each row.  This one-to-one correspondence is a  fun preschool math activity.
 
 
Looking for more Sand sensory dough recipes?  
 
See what the other bloggers in the 12 months of sensory dough series made this month:
DIY Moon Sand | Lemon Lime Adventures
Bring the Beach Home with Taste Safe Sand Dough | Bare Feet on the Dashboard
Baby Safe Sand Dough | Creative World of Varya
Edible Sand Dough | Wildflower Ramblings
Music Inspired Beach Dough | Witty Hoots
Rock Pool Sand Dough | Peakle Pie
Sand Foam Dough | Squiggles and Bubbles
Dinosaur Fossils with Sand Dough | Preschool Powol Packets
Foaming Beach Sand Dough | on Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail
More creative sensory doughs you can make at home: 
 

How to make Stovetop Clean Mud Sensory Play

Have you ever made clean mud?  This sensory dough is very cool.  We’ve made the standard version before (you know the clean mud sensory dough where you cook a bar of ivory soap in the microwave?).  This month in the 12 months of sensory dough series, we thought we would try a new version of clean mud.  We made a stovetop clan mud using body wash.  This sensory dough turned out to be a very cool messy play activity and we ended up doing a little birthday party pretend play, too!
How to make clean mud with body wash! For sensory play
(This post contains affiliate links.)


How to make stovetop clean mud:

 With a broken microwave, we were out of luck making the traditional recipe for clean mud.  Or were we??? Why not try a stove top version of clean mud for a different twist on the usual clean mud recipe.  Instead of a bar of Ivory soap, we used body wash. (This scent also had a pink tint to it and the body wash made for a great cherry/vanilla scent.)

 
We started by filling a pot with torn toilet paper.  (We used the same pot we used for melting crayons for our crayon play dough.  If you don’t have a cheap sauce pan for kitchen experiments, be sure to pick one up. We use ours all the time!) Usually we make a large batch of clean mud using a whole roll of toilet paper.  This time, we just made a small amount.
 
If there was ever a reason for two kids to be happy, it was being told by an adult to go ahead and shred toilet paper.  These two sisters were in heaven!



Next,  add one tablespoon of body wash and one tablespoon of water.  Stir everything together over heat on the stove.  Keep stirring until the clean mud reaches the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Remove from heat and continue to stir.


Dump the clean mud onto a clean surface and let cool to touch.  Knead the dough just a bit to add “fluff” to the sensory dough.  You want the clean mud to be squishy but not too soapy.  You can adjust the texture by adding more toilet paper or soap/water.

How to make clean mud on the stove top (not microwave)
This stuff was so neat to play with!  We pulled out a few measuring cups and spoons to scoop, measure, and pat out.
Clean Mud birthday party sensory and pretend play
 
We decided to make our clean mud into a birthday party celebration for no reason in particular.  Singing “Happy Birthday” to every stuffed animal in the house is always a fun way to spend an afternoon.
 
We used pink cupcake liners
and red coffee stirrers
to create cupcakes and candles.
birthday party clean mud sensory pretend play
Birthday Party pretend play with clean mud sensory play
This was a huge hit in our house and we will certainly be making Stovetop Clean Mud again!

Play Dough Scented with Body Wash

Oh, how we love play dough!  This month on the 12 months of Sensory Dough series is scented dough.  I can’t wait to see what the other bloggers joining us have to share for scented sensory dough you can make at home.  The olfactory sense is a very powerful one.  Scents can be calming or alerting to children (and adults!) and can evoke memories.  Scented sensory play and activities are beneficial to children who are over-responsive or under-responsive to the sense of smell.  
 
We created our scented dough with an item that it seems we always have around the house.   Body wash smells amazing, comes in so many scents, and it seems to multiply in the cupboard.  
 
(OK, not really, but we do seem to have a TON of body wash.  All the time.)
 


Make Play Dough scented with Body Wash

Did you know you can make your own homemade scented play dough using body wash?  This stuff smells amazing and is so easy to make!

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body wash play dough recipe

We’ve got a ton of body wash collecting dust in our cupboard.  They come in as gifts, samples, collected from hotel stays…and they are definitely used…but today, we made dough!  This dough can use any scent of body wash, although different brands may change the dough’s consistency.  We trialed two recipes with this dough and came up with a soft, moldable, scented dough that we loved!


For our dough, we used Bath and Body Works Velvet Sugar
and Bath & Body Works Beautiful Day
(which has a great apple-y scent).

Shower gel scented play dough made with flour and baby powder. A fun sensory play experience!
 
This dough is very easy to make.  The green dough used the Bath & Body Works Beautiful Day and baby powder and became a soft, moldable dough that was very soft to the touch.  The pink dough used Bath and Body Works Velvet Sugar and flour.  It was a firmer dough and not as soft to mold.
 

Body Wash Sensory Play Dough Recipe

To make the dough, add 1 TBSP body wash to 1/2 cup baby powder (or flour).  Mix together by hand to make a crumbly mixture.  Add 2 TBSP water and continue mixing.  The baby power will be difficult to mix with a utensil and mixing by hand is easier.  Add a few drops of food coloring and continue mixing.  The flour dough needed more kneading.  

Time to play!  The body wash gives these doughs a great scent.  Many dough recipes that have salt lose the scent.  This recipe seems to hold it’s scent for a while after playing.  



The pink dough (made with flour) was much more resistive and a greater workout for the hand muscles compared to the green (baby powder) dough.  If you’re looking for hand strengthening, the pink really worked those intrinsic muscles!

 

Pretend Play with Play Dough

Use your scented dough to make cookies with a great scent.  We made pink and green cookies.

 
**Always supervise your child when playing with scented doughs.  This dough should not be ingested and the scent may encourage any child to taste. 
Looking for more scented sensory dough ideas?