Inside: This easy to make homemade playdough recipe uses ingredients you probably already have in the kitchen. Plus, some activities to do with your playdough and the many benefits of using play dough, for all ages!
Play Dough is such a great thing for kids and adults. There are many ways to use it to foster development in mutliple skill areas–sensory, fine motor, language and more.
And this homemade playdough recipe can have you playing with yours in a matter of minutes.
In looking for benefits of playdough for adults, it really is the same list as children. As far as activities, I don’t worry too much about what is age-appropriate.
If the person enjoys the activity and is experiencing the developmental benefits, then who cares? Call it clay if someone has a problem with using the word playdoh.
1. Developmental Benefits of Play Dough
- Working with clay can help develop fine motor skills and hand strength.
- It can be calming for children and adults to manipulate the playdough with their hands.
- Playdough can help support language development and social skills.
- It can encourages creativity and be an open-ended activity.
- Working with clay can enhance hand-eye coordination and following directions (depends if it is free play or structured activity).
- Can help work through sensory aversions or satisfy sensory cravings. There are even special therapy doughs sold that have specific scents.
2. Using Playdough in Therapy
I’m using the term “therapy” very generously. I’m a Mom. I don’t necessarily think that I’m providing therapy to my child, since I’m not a therapist.
However, we are doing beneficial activities together. And, they are activities that he likely wouldn’t have done on his own, without me initiating.
3. Playdough Activities
- Hand Strength– Working and manipulating dough in your hands is a great way to increase hand strength. You can even have them work on arm strength if the dough is particularly tough to work with, such as rolling it with a rolling pin, which takes more than the hands.
- Sensory-Different recipes of playdough will feel differently in a child’s hands. And, of course they will have different smells. You can even add essential oils to some of them to change the smell.
- Redirection-Have a child exhibiting unwanted behavior? Get out some playdough and redirect them. They can bang out their frustrations on a lump of playdough instead of their classmate. It can get them out of a rut of destructive or negative thinking if they enjoy working with the playdough.
- Language and Literacy-Talk about what they are making. Talk about colors, scents. Make letters and numbers out of the clay, or flatten out a sheet of dough and carve the letters with a pencil or popsicle stick. Trying having the person make letters with the clay, such as is suggested with the Orton Gillingham Approach.
- Story telling and Sequencing-The person can either build a scene/set out of the clay and tell you about it, or give them sequential steps of a task you want them to complete. Don’t be afraid to introduce other things into the playdough such as little army guys or other plastic figures, to help with stories and sequencing. You can also use sequencing if they are helping you follow the directions or recipe to make the playdough, or if you are doing a multi-step activity such as first making the playdough, then a creation, then drying and decorating that creation.
- Fine and Gross Motor– Building, rolling, shaping, making…depending on the complexity of the task, a child can hone in on both fine and gross motor skills. You can add all sorts of things to your playdough-small plastic figures, rocks/stones, beads, buttons, punch holes in your creation and add a ribbon to hang…so much can be tied in to these activities.
- Bilateral Coordination-Many kids struggle to use both hands at the same time to complete a task. Think of holding a steak steady on your plate with a fork in one hand, and slicing it with a knife in the other. That is a set of coordination skills that many take for granted. This is a task that can be practiced repeatedly using playdough.
- Imaginary Play- So many kiddos struggle with this concept. Playdough can be a great way to create “pretend” things and talk about them. Make fake money or fake food with your dough and act out scenarios.
- Creativity– We also all know of that one kid with rigid thinking and no creativity–the one who can build the most complex Lego creation following the directions, but hand them a bucket of Legos without directions and they can’t build a thing. Hand them a few lumps of playdough and encourage conversation and creativity. No blueprints except those that exist in the mind. You can also choose a recipe that you know will harden if you leave it out, and then consider painting it when it dries. Get small stones, beads, sequins, buttons or other kids of embellishments to put on the creation before it dries. The possibilities are endless and children may need just a few prompts to get them going.
- Social Skills– Do this as a small group. Set ground rules such as no judging, no criticizing, no “that’s stupid, why did you make that?” Have the kids each make something and then they have to tell the others about it. Have them work in pairs to collaboratively come up with something.
And of course, it’s always fun and fine to just play with it! Sometimes us grownups forget that.
4. Homemade Playdough Recipe
You should read lists of play dough ingredients if allergens are a concern.
Homemade Play Dough Ingredients
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. cream of tartar
- Food coloring
How to Make PlayDough
The process is easy!
Just mix all together from the above list. Except the food coloring!
Once you have it blended well, choose a color and mix in.
And voila! You have your playdough.