We’ve all used play dough as a child, or given it to our own children to play with. That soft squishy dough is perfect for cutting, molding, squishing, rolling, squeezing. There are tons of recipes out there, and of course the store bought version, and all have a very similar very familiar texture (and saltiness!)
I’ve been thinking about the origins of play dough, and other types of dough. There is bread dough, cookie dough, etc. Play dough is obviously not a dough meant to make food. The results would not be delicious were you to cook it. On the other hand, those “food” type doughs each have their own fun squishy textures. Why don’t you ever read about a lump of bread dough as a sensory play material for kids? Or pie crust dough? That would be more mold-able than bread dough.
I recently posted about making “cloud dough” for Lewis. This mixture of flour and oil is quite crumbly but can be somewhat formed or packed into containers. I’ve also heard it called “moon sand” as the texture is a bit like damp beach sand. We played with it twice and he did enjoy squishing it, putting it on his feet, and of course throwing it. But the second time his play was much shorter and I could tell he was getting bored of it. That kid has a short attention span. I didn’t want to just throw it out as it is still “good” but I didn’t really want to store it somewhere for weeks/months either. So I decided to do a little experiment with it. I added 1/4 c water slowly to the dough and mixed it in bit by bit. As I expected it turned out a bit like pie crust dough, but I decided to continue squishing it and mixing it which made it form together more. It was sort of sticky at first but the more I squished it the more firm and smooth it became and less sticky. It also was quite stretchable.
I gave it to Lewis and he had fun squishing and pulling it for a little while.
I wasn’t sure how messy it would be, but it actually wasn’t messy at all. The only “messy” factor was that it was a bit greasy since I made it with the cloud dough which has a lot of oil in it. Our hands and the floor got slightly oily but that was it.
Lewis tried to taste it several times but each time he spat it out and made a face. The play didn’t last super long and his main reaction seemed to be “What do you expect me to do with this? It clearly is not good for eating, so why are you giving me this? I’m going to go find some of my real toys.”
He does have a pretty short attention span sometimes, and is very oral. He’s usually not too interested in just exploring with his hands, but I’m hoping the more sensory play and different materials I continue to introduce to him, the more he will become interested and begin exploring and playing in different ways. I saved the dough in a baggy in the fridge so we can try playing with it again tomorrow, and we can see how different it is when it is cold.