Clubhouse Play Doh, Pumpkin Edition

First, I should definitely apologize for the absolute lack of blogging from the Clubhouse. It has been a very busy time, as I'm sure you all understand. I promise I'll get better though. So many activities to share, I will do my best to get it all on here in a timely fashion. Now on to the show...

A fresh batch of Play Dough (a.k.a. Play Doh) gets whipped up here at the Clubhouse every month. The Holiday months are most fun though, when the Play Doh takes on the scents and colors of the Season.

We start with the same basic recipe every time. The recipe is simple, as it should be when working with 2-4 year old children. There is no cooking and no wait time, because seriously, how many Preschoolers do you know who like to wait?
2 Cups Flour
First, 2 Cups of Flour. Letting the kids measure out their ingredients is part of the fun. With all of the ingredients out on the table we discuss. Which one is the Flour? What color is it? What does it feel like? As they are pouring the flour into their big mixing pots we discuss how it is the First ingredient, and First and Flour both start with the same letter, don't they? Which letter is that? Conversation continues as we check the recipe for the Second ingredient, Salt.
1 Cup Salt

The Salt and the Flour are the same Color, aren't they? Do they feel the same though? What's the difference? 
How about Smell? 

As with anything with Preschoolers, learning happens when the child is actively engaged and doesn't even realize he/she is learning at all. At this point we've already done some letter recognition, we've started an order sequence, we've covered a couple of senses as we look, touch, smell and yes, even taste. A little dash of Salt on the tongue, a little taste of Flour after that. Do they taste the same? What's the difference? Does any of this look like Play Doh yet?

We had better move on to the next ingredient then, because the key is in following the recipe, just like following instructions, isn't it? (Always nice to be able to throw in a little lesson on following instructions whenever you can, and not just when instructions are not being followed.)

A large, displayed recipe assists with this part. Easily referenced the kids understand what to do next.

1 Cup Water
Would be nice if the third ingredient started with the letter T and we could continue our little alliteration game, but it doesn't. What letter does it start with? How much of it do we need? Is this ingredient the same as the first 2? How is it different? Again, asking a lot of questions throughout the process and allowing the children to answer is often a better teaching tool than simply stating what they are doing and why. It also makes being the Teacher so much more fun, especially when you hear answers like "The flour is fluffy, but the water is wet." "The salt is like little rocks, the flour is like powder and the water is like slime!" Amazing where young minds draw their comparisons from. Now, on to the next ingredient. Yes, we talk about the letter it begins with again... and this time we introduce a new measuring tool. No longer a cup do we need, but a tablespoon. Does the tablespoon hold more or less than the cup did? That's why we measure, right? What if we put in 1 cup instead of 1 tablespoon, what do you think would happen? (Yes, there is the occasional time a student says "Lets try it!", and so we do. Another teaching tool, letting them make the mistake so they can see what happens when they don't follow a recipe/ instructions.)

1 Tablespoon Oil
Now, the fun part!! This Play Doh was supposed to be Pumpkin Play Doh, wasn't it? Does it smell like Pumpkin yet? Is it the color of a Pumpkin yet? We've got some work to do...

3 drops of each color     
Having Orange food coloring out would be too easy, so instead we have out a variety of colors and we figure out together which 2 colors, once mixed together, will make our creation Orange? How many drops of each color do we use? The recipe says 3, and at this point we know how important it is to follow the recipe! We mix some colors around on the side until we make Orange, and once we realize Yellow and Red do the trick, we add them to the mixing pot. Sometimes it's a tough squeeze, as you can see from my little guy in the picture. Doing it all on their own is part of the process though! Now we start up a little math lesson, because if the recipe says 3 drops of each color, and we have two colors, how many drops are we going to put in total? A lot of out loud counting takes place here, usually on little fingers. Who needs a calculator, aren't fingers the best way to complete a Math problem?

Sprinkle "Special Seasonings"
Now it's time for the sprinkling of "Special Seasonings". In this batch, we're going for Pumpkin.. so now it's time to put those little noses to use! Yes, I have Pumpkin Pie Spice out on the table, along with Cinnamon, Nutmeg and All Spice. There's also Pepper, Garlic powder and Dried Basil. Which of these smell like you would put them into Pumpkin Pie? Immediately the Pepper, Garlic and Basil are eliminated. Even the youngest chef knows that those ingredients do not belong in a Pumpkin Pie. The nose is a powerful sense, especially when you're 3 years old and not afraid to use it!

Time for mixing!! We have a variety of utensils we use for this, but inevitably little hands want to get in there and do the work. Hey, I said this was a simple process, I never said it wasn't a messy one. At this age learning is supposed to be hands on, messy and a lot of fun! Besides, I have been known to make some pretty big messes with all of these very same ingredients, I just call it cooking.

As the mixing continues, so does the conversation. What's happening as we mix it? What does it feel like? Work those little hands!!

Sometimes at this point, the kids are so focused, elbow deep in their concoctions, that I simply watch... and listen to the grunting that is apparently required when you're properly kneading dough. Then suddenly, VOILA...!
Perfect batch of Pumpkin Play Doh, and a very happy Preschooler. Makes a pretty big batch, doesn't it? Changing this recipe to make it something new is easy. Change up the "Special Seasonings" with just about anything you have in your spice collection. Change the color. Alter the recipe amounts accordingly so that everyone is making smaller batches, and then let them simply pick what they want theirs to look and smell like. Purple Play Doh that smells like Garlic? Um, sure.. why not? The point is, they are learning, they are engaged, and they create something that we actually get to play with!

 Squishing, rolling, making balls, worms, pancakes and towers. The fun from here is endless. Well, as endless as a Preschool attention span allows. Add rolling pins, cookie cutters, etc.. and watch their imaginations bring the Play Doh to life!

When they move on to their next activity, place their Play Doh in a sealed Tupperware type container and it will be ready to play with again and again. If it gets a little "sticky" as time goes by, simply roll it around in a little flour. We've been using our batch all month. As a matter of fact, it's just about time for December's batches.. Cinnamon Play Doh and Pine Tree Play Doh. Play Doh making is always anticipated around the Clubhouse, for both teacher and students. Hopefully you can enjoy this simple recipe at home and come up with a few concoctions all your own. I guarantee you'll come up with something not available in stores, and your kids will love it!!

Simple Play Dough
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Cup Salt
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Oil
  • Color/s of your choice 
  • Sprinkle of your selected "Special Seasonings"
Let little hands mix it all together, and Enjoy!!