Little K has started using playdough differently lately. Instead of burying tools and vehicles, he’s started to competently roll the dough out and makes prints with tools. I wanted to set up a provocation for him while we were stuck in the house due to sick family members.
Inspired by the “After Christmas Tree,” the kids and I roll out a large slab of peppermint scented, green playdough. I cut it into a tree shape and add lots of small recycled caps to press into and decorate the tree.
We use our favorite play dough recipe and add peppermint extract. The boys press the caps into the dough, making prints, followed by carving out the shapes to create negative space. With the chunks of dough they pull out, they build other things. Little K makes Angels and Little J makes a sun.
This is the second post in the after school cool down series. This is my attempt to find some great child driven and process focused activities to help the kids transition back into the home after school…instead of us all running around manically screaming, grabbing, pushing, teasing and melting down.
I have a great collection of caps, saved from milk jugs, water and juice bottles, and fruit sauce crushers. We’ve just made playdough with my favorite playdough recipe, and I think, how cool to combine the two. We’ve never done that before.
I flatten two colors on the table to make a very large slab. I put some of the caps in a pretty box and set some rolling pins on the side. I leave this at the table for the kids to discover.
Playdough is always a nice option for calming free play. Making the dough, manipulating the dough with the small muscles in hands, playing pretend food or roads with playdough and adding objects to the table, like cars, kitchen tools or recycled materials.
My predition: The kids will asthetically arrange the plastic objects around the slab and make up stories while they work.
What happens: They use the caps like cookie cutters and stamp out shapes collecting the pieces on the side.
I want to make some play dough for the kids. The black play dough roads have been played out. When I ask the kids to pick a color, they say rainbow. I make red, green and blue. We use my favorite favorite favorite play dough recipe from Pink and Green Mama this February break:
1 Cup of Flour
1/2 Cup of Salt
3 teaspoons. of Oil
1 Small Package of Kool Aid
1 Cup of Boiling Water
Mix the dry ingredients. Then, Add Oil and Boiling Water. Stir well then, knead on a piece of waxed paper. (It will be hot for a couple of minutes.) Store in the fridge in a container.
This is how I set it up for them to find when they’re done with a little show.
The kids dig in using some traditional play dough tools, like mini rolling pins, scrapers, things to poke. It doesn’t take long before the 3 separate balls of color are mixed up, all except for Friend H, the oldest and the only girl. The boys’ play dough looks like tie dye.
Friend H keeps her colors separate and builds a road.
I find some black play dough on sale on a clearance shelf and buy it to build roads, which is the fasted way to my boys’ hearts. It keeps their minds and hands busy so I can tackle a load of laundry or a sink full of dishes.
~Inspired by sassysanity’s linseed filled black and yellow play dough roads.
“Those are rumble strips, they make a loud noise that wake you up if you’re sleeping in the car.
That’s a rumble strip that will explode you to England.
Are you okay, yeah.
Whee Whoo Whee Whoo
Look, the road is broken right here. It sploded in half.
The super hero that fixes roads his here. Don’t worry.
Something crashed him and he tipped over.
I didn’t make him fall over…I wonder what.
The explosion maker did it, bad guys make the explosion.
That put you in the dungeon, don’t do that.
That was scary.
They’re flipping around. They went to England and they’re slipping around when they weren’t looking.
He made the road so bad it split in half, he made a huge humungous mess.
A truck is getting chased by a huge boulder that’s making the road move and crush up.
Look at the police officer. He needs to get the police officer out, he needs everyone’s help.
Everyone can get stuck and the road can fold up like that. Everyone has to jump over the road now.
I’m stuck in the mud…help me!
Don’t worry, this car has a special power to break play dough.
Okay, do the best you can.”
K’s little playgroup met at Old Sturbridge Village this past Thursday and we stopped at the potter shed where a man was making mugs. He generously offered all the children in our group a small ball of clay to take home. This reminded me that we had a whole process table full of clay in the studio. We started to reconstitute dry clay this winter and now it’s seems moist enough and ready to use. If you’d like some clay, the best place to get it around here in MA is Amherst Pottery Supply. A huge bag of clay should run you about $10, at least that’s what it cost when we bought our bag 3 years ago.
My playgroup friends ask how they should go about introducing clay to their young children, and this is what I suggest:
Let the kids explore the clay for the first time with no tools, bells or whistles. Little hands make the best first tools. Shape 3 lumps of clay into balls and leave them in the middle of a reachable table for the kids to discover. Use this VOCAB when playing: Pat, push, poke, pull, squeeze, pinch, roll, and whatever other actions you can think of to do with the clay.
The next visit, we might have some other tools, sticks, rocks, shells, Popsicle sticks or toothpicks. I might shape the clay differently…a huge coil, snake shape.
The third time I might put small balls of clay out, or one big hunk with holes poked in, set some water next to the clay, with a spray bottle or a paintbrush and cup of water. When you get clay wet, it gets very messy very quickly so be prepared. To store the clay, airtight container, wrapped in a wet towel, checking on it once in a while to make sure it’s not drying out.
K and I go into the Studio the night of our Old Sturbridge Village clay adventure, and I open the process table. He sticks his hands in to his elbows. He takes huge chunks of clay and plops into the open bin on the floor next to the table. He discovers some Popsicle sticks and toothpicks and throws them in for good measure, singing happy birthday when he realizes he can stand them up like candles. Then he sprays the clay with a water bottle found in the sink when washing hands, but the water bottle is too hard to squeeze for his little hands, so he says he’s all done.
Resources: Children, Clay and Sculpture by Cathy Weisman Topal
Rapunzel’s Supermarker by Ursula Kolbe