Wednesday, October 2, 2013

our autumn play dough

I work in a school that is both play-based and literature-based. Each week features one title and each month we focus on a nursery rhyme. This month's nursery-rhyme (um...I mean last month's) was I Had a Little Nut Tree. We introduce the rhyme and practice reciting it out loud to introduce the idea of recitation to our younger children as recitation is a large component of our school in the older grades. My children or new threes and so often-times the recitation part does to happen but that's okay. We still sing songs, read books, and engage in activities to reinforce our rhymes.
To give the children a tactile experience while we recite our rhyme, I made a batch of silver & gold play dough that is richly scented in cinnamon and nutmeg. The golden color comes from the spices and the silver sparkle from a hefty dose of glitter.
When I introduced the dough to my class. I sang the nursery rhyme and spoke of the golden color of the dough and the rich scent of nutmeg mixed with cinnamon. I asked if they could see the sparkle and to guess what color it was. After many guesses of white and gold I showed them the bottle of glitter and called it silver.  The children enjoyed rolling the dough and smelling the dough and holding it up for me to smell as well. They even called it our nut-dough.
There is no shortage of spicy dough recipes out there in pinterest-land but here is what I used, adapted from Mudworks by MaryAnn F. Kohl. If you have an opportunity to purchase this book,  I highly recommend it as it is fuller than full of all sorts of homemade tactile experiences.

Cinnamon and Spice Dough

*1 cup all purpose flour
*1 cup water
*1/2 cup salt
*2 tablespoons cream of tartar
*2 tablespoon cinnamon
*1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
*2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
*2 tablespoons silver and/or gold glitter

Add all ingredients except glitter into medium-sized saucepan and mix. Turn heat to low and stir mixture. Continue stirring as mixture will thicken a bit like a pudding. As it heats up, mixture will thicken up more and begin to pull away from the sides of the pan resembling mashed potatoes.

Once the mixture has pulled away completely from sides of pan and formed a clump in the center, remove from heat and dump onto a cutting board or other heat-happy surface. Mixture will be hot, do not allow children to knead until the dough is much cooler to the touch.
Once mixture has cooled enough for you to handle, begin to knead by pushing dough in cneter then turning edges inwards and push some more. Use rocking motions with your hands as you push and turn and push and turn. Dough will be a bit grainy. Keep kneading.

After your first round of kneading and after the dough has cooled enough for small hands to handle, dump glitter into center and continue to knead to incorporate. Glitter will stick more to the dough than your hands as long as you keep kneading it (yay for sticky oily mixtures).

After you have mixed in the glitter, the dough should begin to lose its graininess and smooth out. If dough is still too sticky and "wet" add more flour or return to heat and try cooking a bit more. If dough is too dry, add a little more oil. If you follow the measurements above, the dough should come out perfectly. This is a favorite recipe to use in many centers.
Your dough should now be smooth in texture and spicy in color. If you wish your dough to have a richer color, add more cinnamon. It is okay to add more spice after the dough has been made. The more you handle it, the smoother it will become.

If you have no cream of tartar, don't worry. You can still make the dough but it will not last as long and the elasticity will not be a smooth. This dough will last for weeks stored in an airtight container in your fridge or a cool space.
I put the dough out on the table with an assortment of fall-themed cookie cutters, some rolling pins and a few acrylic fall leaves found at the dollar store. There were also pom-poms nearby that got incorporated into the mix and of course whatever else the children decided to round up from various areas of the classroom.

1 comment:

  1. This looks like a fun and sweet smelling dough. Perfect for a fall project. We made some dough recently with jello but I must this seems so much more amazing. Smells really do help keep kiddos engaged. Thanks for sharing. Nicole Lindstrom