For the last couple of months, we have been developing a new appreciation for play dough. Rolling, cutting, decorating with buttons and beads. And most recently, ginger babies.
Ginger babies started life as ginger bunnies. After seeing an episode of Bing where he makes ginger bunnies for his friends, E started copying. “This one’s for CoCo, this one’s for Charlie…This one’s for Bing…” she said, as she carefully cut them out. Then she added eyes and scrunched them up almost straight away.
This game went on for a while, and time passed. The ginger bunnies slowly started to morph into ginger babies. And now they have begun to take on the characteristics of her friends. I set out the lid of a plastic tub for a baking tray, and now she cuts the ginger babies out and sets them one by one on the baking tray. She carefully adds eyes and buttons, and sometimes other features (pasta bow tie, anyone?)
I’m surprised by how swiftly we have moved from eating play dough to gently touching it without any idea of how to really play with it, to complete and complex role play. Play dough is amazing stuff. It teaches so many things. Hand eye co-ordination, fine motor skills, 1:1 matching, simple sorting, shapes and size, and language acquisition. That’s just scratching the surface. Play dough is amazing stuff, and it’s so easy to make!
I’ve made play dough with this recipe for years. Since I was a newly qualified teacher and getting to grips with the classroom, pretty much. It works really well and is almost fool proof. Stick it in an airtight container and it will last for a good few weeks. I used it the other day to make a batch for a couple of E’s little friends.
(I’ve struggled to find pots of cream of tartar recently, sometimes even in the bigger supermarkets. I’m not sure why, but you can buy little packs where one sachet equals one teaspoon. It’s seems like the most expensive and impractical way to buy something like that just for playdough. But hey ho. Oh, and go for the gel colours if you want lovely vibrant dough. The ones in bottles can be really disappointing.)
2 cups water
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
2 tbsp oil
4 tsp cream of tartar
food colouring and/or flavouring
Swipe a plastic tea cup from the play kitchen and fill a pan with flour and water in equal quantities, and then salt. Bung in the other ingredients. Be generous with colouring and flavourings. E likes orange. Pop pan on a medium/low heat and stir with am old spoon you can wash easily. A wooden spoon will stain, a metal spoon is better. It quickly starts to congeal. Bring the dough together (I find it’s easier to tell if it’s the right consistency by stirring with my hands). Too wet, and it will stick to everything, too dry and it will fall apart. Add more flour if necessary and knead into a pliable dough. Leave to cool.
But not for too long because someone is impatiently waiting to make more ginger babies…