Summer Fun: Play Dough Testing and Scientific Observation
If you have ever wondered what colouring play dough with jello would feel like? Or worried that you can’t give your bigger kid play dough because your toddler keeps putting it in her mouth then I have the perfect recipe for you!
It is back to our summer routine these days. After a month of hardly any crafts, we are trying to get in some fun for the remaining of our holidays.
We are testing play dough recipes from around the web!
Yes, you read that right, testing it to see what the different kinds we can make at home and what each one feels like.
This is the first time that we are making play dough at home. We just didn’t know it was this easy! If you have never tried making your own play dough, I highly recommend that you do because it is cheaper, safer and non toxic, and oh-so-fun!!
I have started a brand new board on Pinterest where I pin all sorts of play dough recipes. Do follow because I keep adding newer ones.
Let’s get to the testing. Since this is the first time, we had to start somewhere… some recipe… any recipe, actually. They all looked easy but we had so much choice. I decided to hand the tablet to my six year old son. He chose, Jello play dough.
I have a six year old, a two year old and a eight month old. That means a Primary schooler, a toddler and a baby. Any activity that I do, has to involve all three of them together. Normal play dough is not safe for my toddler because she doesn’t understand that it isn’t safe for her to eat it. I remind her while playing and have instructed my son to keep an eye on her sisters if I am not looking but I can’t rely on a six year old, can I? So we always try to make sure that all our crafts and toys are the kind that all three can play with. The baby is really small but I do let her sit in my lap and squish things up once in a while… It can be a great sensory activity, you know?
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I found the Jello Play dough recipe here but they use unflavoured jello which needs to be coloured with either food colours or paint. Colouring again with food colour didn’t appeal to me. Knowing my son’s temperament, I wanted something quick and one time effort. So we decided to test it out with flavoured Jello. You can try Raspberry and Strawberry for red. Blueberry, Lemon/lime, Pineapple, etc for the other colours. Or you can make your own colours mixing them together too.
My son grew up playing with playing dough and at age six, I was sure he’d see nothing new with a home-made version of it. So in order to make it a little bit appropriate for him, I decided to turn it into a science experiment! It was fun when he helped me in making the dough but we went a step further and he got to practice his scientific reasoning and observation. (I am sorry we don’t have any fun photos of him doing this the day before… I was so excited myself!)
Play Dough to Practice Scientific Reasoning and Observation
Children should always be encouraged to ask questions. Why something happens? How it happens? What if we did this or that? I know most 4-6 year old ask a lot of questions already but most of the time we neglect those questions, tire off them or just don’t give them the answer that ignites, satisfies or increases their curiosity. If you have one little pre-schooler, asking 200 questions a day, may be you will find time but when there are four more kids of every year under that age, it becomes a bit too many questions. I know. I have been there. But they will only be this age this for sometime. It is how we treat them now that will make them have that inquisitive, curious nature for life. Our answers may make them ‘life-long learners‘! There are various ways to increase curiosity and answering their questions, is just one of them.
Some children, don’t ask that many questions. I have come across a few myself and it really makes me feel sad when that happens because children should ask questions. That is what makes them kids! I wonder if you can understand what I mean but.. well.
So how can we help them in asking more questions? By asking them questions ourselves, ofcourse. Helping them to find answers themselves actually. I love it when my son comes up with really imaginative answers.
My approach has always been to answer his question with a little fact and then ask a question myself. My question will be like an example to for his question. How do aeroplanes fly? They use fuel that runs their engines. Do you know how cars work? Like that. Cars have engines that work tires. Planes have engines that work their propellers on the wings. How about ships… do they have engines? What do you think?
He tells me his answer, we discuss it and then I ask him if they are the ones that make the ship float.
See, from fuel to transportation to buoyancy. We have a lot … and it all started from just one question! (Yes, now you know why my child talks too much!)
Coming back to the topic of playing with dough… How did we use Scientific observation while making Play Dough. I asked him if he would want to volunteer to test out the different play dough recipes that I have on my Pinterest board. He agreed. We made the play dough together and then I gave him a questionnaire.
My son loves questionnaires and forms. It makes him feel so grown up and so much in control. He just loves ticking and filling them up. If I give him a simple ‘Volunteer’ Badge with it… Perfect! We feel so empowered and I have made him feel so special!
The plan was that I would let him make the dough with me and then I would hand him the sheets. While he was busy, I would play with my little girls.
Here is a sample of what kind of questions to ask:
You can save and print here through Google docs too. You can make your own if you like too. Do improvise on the idea. Remember the idea is to have fun. 🙂
Here is a ‘Volunteer’ Printable for your child. Just right click, save and print. Punch holes and pin it on to the shirt. 🙂
This dough is made using jello. The original recipe is found here and as you can see it calls for plain jello or gelatin which is later coloured. We didn’t have the patience for the colouring but we were curious to find out what the flavoured ones would look and feel like. I particularly wanted to know what all that sugar in there would do the texture and feel of that dough.
We chose strawberry jello. The original recipe has been modified here a bit to make it faster to cook too. Here is how we did it.
Recipe for Jell Play dough
Flour -1cup + half a cup more for kneading
Tartaric acid -2tbsp
Jello- 89gms ( any flavour)
Water- 1 cup
Mix everything together and pour into a large non stick pot. We used a very large one because I wanted it to be easy to stir. (Don’t use a wooden spatula! It will stain.) Keep the heat low and keep stirring till it starts to thicken. It will get clumpy at first. Don’t worry just keep stirring till it comes together as a big ball. It took us less than 10 minutes.
Pour out on to wax paper or a ceramic tray and let it cool a bit. Add a tablespoon of flour and keep kneading till it stops sticking to your fingers and feels soft and silky. Done.
Pros: No need for colours. Smells great. Bright colours. Edible. Fun.
My children love it. Lil’ One (my toddler) is a little shy kind and we have trouble with her trying new things but she thoroughly enjoyed it! She kept rolling it out, spreading it with her fingers too. Then she would try to stamp the cutters on to them… she is yet to understand that she needs to press hard for them to make shapes. She pushed it through the dough tube too. But best of all was that she loved tearing the dough and was amazed that it tore.
Our 8 month old baby loves it too. She has learnt to recognise it as something fun. If the children bring it to the floor near her Tummy-Time area, she will pre-crawl to them so fast! It is so funny because then the other two will pick their things up and flee the scene to another room or higher up on some table or the bed.
That is another thing I noticed … this dough doesn’t transfer colours. If it sticks, just leave it for a couple of hours, it will dry and then you can scrape it off. Alternatively, you can throw it in the washer. We have had kids put it on the sheets, on the rugs and rubbed into their pajamas. We are okay.
Our verdict on this dough? 5 out of 5!
We’ve been trying other things the past two days so haven’t done another dough this week. It is healthier to try one a week, I guess. We already have another one planned for the coming Monday. In the meanwhile, if you are trying another and coming back to tell us about it, here is my Pinterest board on Play Dough for ideas. I keep adding new ones so do follow me. 🙂
This play dough sounds great, and I love how you turned it into a scientific investigation!
Great! Thanks for sharing your experience. This is next on my list of things to make.