Combining all of these things with the sensory wonder that is playdough was bound to happen in our house sooner or later. I made a quick batch of playdough using a wonderful recipe and gathered some flowers and an old mirror to set up this experience.
I decided to leave the playdough in its natural colour to enhance the flowers, I think they look quite pretty against the white of the dough which makes them stand out and pop with colour.
I then put the playdough on a mirror which made it look very engaging. When playing with the playdough my little boy could see the sky, the clouds, the movements of a tree, it made the experience feel open and inviting.
Mirrors are used a lot in Reggio play and it is something I am just starting to learn about and explore. You can read about the benefits of adding mirrors to the play space in Kate's post about mirrors at An Everyday Story.
When I set up activities like this I like to let my son discover them for himself. So I will put them out where he will see them and let him make his own way over. When you set it up looking beautiful and engaging it doesn't usually take long to spark their curiosity and for them to come over for a closer look.
I love how the mirror gives you another perspective, I would have missed seeing his gorgeous pinky being delicately held out had it not been for the mirror!
I never force my boy to stay with an activity, rather I simply leave it out so that he can crawl away and come back to it as he wishes. He is young and there are many things that peak his curiosity that he wants to explore, especially outside, so often short bursts of play with an activity mixed with other explorations are what happens. Here is has brought a block of wood that he found back to the mirror and carefully placed it on top. This was one of the reflections that held him captive as his little fingers tried to pick up the new block of wood that appeared.
His exploration with playdough is increasing each time we use it. He loves to poke and prod things at the moment so getting his hands deep into the playdough gave him much satisfaction.
At the end of our play the grass was covered in small chunks of playdough. It is good to have a relaxed attitude as to what you expect the experience to look like and to let mess happen without controlling it. Play is messy and play is fun and the freedom to explore often leads to unexpected learning. Learning that is child-led, meaningful and without need for adult direction.
The playdough recipe I used today came from the back of the McKenzie's brand of Cream of Tartar. It was simple enough and I am really pleased with the results. The recipe is:
2 Cups Plain Flour
4 Tbs Cream of Tartar
2 Tbs Cooking Oil
1 Cup Salt
2 Cups Water
(Food Colouring to colour if you choose)
Mix the ingredients in a saucepan, stir over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture congeals.
If you are interested in amazing smelling playdough you can read about a great technique that we used to make chamomile dough in Master R's First Experience With Playdough!