There’s a little nip in the air in the mornings, and that means Autumn is just around the corner! At Play To Learn, we have our favorite play dough recipe is that it is very easy to substitute ingredients (like we did in this Apple Cinnamon dough) to make it into something new. Children love the pumpkin pie scent of the Autumn Harvest play dough in this themed sensory center!
Pumpkin Spice Play Dough Recipe
1 cup flour
½ cup salt
1 cup water
2 TBS oil
Orange Food Coloring, as desired
In a medium saucepan: mix together flour, cream of tartar, spice and salt. Gradually add water, oil and food coloring. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until dough pulls away from the pan sides. Remove from heat. Put on the kitchen counter and knead until smooth.
The Benefits of Play Dough Centers
The squishy resistance of play dough makes it a natural material for exploration and investigation. Students love to manipulate, squash, squeeze, roll, flatten, chop, cut, poke, tear, and build with it. Each action builds up hand strength that children will need for pencil and scissor control.
As you add other elements to your play dough center, the list of benefits and creative play possibilities continues to grow!
Set Up an Autumn Harvest Play Dough Center
The first thing children notice about this dough is the enticing aroma. However, adding other fall items can add to the educational value as well as make it even more irresistible. Try adding some of these items:
- Dried “Indian” corn
- Acorns and Acorn Tops
- Pine Cones
- Mini Pumpkins, squash and gourds
- Fall leaves
Fall leaves are especially nice for extending the learning. If real leaves are not available, you can substitute silk leaves from the local dollar store floral section. Encourage the children to make prints with the leaves. Compare these dough prints to leaf rubbings. What is the same? What is different? Nature has an amazing way of keep our children’s attention and focus.
Encourage your children to roll the materials in the dough and make prints. They can explore all of the different ways that the acorns can make impressions. Try pressing the lid in to make circles. Turn it over and see what it looks like upside down.
Trick or Treat!
When you need a non-sugary “treat” to give out on Halloween, what could be better than their very own dough to take home and work with? Children love to receive this play dough as a gift. Start by making a double batch – one for your classroom and one for gifts. Then roll some into individual balls and place inside a gift bag or plastic bag. Finally, attach one of these “Autumn Harvest Play Dough” gift tags and maybe some small add ins such as acorns, toy spiders, even jack-o-lantern shapes cut from play foam. All treat, no trick!
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