Combine Art, Manners, Kids for Magic – #7 Magic for Preschool – Kindergarten

If you need a formula for magic, combine art, manners, kids and imagination. This month, people who work with kids are sharing  their wishes for programs like preschool and kindergarten. Both moms, Nicolle and Catherine, wanted more hands-on activities and Nicolle had a suggestion. Not just play dough, how about a clay station?play with clay

The word clay reminded me of a friend Terri Hardin, a Disney sculptor. In her book, she writes she was “Constantly creating and always in motion….” Doesn’t that sound like kids too? Always on the go with minds thinking and bodies making. Even when kids are taking things apart, they are still creating.

Terri also wrote about why clay was so appealing to her. We live in a 3-d world. Sculpting is creating in 3-d while drawing is trying to squeeze three dimensions onto a 2-d paper. There are other differences too. While both use imaginations, clay is far more sensory for hands than paper, paints, and crayons. Kids can really dig their hands into clay. No wonder a clay station is a wish for children’s care programs and school.


In an e-mail from Terri she is sharing her latest project, a show for kids that combines art, manners, kids, and imagination in both 2-d and 3-d. Some 2 dimensional characters, Dabbler and Bump, explore manners along with the host Mifren who “will draw, sculpt, paint and glue, do origami and pumpkin sculpt, carve ice, or do just about anything, to show kids all the different ways they can express themselves besides just talking.” Using a magic art easel, they travel into the 3-d world of out-going teen Buddy. Here is a link to the KickStarter campaign now until there is a website:


Often on this blog, I’ve written about the critical importance of social skills for children’s development. The goal of the show is something we all want, “If we teach appropriate behavior and social tolerance during these years, we can create a safer social and school environment.” This is surely something we all want. Isn’t it wonderful to have a wish that can come true?


Kids Valentine Play Dough Fun is Hands-on Learning and Play

Part of the appeal of any holiday is doing some things again every year so, for a play-of-the-day, how about some kids valentine play dough fun? It’s hands-on and hands-in.

valentine slime

Although available in stores, play dough and it’s cousin slime or goop are easy to make at home and very inexpensive. Here are some instructions posted previously:

  • To make slime, first mix 1/2 cup of warm water and 1/2 cup of white glue. We popped several cinnamon candy hearts into the warm water and waited for them to turn the water a lovely red. Most of the hearts melted leaving only a little bit of the candy center to take out. When we added the glue, the red water became light pink.

  • In a second bowl,  mix 1 teaspoon of borax and 1 whole cup of warm water. Get ready for the next part, which changes very fast! Now, pour the gluey stuff into the clear water/borax and stir. Right away, the two solutions combine to make a polymer. There will likely be some extra water in the bowl which you can just pour off, leaving the wonderful goo.

As kids play with slime and playdough, they are developing:

  • fine motor dexterity and strength, and hand-eye coordination,
  • the ability to visualize, that is making pictures or images in the mind,
  • language skills, such as vocabulary and descriptive language to talk about what’s happening,
  • some basic math strategies like measuring and counting,
  • their senses, especially the sense of touch as they learn to discriminate texture, temperature, and size,
  • higher level thinking skills, such as planning, problem-solving, imagining and creating.

playdough learning and funChildren are using more than their hands to play. They are also expressing themselves and how they feel. Playdough or slime can help children release pent-up emotions and tensions. The world isn’t always a friendly place for kids, and with these materials, they can feel more in control. Slime adds an unexpected element, because it’s so much more flexible. Even though this can be a little bit frustrating, it’s also exciting. Kids soon learn that cookie cutters will not work with slime, like they do with playdough.

Play dough activities can happen at any time of the year, not just for special events and holidays. They appeal to kids of various ages and interests. Not all kids will want to make valentines, flowers, or hearts; some like to make dinosaurs and volcanoes. Kids get to create whatever they want to suit their needs and ideas. Can some kids valentine play dough fun be part of the action?

Dinovember Dragon Activities: Play Dough Dragons and Treasure

Since dragons are imaginary creatures—as far as we know, kids can create any kind of play dough dragons and play treasure with them too. Fiery breath is optional.

play dough dragons

Play dough is available pre-made and is reasonably priced. There are several different recipes for homemade play dough using basic ingredients that you likely already have at home. It’s simple and really inexpensive. (Here are directions for making a batch.) Plasticine is another possibility.

Earlier this month, we read lots of books about dragons. The kids also made up some of their own stories. There are a few children’s tv shows and movies about dragons. For the most part, dragons are big, look similar to a dinosaur, and have wings. After that, anything dough dragon treasure

Since the kids play with play dough often, we usually have a batch or two ready to go in the fridge. The only adult intervention was suggesting making some play dough dragons or burying some dragon treasure. The kids liked the idea and directed their own play. Little Sister mostly just liked burying and finding treasure in the play dough. We had some small colored rocks, plastic spheres, and a clear plastic heart that were easy to clean off later.

Play dough isn’t messy but it is still sensory. Besides the texture of the play dough, kids feel all the different shapes and designs they create. Big pieces of play dough have a heavier weight than smaller ones. Their sense of touch helps them make smooth parts and bumpy ones on their dragons. There’s lots of stimulation for seeing with color, shapes, designs, and sizes. The same goes for hearing as kids slap, tap, pound, squish, and more.  Hopefully, kids aren’t tasting it, but there might be some smell. For our homemade batches, we often add a drop or two of peppermint or lavender.

play dough dragon fun

Just think of all the time and effort it took an adult to make these dragons. Kids aren’t the only ones that like play dough dragons. The small or fine muscles in the body are very active in the squeezing, rolling, squishing, pinching, and whatever else kids need to do to shape their dragons. Brains are busy too organizing, solving problems, imagining, figuring out, and thinking. Creating combines both the thinking and the actions. Could making play dough dragons and playing with treasure spark your child’s play?

Halloween Play Dough Fun For Little Ones – What a Treat!

While witches stir their potions and brews, you can easily stir up some Halloween play dough fun for your little ones with some from the store or home. There are dozens and dozens of recipes for different play dough variations available on-line. This one uses boiling water but I have a couple of tricks for … Continue reading Halloween Play Dough Fun For Little Ones – What a Treat!

Olympic Games #13 – Olympic Playdough Activities

If there were Olympic medals for the performance of toys, playdough would be a winner. Let’s go for the gold with some Olympic playdough activities. Playdough comes in all colors of the rainbow but not exactly gold, silver, and bronze. Those colors are found in the pot at the end of the rainbow. However, kids … Continue reading Olympic Games #13 – Olympic Playdough Activities

#8 Space PlayDough Activities – Play Dough Aliens and Planets

Today’s space playdough activities are inspired by the journey of the probe Juno to the giant planet Jupiter. Will Juno discover any aliens? What else is on Jupiter? Kids can make their own aliens and planets with play dough. For some hands-on fun, play dough is a remarkable and inexpensive toy. Either purchased at a … Continue reading #8 Space PlayDough Activities – Play Dough Aliens and Planets

Star Wars Play Dough Activity

Star Wars is still pretty exciting so for a play-of-the-dough, er… I mean, play-of-the-day, here is a Star Wars play dough activity. Many kids have collections and some adults too. The rocks, seashells, cars, and stickers of children’s collections can transform into coins, books, antiques, matchbook covers, records, stamps, bottles, and more. Really, there are … Continue reading Star Wars Play Dough Activity