If you have children or work with children, I’m sure there has been a time when you wish they were….ummmm, a bit calmer. Especially at this time of year when children living in colder parts of the world have been cooped up for days (sometimes weeks depending on the harshness of the winter) and the cabin fever is strong. It’s at this point in the winter that parents and caretakers often start to question their sanity, wonder if spring will ever come, and look for ways to engage and stimulate their children. And if you can calm them down a tick or two, well that is just an added bonus! As someone who has taught preschool for 16 years (in a variety of climates), I feel your frustration and offer up one of my secret activities for this time of the year: calming lavender play dough.
Play dough is one of those magical inventions that engages children for a good chunk of time. They see the endless possibilities of it and play dough evokes incredible creativity in children. As a preschool teacher, play dough is one of my favorite activities to offer my students (especially when they need something to help them get engaged). I’ve heard many parents and caretakers also sing the praises of play dough, but are often turned off of this amazing activity by the sheer cost of it. The glorious thing about play dough is that it is so wonderfully easy to make and the homemade play dough is much softer, malleable, and lasts longer (when properly stored) than most of the store bought kinds. My coworkers and I have been making play dough for our students for years and have perfected the absolute best play dough recipe.
However, play dough can be taken a step further and become not only an engaging activity for growing little minds, but also a calming one. By incorporating the calming aromas of lavender into your child’s play dough, you are providing several of your child’s senses the relaxing calming stimulation it needs to mellow out until the snow melts.
Taesha is a mother and teacher in San Diego, California with a passion for healthy living. Through her site,The Natural Nurturer, Taesha aims to inspire parents and caregivers with ideas and easy wholesome recipes and tips for living a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
- 4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 cup salt
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 cup cream of tartar
- 10 tablespoons oil
- 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil
- 1/4 cup dried lavender flower buds
- In a medium sauce pan, mix together the flour, salt, water, cream of tartar, and oil.
- Over low-medium heat and continually stirring, cook the mixture until a ball of play dough is formed and is no longer sticky.
- Remove play dough from sauce pan and transfer to a smooth, clean surface (like a cutting board or smooth counter top). Allow the play dough to cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Once play dough has cooled down a bit, flatten it out a bit with the palm of your hand. Drop the essential oil onto the surface of the play dough. Using your hands, fold the play dough over the spot where you dropped the oils and knead the oil into the dough for a minute or two. Add more oil if you like.
- Once the oil is kneaded into the play dough, sprinkle about half of the dried lavender buds over the play dough and knead that into the play dough with your hands as well (this is a great step to get your kids involved with). Sprinkle the rest of the dried lavender buds into the play dough until the flower buds are evenly distributed throughout the play dough.
- Allow the play dough to finish cooling. Once it is at room temperature, transfer to an air tight container for storage.
- Play dough should last a month (or longer) when stored in air tight container between uses.