Any chef can tell you that learning new things and trying things out in the kitchen usually requires an important ingredient: a bit of mess. This simple recipe for homemade play dough is no exception!
The Dirt Required blog posts share fun activities from around the world that will help your child express themselves and develop self-confidence. Experiencing messy play activities from different countries is not only beneficial for child development but also enriches their understanding of other cultures. There are several blogs in this series that tell the story of messy play activities so make sure you take a look at them all on the Dirt is Good page.
What is cloud dough?
Cloud dough is an easy to-make messy play activity for the kitchen or play area, sent to us all the way from Chile. Made from household ingredients, it’s a brilliantly fluffy and light type of homemade play dough that can be used to create lots of different shapes and structures that then crumbles back down to powder again. It can be coloured or scented to make it even more of a sensory experience at play time.
There’s lots to learn through making cloud dough
This cloud dough recipe is a great activity for kids between 3 and 7 years old (with adult supervision). By following the 'recipe', your little one will begin to understand the importance of following instructions in order to get a fantastic end result – a great skill for all areas of life! Making cloud dough and playing with it is a really sensory experience. They will have hours of fun working their hands through the dough, strengthening the tiny muscles in their hands needed for good pencil and scissor control without even knowing it! But there’s also some planning and measuring to be done in the making of the play dough so there’s plenty for your little one to be learning with this activity.
Cloud dough ingredients:
The most important ingredient is their own imagination and your permission to get up to their elbows in flour. Your child will enjoy the cloud dough lots more if they are able to go for it during playtime without worrying about making a bit of mess. You need:
- A big mixing bowl or container
- 4 cups of flour
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- Zest of 2 oranges
- A sprinkle of cinnamon
The basic ratio is eight parts flour, one part oil so don’t worry if you don’t have measuring cups. Just use the ratio to get the right consistency. (This is a good maths puzzle for older children.) You’ll probably also find it helpful to have:
- A space to play where mess isn’t too much of a problem
- Shapes and utensils to shape the dough once it’s made – ice cream scoops and cake moulds are always fun
- A big plastic bag to store the cloud dough in the fridge for another day
- Food colouring or non-toxic coloured powder
How to make this simple play dough
First a bit of planning and mixing.
- You can help your child develop measuring skills by asking them to measure out the flour and oil first
- Ask them to find shapes and utensils in the kitchen to play with once the cloud dough is made
Now for some messy play.
- Combine the flour and oil in a big mixing bowl
- Use a spoon if it’s easier to start with – or just encourage your child to get hands on and mix the two together with their hands
- Now get your child to experiment with the dough, asking them lots of questions, like what it feels like or what happens when they squeeze it in their hands
To make it an extra sensory experience, add some orange zest and cinnamon to the cloud dough mixture or even food colouring. You’ll know the job is finished when the dough forms shapes easily when pressed into moulds; your child has got floury hands and can tell you all about measuring out the right quantities when making something.
Don’t worry too much if you notice a few grease stains on your child’s clothes, it’s not too hard to get them out of clothes. Apply a drop of OMO Ultimate Liquid directly on to the stain and rub gently. Then wash on the hottest temperature the fabric will allow. Just check the label for care details of the stained garment before cleaning the stain. There are lots more stain removal tips here.