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Lavender Scented No Cook Play Dough

The kids at WKC love to use play dough with additions from the garden to make a scented sensory experience! Not only do they get the calming and relaxing experience of using their hands to work the dough and create, they also have the smells of essential oils and plants they've grown wafting around them, and the textures and colours of natural materials to work with.

In our younger children play dough represents an opportunity to practice fine motor skills and develop the muscles and tendons in their hands, which become vitally important as they progress through school and later in life. Play dough provides a wide range of opportunities for the use of tactile skills; it can be squashed, squeezed, rolled, flattened, chopped, cut, scored, raked, punctured, poked and shredded! The addition of other materials and sensory experiences only adds to the possibilities.

As play dough and the other additional materials are open-ended in nature, and do not prescribe the outcomes in which they are used, they facilitate imaginative play where the children can conceptualise how and why their play is occuring. They could be baking delicious smelling cakes or biscuits, or growing their own miniature garden, as some of the children did this week. This intrinsic and child-directed play is highly beneficial and builds independence, self-esteem, creativity and skills such as investigation and problem solving.

The act of making the play dough when children are participants adds to their repertoire of skills and builds their proficiency in a variety of areas including mathematics (measuring, fractions), science (chemical reactivity, material characteristics, scientific method) and cooking (following a recipe, ingredient consistencies, mixing, kneading).

We love to see all of these benefits in action, so we thought we'd share the recipe for you to use at home!

You need:

  • 2 cups plain flour

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1/2 cup salt

  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar

  • Up to 1.5 cups boiling water (adding in increments until it feels just right)

  • Food colouring (optional)

  • Aromatic natural materials (lavender, rosemary, mint, basil) (optional)

  • A few drops of essential oils to match (optional)


1. ​Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl

2. Add food colouring to the boiling water then into the dry ingredients (colour optional)

3. Stir continuously until it becomes a sticky, combined dough

4. Allow it to cool down then take it out of the bowl and knead it vigorously for a couple of minutes until all of the stickiness has gone. (This is the most important part of the process, so keep at it until it’s the perfect consistency!)

5. (If it remains a little sticky then add a touch more flour until just right.)

6. Add additional aromatic materials and a few drops of essential oils.​

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