One of the easiest things to make, instead of buy, is play dough. This stuff is great for kids, because it's not just fun to play with - it helps strengthen their hands (something they work on a lot at this age, to get ready for writing), and it provides a lot of sensorial input that some of these guys need. I wanted to give the kids a little extra sensory input, and something new to spark their interest. Enter: beaded play dough!
I assembled my supplies:
Flour, salt, oil, cream of tartar, and food coloring. Not pictured are a pack of seed beads (I used rainbow colored ones), and water.
In a pot, on medium heat, combine: 1 cup water, 1 tbsp oil, and food coloring. I eyeball the coloring. This time I used a generous squirt of turquoise.
In a separate bowl, mix: 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup salt, and 2 tbsp cream of tartar (do not omit this, it is SUPER important!). Put your dry ingredients into the pot & stir it up.
The play dough will quickly come together. When it starts to all stick together & form a ball, take it off of the heat. Dump it out, and knead it a little bit (be careful, it's hot) until it is the right consistency.
At this point, I added my beads. I made a little well in the center, poured in some beads, and kneaded until they were all mixed in. The beads feel really neat in there!
Here's the result:
A close-up of the bead action:
This has been in my classroom for a week so far, and the kids LOVE it! It gets constant use throughout the day. Make sure to store yours in an airtight container, and it should last for quite a while. Want to make it an even greater sensory experience? Add a few drops of essential oil to your wet ingredients, and it will smell great, as well as feel great!