Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Endless Obsession

My son has an ongoing passion, verging on obsession - play dough.

This is my son

This is my son on play dough

I thought the novelty would wear off quickly, but we are going on months now where almost every waking moment, the child must have a sticky, malleable ball of this stuff in hand. "What does he do with it?", someone asked me recently. Well, let's see..... He puts it in/under things, takes it out of/above things. Makes "pancakes" and button-playdough stews. He rolls it into little balls that he stashes in cups or boxes and covers with blankets ("The play dough is tired. It needs a nap. Sshhhhh, don't wake 'em up!" Snoring sounds then ensue). Generally I'm pretty amused and thrilled by this, although I have to admit, I have a list of pros and cons about the subject:

The Cons:
  1. Supply can barely keep up with demand
  2. Multi-colored play-dough confetti distributed throughout every inch of our house.
  3. This stuff is lethal when it dries! Last week I knelt down to pick a book up off the floor and a dried shard of play-dough inserted itself firmly underneath my fingernail leading to a bit of consternation (ok fine, a few expletives)
The Pros:
  1. Cheap if I'm feeling lazy
  2. Even cheaper if I go the non-lazy route and make it myself
  3. Versatile which means endless "scope for the imagination" (as Anne Shirley would say)
  4. HE NEVER GETS SICK OF THIS STUFF!! If I attempt a painting craft project like painting, the project lasts the duration of an average toddler's attention span (i.e. 8 minutes). But make the project play-dough and I have to tear him away from the stuff an hour later for lunch time/nap time/diaper change. 
  5. Thanks to the extended attention span that play-dough induces, I can actually walk away and wash a nearby dish if need be (Gasp!).
  6. Relatively mess free (see points 1. and 2. in the Con section for exceptions to this rule
As you can see, the pros vastly outweigh the cons. A couple of weeks ago I tried a new play dough activity - a large, pile of plain, white, homemade play dough; 3 bowls of food-colored rice; a selection of accoutrements for decorating.

There is something really lovely and soothing about a big mess of uncolored play dough. It gives me a feeling akin to a freshly washed, white down blanket or a thick dusting of newly fallen snow.

This project was definitely one of my favorites and by the focus and the duration of time spent doing it, I think Taran would agree. We broke two of my ceramic bowls in the process and I still have flecks of multicolored rice trapped under the glass of our table, but all-in-all....totally worth it. Just look at this face:

You know he's reeeeeally excited about something when his shoulders hunch up and 2 little pointer fingers come out

I was trying to think of halloween costumes the other day and I was pondering on what were some things that he really liked right now. The best I could come up with was a tub of play dough.


  1. Our training staff kept toys on hand for use during classroom training. One of the coolest things was watching what grownups would do with play dough when they weren't thinking about it. I'm not sure that true play dough affcianados ever grow out of it.

    1. That's awesome! What other toys did you have on hand? My brother-in-law admitted the other day that long after his kids have left the play-dough table he's still at it making little figurines. Ha!

  2. I LOVE THIS!!!!!!!! Will be doing it soon with Maren and tell you how it goes. xoxo

    1. I bet she'd like making the little itty-bitty "cupcakes". Taran really loves cupcake wrappers and you can find some super cute patterns. I can't wait to see what Maren thinks. I had fun figuring out how to make unusual colors with the food coloring. I think I found a site somewhere that gave a guide for how many drops of each of the primary colors to use to make more unusual colors. I'll have to see if I can dig that sight up again. I also think next time that I'll add just a teeny bit of water to the food coloring. Otherwise you are trying to work 5 drops of coloring into 2 cups of rice and the effect winds up a bit patchy. I think this project would be good with colored oats too which also feel really nice when you run your fingers through them and for kiddos Taran's age, it's less concerning if they eat a bunch of it. Although I guess Maren is past that stage.