Sensory Play: Cloud Dough Bake Shop

Aug 16, 2013

Today, I'm sharing one of our favourite sensory materials: cloud dough. It's a silky, moldable dough that crumbles into a fine, soft powder when you run your hands through it.

It's super-simple to make, using just two basic household ingredients. It feels heavenly, and it smells fantastic, so playing with it is a truly wonderful sensory experience for kids. It also keeps indefinitely when stored properly.What you need:

  • 1 cup baby oil
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour

Combine your baby oil and flour in a large bowl and mix well with a fork, wooden spoon or pastry cutter. It will take a minute or two to completely blend the ingredients together. When you can squeeze a handful of dough, and it holds its shape well, you're good to go!

Cloud dough can also be made by substituting baby oil with cooking oil. I've heard tell of people using vegetable oil, olive oil and almond oil. I would imagine the latter would be a nice, scented alternative.

Because this is a messy activity, we always take our cloud dough outdoors, and you may want to have your child wear an apron or a smock.

Today, we set up a "Bake Shop" with our cloud dough.
I poured our dough into a bin (I love dollar store kitty-litter bins for this type of activity), and set out an array of instruments and goodies for The Hooligans to explore and create with.

Plastic ice cream cones, molds and cookie cutters, along with several small bowls and a few glass jars provided them with plenty of ways to experiment with their dough.

Glass beads, buttons, seashells and plastic gems and jewels were used as "candy toppings" to decorate their dishes. And a variety of instruments, like meatball scoops, ice cream scoops, tweezers and small spoons and scoops, provided lots of opportunity for fine motor development.

It looks like simple child's play, but think of all the learning going on here:  the children are measuring, calculating, estimating and constructing while they play. They're making choices about colours and materials when they add the "toppings" to their creations. Hand-eye co-ordination comes into play as little fingers tweeze and transfer the small beads and buttons into the bowls and jars. And small tools, like tweezers and tongs, help to strengthen the muscles that kids will need one day for using scissors and grasping pencils.

Just look at how beautiful their creations are! What child wouldn't want to play with a set-up as inviting as this?

When the kids are finished playing with the cloud dough, simply store it in a container with a tight-fitting lid. We've had our dough for over a year now, and it's still as fresh as it was the day we made it! To see more of our ideas for play, pop over and visit us at Happy Hooligans! You'll find lots of easy and inexpensive crafts and activities for children among our pages there!

Article Author Jackie Currie
Jackie Currie

Read more from Jackie here.

Jackie Currie is a mother, daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind the blog Happy Hooligans. A self-proclaimed glitterphobe, she specializes in easy, affordable arts & crafts and good, old-fashioned play.

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