Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Play Dough Rainbow Match

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Up until about 7 years ago, I had no idea rainbows had an order.  I don't remember that lesson in elementary school so I drew them, all willy nilly, including colors like pink or heaven forbid, turquoise.  I came from a family of artists so I knew about color combinations but for some reason, I never applied it to rainbows.

So now I know, my kids know (well, my 5 year old is learning, the order that is), and we have happy, normal rainbows. And we can create them in many different ways.  One easy way involves only play dough, a sheet of paper with a simple rainbow drawn on it, and a sheet protector (see picture below). That's it!  Of course you need play dough in the colors of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple (or violet for you artist types) but that's easy enough to make or even buy if you so choose.

Play dough is a fantastic tool for strengthening fine motor muscles in the hands.  While your child is pushing, pulling, rolling, squishing, and forming the dough, they are developing the muscles needed for writing and hand coordination.

The sheet protector allows for easy clean-up as well as the reuse of your rainbow.  The kids will need to roll "snakes" from the different colors of dough.  Then they can match each colored snake to the corresponding colored arch on the rainbow.  Don't forget to talk about color combinations as they form their rainbow.

A bonus exploration to this project is discovering lengths.  As the kids form snakes, have them show you the short snakes and the long snakes.  You can also challenge them to see how long they can make a snake without it breaking.  For pre-k aged children, get out a ruler or unit blocks and measure each colored snake.  There are many ways to build on this project.

Don't be afraid to let your little one explore with other tools.  My son sticks all sorts of things in play dough: pencils, toys, marbles, spiky balls, acorns, pipe cleaners, etc.  He hides things in them too.  I have to go through all the play dough before I toss it because he leaves all sorts of treasures hiding amongst the dough.

Want to make your own play dough?  Here is my quick, go-to recipe from The Imagination Tree:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1.5 cups boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tarter (optional but it does make for smoother dough)
  • Coloring (gel colors or liquid water colors are most vibrant but regular food coloring works as well)
  • Scents and Glitter are fun and optional

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Knead dough until it's no longer sticky. It will be very hot so be cautious. If the dough is sticky add a little flour as you knead until it reaches desired play dough texture.  

What kind of rainbows have you been creating lately?

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