November is here and there’s nothing like the smell of sweet pumpkin pie…in your child’s play dough!
Pumpkin pie scented play dough is wonderful because it brings a whole other sensory dimension into kid’s tactile play — smell.
Smell is unique because, unlike all the other senses, it is the only sense that goes directly to the brain. This means it travels faster and affects us more quickly than all the other senses. Smell is also strongly tied with memory, especially as it relates to emotions and circumstances. This is because the “smelling receptors” are closely tied to parts of the brain that are responsible for memory and emotion. Think about it: what happens when, for example, you smell cookies baking in the oven? You are immediately reminded of a person or time when you smelled them before (such as eating cookies at grandma’s house), and you will likely experience an emotion along with that memory. In theory, using smell as part of a learning experience could help kids better remember what they learn, especially if there is an emotion tied to the lesson (such as something that’s funny, sad, confusing, or scary).
In addition to triggering emotional memories, smell is also a useful sensory tool to help our kiddos who may have sensory issues. Sensory seekers may appreciate scented play dough because it provides greater intensity to the sensory experience. And the kids who always seems to be lethargic and slouching over will benefit from the scented experience because it provides more intense sensation which basically encourages the body to perk up and get with the program. So it’s a win-win. Just be sure all the kids know not to try and eat the play dough, no matter how good it smells (and it smells GOOD!).
Here are the ingredients for Pumpkin Pie Scented Play Dough:
• 1 cup water
• 20 drops of yellow food coloring
• 10 drops of red food coloring
• 1 cup flour
• 1/2 tablespoon oil (any kind)
• 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (find in the spices aisle at the store)
• 1/2 cup salt
• 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
(Makes the equivalent of two four-inch balls of play dough)
In a large pot, mix 1 cup water, 20 drops yellow food coloring, and 10 drops red food coloring. Add 1 cup flour, 1/2 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1/2 cup salt, and 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Cook on the stove over medium-high heat and mix continuously with wooden spoon for 3-5 minutes. Keep an eye on the consistency of the play dough and remove from heat as soon as it starts to become firm and is still a little sticky (it will stay hot and continue to cook a little once you remove from heat). Once it’s cool enough to touch, knead it and smoosh it until you’re ready to use or store. Store in an airtight container such as a ziploc bag, tupperware, or small plastic baby food container when not in use. As long as you properly store your play dough, it can remain good for up to a year or more.
I dare you to play with this pumpkin pie scented play dough without immediately craving a big slice of pumpkin pie!
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In addition to being mama to two sweet little boys and wife to a crazy awesome husband, Christie is a Registered & Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L). She holds a B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in Education from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA...Go Bruins!), and an M.A. in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California (USC OT). She has experience working as a pediatric OT in early intervention (birth to 3), clinic-based, and school-based settings. Her mission with MamaOT.com is to encourage, educate, and empower those who care for children. Christie loves that she gets to PLAY when she goes to work, is hopelessly addicted to Kettle Corn, and is known for being able to turn virtually anything into a therapeutic tool or activity, from empty food containers to laundry and everything in between. Learn more about Christie and what inspired her to become an OT.
Occupational therapy (OT) is a holistic profession that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities, also known as “occupations”. Some OTs help people diagnosed with disability, injury, or disease. Others help prevent disability, injury, or disease. Because of occupational therapy, people of all ages are able to say, "I can!" no matter what their struggle. Isn't that amazing?!
. . . . .Please provide appropriate supervision to the child in your care when completing any activities from this site. You as the grown-up will need to decide what types of products/activities on this list will be safe for your child. If you’re not sure, check with your child’s occupational therapist or pediatrician. Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when implementing any ideas or activities from this site, particularly if there is any risk of injury (e.g., falling, crashing), choking (e.g., small parts), drowning (e.g., water play), or allergic/adverse reaction (e.g., materials/ingredients). The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site.