The new school year is quickly approaching for us at our very sweet little preschool. Some of the kids will be coming to school for the very first time. In fact they may have never been away from their mama. Because needless to say, for some kids (and their parents too), the first day of school can be intimidating, scary and even a bit traumatic. I know I sat in my car and cried for a good twenty minutes after I dropped my oldest daughter off on her first day of preschool.
Every year on this very special day we help the kids adjust to their new environment by offering a time-honored and much loved activity, playdough, made a bit friendlier with the addition of calming essential oils and herbs.
Playing with playdough on its own provides stress relief through tactile squeezing and massaging of the smooth squishy dough. With essential oils added the child instantly gets all the benefits of aromatherapy. Breathing deepens as the oils are inhaled calming the mind and body, bringing about a sense of peace. Read Herbal Playdough for more info on the benefits of playdough and to get some great ideas for making your own colorful fragrant completely chemical free playdough. It is fun to let each child custom make their own playdough to take home. They have something fun they made to share with their family at the end of the big day.
Materials you will need:
Prepared Playdough or you can make the playdough with the kids. Here is my favorite recipe:
- 1 cup of flour
- 1/2 cup of salt
- 1 cup of water
- 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tbsp oil
Combine dry ingredients in a sauce pan. Add the water and oil. Stir together and heat slowly over low heat. Stir almost constantly until the playdough sets up. Let it cool to warm before playing, playdough right off the stove is hot.
Food Coloring (Please note that I am searching for affordable coloring made from natural materials that are healthy. I do use powdered herbs for coloring when making a large quantity of one colored playdough for the school, yet I need something wonderful for coloring playdough when we are making personal playdough for taking home. If any one has a source, please share!)
Essential Oils I like to offer lavender, sweet orange, cardamon, spearmint, rosemary and rose geranium.
Dried Herbs like lavender blossoms, ground cinnamon and rose petals
Here is how I do this fun activity:
- Give each child a nice blob of playdough and some playdough toys.
- Have them pick out one color from your food colors to add to their playdough. Put a couple of drops of food coloring in their playdough and start mixing it in for them so they don’t get a big blob of food coloring on their hands. You will have rainbow hands at the end.
- Let everyone smell the essential oils. I usually talk with the kids a bit about smelling the oil by inhaling, not exhaling. And then we practice. I tell them to be sure not to touch their nose to the bottle. This keeps the oils clean and safe for everyone to use. Then let them choose which oils they want in their playdough. I have found that most kids will want every oil!
- Have the child make a hole in the playdough. Then you place a drop or two of oil in the hole and take a moment to personally squish up the oil into the playdough so that the oil doesn’t come into direct contact with the child’s skin. It is safe once it diluted into the playdough.
- Offer herbs and glitter for the kids to mix into their playdough. Just dust a bit over the top of their playdough or make a little pile on the side for them to add in. Some kids find the glitter and herbs to be “sharp” but usually they love adding in more and more as they go.
- When the child is done playing, bag up their playdough so they can take it home at the end of the day.
How do you welcome little ones to your school for that first big day? I would love to hear all about it!
Well, the first day has come and went. We had a blast making our playdough. Some of the kids made some really neat pieces of art with their playdough and all the additions we used. Fresh lavender stalks became trees and dried roses became lava.
Enjoy the pictures!
Please Note about essential oils: Essential oils are concentrated plant substances. They are dangerous and should not be used unsupervised around children. Always keep the oils up and out of reach when you aren’t using them and be sure that an adult is the one who holds and uses the bottles. I tell the kids that the essential oils are for teachers to use. Some oils smell like really yummy food, so please do be careful. Use mild oils like the ones listed above.