We can remember the the joy and excitement we got from seeing collections of stackable brightly colored containers of play dough in our childhoods. There was something so intriguing about the color and consistency. It held the sensational promise of creativity and exploration with it's curious squish and shapable features. That is exactly the kind of engagement and fulfillment we want Wilder to have around here when we play. Play dough is pretty count-on-able for these purposes and is a treasured activity around here.
There is more to consider than the fun of the color and sensation in play dough however...
Whether something gets chewed up and swallowed or rubbed on the skin, it gets ingested by the body.The skin is the bodies largest organ and acts as the permeable, highly sensitive barrier between our insides and the outside world. Our friend Nadine Artemis of Living Libations says "Whatever is going on our body through the skin goes in faster than digestion". Nadine's recent interview on Daniel Vitalis' podcast on becoming radiantly sexy from the inside out offers excellent information about skincare.
We look at our skincare is part of our "diet". This includes soaps, lotions, salves, and oils... and play dough!
Like most goods that are commercially available, the play dough at ordinary toy stores is not something we want our kid to rub all over himself.
One of the markets most popular Play doughs is chock full of quote... "Water, a starch-based binder, a retrogradation inhibitor, salt, lubricant, surfactant, preservative, hardener, humectant, fragrance, and color. A petroleum additive gives the compound a smooth feel, and borax prevents mold from developing." Read more at Wikipedia.
Surfactant? Humectant? Petroleum.... Fragrance? Eek. Commercial Play dough smells like glue.
Speaking of scent...
Enter Aromatherapy. We love lavender, blood orange, peppermint, cinnamon, and tangerine! I once met a woman who was selling a product called aroma-dough, and using just lavender essential oil for relaxation. This is what gave me the idea to combine aromatherapy with the playing with dough experience. You can get creative with your essential oils and add whatever blends you like. We opted for a citrus scent profile to bring an energetic and uplifting element to this batch made on a cold and gloomy November day.
As for the color aspect of play dough...
We go the real-food coloring route. Food dyes are linked to a plethora of physical and behavioral ailments and difficulties that are often treated with medication. We avoid the food coloring and the meds altogether! We use spirulina powder, schizandra or beet powder, turmeric, or the concentrated cook water from colorful foods like blueberries, beets, or cranberries to color our dough.
Here is our superfood take on play dough:
Aromatherapy Play Dough
- 1 C flour
- 1/2 C salt
- 1 T oil (coconut, olive)
- 2 tsps cream of tartar
- 1 c water or soak water for color
- 1 tsp colorful substance - beet powder, spirulina, etc.
- several drops of essential oil - we love the high quality essential oils from Living Libations
- Mix beet powder into the 1 c warm water until dissolved.
- Mix all ingredients in a pot until well blended. Stir over medium heat until dough rolls into sticky blob. And then stir a little bit more (about 3 mins).
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Store in an airtight container.
I love these side by side images of Wilder, from about a year apart.