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Homemade Pumpkin Spice Play Dough

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A recipe to try with your preschoolers

When it comes to Autumn, I’m really quite predictable. I love cosy jumpers, long walks and a good old pumpkin spice latte. I’ve wanted to make this play dough for some time, yet couldn’t source any pumpkin spice mix (it was rather expensive from Amazon) so I eventually googled a recipe and made my own – turns out it was pretty simple…

How to make pumpkin spice mix

This recipe was sourced from Taste of Home, with slight adjustments. Just to note, you need to be super careful with nutmeg as it is a hallucinogenic – check out this article for extra information. As a result, I wouldn’t recommend this recipe for children who are likely to taste test or alternatively, just leave the nutmeg out.

You will need:

  • 4 tsp of ground ginger (the original recipe called for 2, but I wanted a lighter colour on mine)
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp of cloves
  • 1/2 tsp of nutmeg

The above will be enough for the play dough itself, however if you want to make enough for actual seasoning too, then double the quantities.

We put all of the ingredients into a pestle and mortar, then Z (3.8 years) ground it all down to mix. This was a great opportunity for her to smell the ingredients and to work on hand strength. It smelled exactly like the pumpkin spice lattes I love – yummy!

How to make the play dough

Once the pumpkin spice was made, we simply added it to a usual play dough recipe. This is the basic no-cook recipe we use for all of our play dough. To note, you may need additional water – just pour it in gradually so that it doesn’t get too sticky.

Once the play dough was made, it was straight down to the business of play! I set Z up with a cake pan, buttons, stampers, a roller and pipe cleaners in Autumnal themed colours, then she got busy with the activity in hand.

Why you should try this activity:

Making play dough together has so many educational benefits. Here’s a few reasons why you should try it with your little ones:

  • Introduction to early math: From counting cups or spoonfuls to measuring out quantities there’s heaps your little one can learn from this practical activity.
  • Hand-eye coordination: it takes focus to pour ingredients from the packet into the bowl
  • Fine motor skills and hand strength: using pincer grip to hold the teaspoon and hand strength to mix the ingredients.
  • Sensory exploration: making play dough engages the senses – although I should probably add that tasting is not recommended due to the salt content!
  • Social emotional: this is a lovely way to spend time together. Z and I often make play dough together whilst her younger brother naps.
  • Making connections to the wider world: In this instance, making a nest but play dough can really be adapted for so many small world activities!
  • Listening skills: Via verbal instructions.

Age Recommendations:

As mentioned previously, Z was just over 2 years old when I first made play dough WITH her. Before that, she just played with the batches I made up.

You need to make sure that your child is past the stage where they put everything in their mouths. This will depend on the child. With Z, I could do all of these activities with her from around the age of 12 months yet her younger brother (almost 18 months) is only just getting to the stage where he doesn’t put all of the things in his mouth.

To note, until your child gets used to these types of activities, you can absolutely guarantee a huge mess. This is partly due to the development of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.Don’t worry though, the more they are exposed to sensory / messy play, the tidier they eventually become!

Regardless of age, this activity should be done under strict supervision.

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Sian Thomas

Sian Thomas

Sian is the founder of Teach Investigate Play. She helps parents navigate the early years by providing meaningful and simple activities. She also owns 'Get Set Social Media' - a social media consultancy for small businesses. From the UK, now living in Vienna (via Australia). About page has more!

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