Thursday 15 November 2012


Danny kneading some bread dough.
My darling elder son once said to me, "Mummy, your tummy is like dough and Daddy's is like concrete." I refrained from telling him it was all his fault!! I don't think it was intended as an insult, merely a very well-worded observation. In fact, knowing how much the boys like dough, perhaps it was a compliment...or maybe not.

Completely engrossed in brown playdough.

It was playing with playdough that taught me a very important lesson about small children. A relative gave Zac a collection of pots of brightly-coloured playdough for Christmas one year. I loved the smell of it, he loved playing with it, but being a boring adult I couldn't resist nagging him not to get the colours mixed up together. "It will all turn into a horrible brown colour and then you'll be sad." For ages he complied and made things using only one colour at a time. Then one day, probably while I was distracted by Danny, he smushed the red and green together. I came back to find him triumphant- "I've made a lovely muddy field!"
That brown playdough got played with more than any other dough ever. Tractors drove through it, diggers dug it up, lego vehicles got stuck in it. I realised then that putting my preconceived adult restrictions on his play was a ridiculous thing to do. If it's not going to cause serious damage, kids should be allowed to experiment as much as possible- they're often a million times more creative than we can ever hope to be, and every time we limit play with rules we're curbing that creativity.

I'm afraid I don't splash out on the proper shop-bought stuff, despite the lovely smell. We usually make our own playdough (there are millions of recipes on the internet)- it's almost as good but much cheaper than the real thing, you can make it in a much bigger quantity than you get in a pot, and it usually keeps pretty well in a poly bag so you can use it over again. Children love to help make it and choose what colour food-colouring to use too.
Playing with dough is a lovely, tactile, calm activity, and there are lots of physical skills to master in order to roll it out with a rolling pin, use cutters, roll ball shapes or sausages, make figures etc.

Making Christmas biscuits.
Run, run as fast as you can!
Once they've had a bit of practice with these skills it's nice to transfer them to dough-making with a reward. The boys love making biscuits, especially gingerbread men and Christmas biscuits which apparently need a LOT of icing and sugary decorations to finish them off.

Our other favourite dough to make is pizza dough. It's so easy I don't know why anyone ever buys pizza bases. We make it with
Zac teaching the dreaded Barnaby Bear how to make pizza.
  • 150g of flour (I do about half and half plain and self-raising.) 
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 
  • a pinch of salt, and 
  • enough water to make it into a soft dough.
  • I also sometimes add a bit of that dried "parmesan" cheese you can sprinkle from a pot, to give it a bit of a cheesy flavour. 
The boys can then roll out their own individual pizza base, spread it with a mixture of tomato puree and ketchup, and add as many toppings as they fancy. They're always delicious, and if one likes mushrooms whilst the other prefers loads of olives they each get what they want without having to pick things off!

Zac preparing a "lightly-floured" surface.

We've also made bread on a few occasions. Bits of it are fun- like the kneading and shaping, and they are always proud of the finished product even though it sometimes comes out a bit like a brick, but there's quite a lot of waiting for it to prove etc so you have to have other entertaining things to do in between times. We had fun making Hedgehog rolls, where you had to snip the back of your roll-shaped dough with children's scissors to make it spike up like prickles.

All in all I can thoroughly recommend the joys of dough. It's one of the least messy, messy play ideas and you can get a delicious pay-off at the end.

Not sure where I stand on the "dough disco" Weird!!


  1. I love this post! i am a colour separator! i love the light floured surface picture i nearly snorted laughing!

    These kinds of activities are such memory makers! thanks for linking up with #magicmoments

  2. Thank you for #magic moments- such a wonderful variety of posts. Yep, the "lightly floured" day was one where the addition of dough actually seemed a bit unnecessary!

  3. Great post! I am terrible for keeping the colours separate! Ooops - lesson learned ;)

    1. Haha. I'd never have imagined they would actually like brown playdough so much until they made it. (I still felt a little nostalgic for the lovely bright red and green tho!)

  4. I am a stickler for keeping the colours separate - as was my Mum! I think you're right though - who are we to put restrictions on childs play? I am also a bit obsessive about Grace not breaking or losing things! Great recipe too. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo lovely x

    1. I know what you mean about breaking and losing things. I wish the boys took more care of their toys. My husband still has some of the toys he played with as a child. I can't see many theirs making it to the next generation!!