Valentine’s day is almost here- that means… CHOCOLATE FEVER!!! I am such a chocolate lover, the smell alone just drives me crazy. So the other day I decided to make Chocolate-Scented Play-Dough with my students.
One OT activity that is always a super success with my students is a RECIPE.
It can be any recipe, but the kids always love it. PLUS, making something from scratch works on SO many different skills for kids.
- Bilateral Coordination – Mixing, stirring, and kneading are awesome for encouraging two handed coordination. This comes easily for some kids and is more difficult for others. Also, activities that require one hand to stabilize while the other manipulates is great for crossing midline and encouraging hand dominance.
- Forearm Rotation and Strength – Using measuring cups or spoons to scoop ingredients and then dump them into another container is the perfect way to work on forearm strength. Children need to get comfortable changing the positions of their forearm during fine motor activities in order to use thier hands for precise manipulation activities.
- Hand Strength and Dexterity – Kneading, rolling, and squeezing the dough is a wonderful (not to mention fun) way to get little hands nice and strong. Using play dough tools like cookie cutters, scissors, and rolling pins is a great strengthening activity.
Another AMAZING thing about using a recipe in an OT session is that you can literally adapt it in a ton of ways to make it easier or more difficult.
To make a recipe easier:
- Pre-measure the ingredients
- Use easy-to-pour containers to help kids with weak strength
- Use non-spillable mats and bowls to limit messes
- Pre-mix the ingredients so the kids can spend more time mixing and playing
To make a recipe harder:
- Have the children read a recipe and measure out the ingredients
- Ask the students to “half” or “double” the recipe, forcing them to use math and calculations to finish the recipe.
- Assign each child one ingredient and have them work together to follow the recipe.
Classroom recipes need to have simple ingredients and they must be No-Bake or No-Cook. I always get so annoyed when I find the perfect recipe online and then it says “add boiling water”.
First of all, I can’t boil water at school, and I can’t have boiling water around my kids. It’s dangerous. So this recipe for “Heavenly No-Cook Chocolate-Scented Play Dough” is perfect for home or the classroom. It’s a few ingredients, requires no heat, and totally adaptable.
Of course, chocolate-scented dough is totally versatile! Everybody loves it! It’s perfect for a rainy day. Plus, think of the holidays- Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Easter, and Christmas, etc. So many excuses for chocolate! The possibilities are endless…
The Perfect No-Cook Chocolate-Scented Play Dough
1.5 cups flour
.5 cups salt
.5 cups cocoa powder
1 cup water
1 tbs. vegetable oil
Mix all the dry ingredients, add the oil, then the water little by little. Stir it in until the water is absorbed. Then dig in with your hands and get your dough into one big ball. Separate the dough into individual portions for each child. Hand out your playdough toys and let the kids go to town. My favorite playdough toy for chocolate dough (and any other dough, too) is the Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe Candy Jar Set. It comes with adorable cutters that look just like candies or cookies. Love it. But you can use anything at all – or just your hands!
I love to keep my old “Valentine’s Boxes”, especially the ones with the plastic inserts just the size of candies!