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  • Kate Cygler

Mindful Play to Awaken the senses: Aromatherapy Playdough

Offer your children the gift of soothing sensory play as you learn how to create your own customized, scented playdough. Building from a tried and true basic playdough recipe, you and your children can creatively match scents and colors to make a dough that captures their senses and helps them anchor to the present moment in mindful play. Your aromatherapy playdough can serve as a staple for an endless number of play experiences.


This is my favorite playdough recipe, but if you have an alternate method that you prefer, please feel free to substitute.


Basic Playdough Recipe: 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 tsp cream of tartar. Whisk dry ingredients together in a pot. Add 2 cups warm water, 2 Tbsp oil of your choice (e.g. Olive, vegetable, canola), and any desired food coloring, and scent (e.g. few drops lavender oil, few drops orange oil, 1/2 tsp vanilla and/or almond extract). Whisk together wet and dry ingredients to remove lumps. With adult supervision, warm the liquid over medium heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. Scrape sides and bottom of pot to prevent burning. Heat until liquid begins to solidify, forming clumps the consistency of mashed potatoes. Remove from stove and once the dough has cooled, knead and roll into a ball. Now you're ready to play!


The color and scent combinations for your playdough are endless, but if you're looking for some suggestions, these are three options that my family particularly enjoys.


Sunny Citrus: Orange/Yellow food coloring with a few drops of orange essential oil.

Peaceful Purple: Purple food color with a few drops of lavender essential oil.

Cozy Cookie: No added coloring with 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp almond extract.


***Please note that not all essential oils are appropriate or healthy for children. Please research your oils before adding to the mixture. It is not recommended that essential oils be placed directly on a child's skin. Consider allergies and skin sensitivities when selecting scent ingredients.


Some Mindful Play Experiences:


1. Simply roll the dough in your hands, enjoying the texture and scent. You might add cookie cutters, rolling pins, or a plastic fork and knife to enrich the play. *


2. Use the dough to create and express a big feelings.


3. Add miniature toys and trinkets with interesting textures (e.g. shells, jewels, rocks) to create a play scene.


4. Form the dough into a circle on a paper plate and add plastic beads, beans, colored corn kernels, or nature materials to create a mandala .


5. Many recycled containers can be transformed into holders for your aromatherapy playdough. You can use collage materials, paint pens, stickers, or markers to decorate your containers based on how the scented dough makes you feel.




6. If you make more than one type of scented dough, you may like to close your eyes and try to guess the scent.


Awaken your senses and let your imagination run wild!

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