Clubhouse Play Doh, Pumpkin Edition

First, I should definitely apologize for the absolute lack of blogging from the Clubhouse. It has been a very busy time, as I'm sure you all understand. I promise I'll get better though. So many activities to share, I will do my best to get it all on here in a timely fashion. Now on to the show...

A fresh batch of Play Dough (a.k.a. Play Doh) gets whipped up here at the Clubhouse every month. The Holiday months are most fun though, when the Play Doh takes on the scents and colors of the Season.

We start with the same basic recipe every time. The recipe is simple, as it should be when working with 2-4 year old children. There is no cooking and no wait time, because seriously, how many Preschoolers do you know who like to wait?
2 Cups Flour
First, 2 Cups of Flour. Letting the kids measure out their ingredients is part of the fun. With all of the ingredients out on the table we discuss. Which one is the Flour? What color is it? What does it feel like? As they are pouring the flour into their big mixing pots we discuss how it is the First ingredient, and First and Flour both start with the same letter, don't they? Which letter is that? Conversation continues as we check the recipe for the Second ingredient, Salt.
1 Cup Salt

The Salt and the Flour are the same Color, aren't they? Do they feel the same though? What's the difference? 
How about Smell? 

As with anything with Preschoolers, learning happens when the child is actively engaged and doesn't even realize he/she is learning at all. At this point we've already done some letter recognition, we've started an order sequence, we've covered a couple of senses as we look, touch, smell and yes, even taste. A little dash of Salt on the tongue, a little taste of Flour after that. Do they taste the same? What's the difference? Does any of this look like Play Doh yet?

We had better move on to the next ingredient then, because the key is in following the recipe, just like following instructions, isn't it? (Always nice to be able to throw in a little lesson on following instructions whenever you can, and not just when instructions are not being followed.)

A large, displayed recipe assists with this part. Easily referenced the kids understand what to do next.

1 Cup Water
Would be nice if the third ingredient started with the letter T and we could continue our little alliteration game, but it doesn't. What letter does it start with? How much of it do we need? Is this ingredient the same as the first 2? How is it different? Again, asking a lot of questions throughout the process and allowing the children to answer is often a better teaching tool than simply stating what they are doing and why. It also makes being the Teacher so much more fun, especially when you hear answers like "The flour is fluffy, but the water is wet." "The salt is like little rocks, the flour is like powder and the water is like slime!" Amazing where young minds draw their comparisons from. Now, on to the next ingredient. Yes, we talk about the letter it begins with again... and this time we introduce a new measuring tool. No longer a cup do we need, but a tablespoon. Does the tablespoon hold more or less than the cup did? That's why we measure, right? What if we put in 1 cup instead of 1 tablespoon, what do you think would happen? (Yes, there is the occasional time a student says "Lets try it!", and so we do. Another teaching tool, letting them make the mistake so they can see what happens when they don't follow a recipe/ instructions.)

1 Tablespoon Oil
Now, the fun part!! This Play Doh was supposed to be Pumpkin Play Doh, wasn't it? Does it smell like Pumpkin yet? Is it the color of a Pumpkin yet? We've got some work to do...

3 drops of each color     
Having Orange food coloring out would be too easy, so instead we have out a variety of colors and we figure out together which 2 colors, once mixed together, will make our creation Orange? How many drops of each color do we use? The recipe says 3, and at this point we know how important it is to follow the recipe! We mix some colors around on the side until we make Orange, and once we realize Yellow and Red do the trick, we add them to the mixing pot. Sometimes it's a tough squeeze, as you can see from my little guy in the picture. Doing it all on their own is part of the process though! Now we start up a little math lesson, because if the recipe says 3 drops of each color, and we have two colors, how many drops are we going to put in total? A lot of out loud counting takes place here, usually on little fingers. Who needs a calculator, aren't fingers the best way to complete a Math problem?

Sprinkle "Special Seasonings"
Now it's time for the sprinkling of "Special Seasonings". In this batch, we're going for Pumpkin.. so now it's time to put those little noses to use! Yes, I have Pumpkin Pie Spice out on the table, along with Cinnamon, Nutmeg and All Spice. There's also Pepper, Garlic powder and Dried Basil. Which of these smell like you would put them into Pumpkin Pie? Immediately the Pepper, Garlic and Basil are eliminated. Even the youngest chef knows that those ingredients do not belong in a Pumpkin Pie. The nose is a powerful sense, especially when you're 3 years old and not afraid to use it!

Time for mixing!! We have a variety of utensils we use for this, but inevitably little hands want to get in there and do the work. Hey, I said this was a simple process, I never said it wasn't a messy one. At this age learning is supposed to be hands on, messy and a lot of fun! Besides, I have been known to make some pretty big messes with all of these very same ingredients, I just call it cooking.

As the mixing continues, so does the conversation. What's happening as we mix it? What does it feel like? Work those little hands!!

Sometimes at this point, the kids are so focused, elbow deep in their concoctions, that I simply watch... and listen to the grunting that is apparently required when you're properly kneading dough. Then suddenly, VOILA...!
Perfect batch of Pumpkin Play Doh, and a very happy Preschooler. Makes a pretty big batch, doesn't it? Changing this recipe to make it something new is easy. Change up the "Special Seasonings" with just about anything you have in your spice collection. Change the color. Alter the recipe amounts accordingly so that everyone is making smaller batches, and then let them simply pick what they want theirs to look and smell like. Purple Play Doh that smells like Garlic? Um, sure.. why not? The point is, they are learning, they are engaged, and they create something that we actually get to play with!

 Squishing, rolling, making balls, worms, pancakes and towers. The fun from here is endless. Well, as endless as a Preschool attention span allows. Add rolling pins, cookie cutters, etc.. and watch their imaginations bring the Play Doh to life!

When they move on to their next activity, place their Play Doh in a sealed Tupperware type container and it will be ready to play with again and again. If it gets a little "sticky" as time goes by, simply roll it around in a little flour. We've been using our batch all month. As a matter of fact, it's just about time for December's batches.. Cinnamon Play Doh and Pine Tree Play Doh. Play Doh making is always anticipated around the Clubhouse, for both teacher and students. Hopefully you can enjoy this simple recipe at home and come up with a few concoctions all your own. I guarantee you'll come up with something not available in stores, and your kids will love it!!

Simple Play Dough
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Cup Salt
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Oil
  • Color/s of your choice 
  • Sprinkle of your selected "Special Seasonings"
Let little hands mix it all together, and Enjoy!!

Clubhouse Beginnings, Blog All About It

As a teacher, without a doubt, my favorite age to work with has always been the kids on the road to Kindergarten. This is the most amazing window of opportunity to teach a young mind the skills they will need and use for the rest of their lives. It's not just about ABC's and 123's either. This is the age where every aspect of their development is a work in progress, and they are ready, eager and excited to learn!!

"Experts tell us that 90% of all brain development 
occurs by the age of five.
If we don't begin thinking about education in the early years,
our children are at risk of falling behind by the time they start kindergarten."
                                                                                                                                              -Robert L. Ehrlich

As a stay at home mom in Maricopa, AZ I have had the pleasure of meeting a lot of other mommy's on the playgrounds, at the Park, and sometimes just chasing our children around the produce section at Fry's Supermarket. I have met mom's who stay at home, mom's who work from home, and mom's who leave home to work. Mom's who have five kids, mom's who take care of other people's kids and mom's who want more kids. There is one thing we all have in common, we want our children to succeed. We want them to learn, grow and become successful in whatever it is they decide to do with their lives, and we all know that the learning starts to take place far before we can enroll them in Kindergarten.

As someone who has taught preschool aged children since long before I ever had one of my own, I have been asked many questions by these mom's. The most common question always being, "How?"

How do I get my child to sit still long enough to learn? 
How do I make learning fun? 
How do I even start? 

Enter the Fit Kids Clubhouse. Now don't get me wrong, I am aware that there are a few local Preschools and that some have Kindergarten prep programs. I know because most of these programs are full and many parents have their children on waiting lists. This town may still be relatively small, but there are so many young minds running around Maricopa, could there ever be too many options on where to educate them? I didn't think so. 

So here we are. Actually we have been here over a year and this Fall we decided we are ready to expand. We have added more days, more hours, and more classroom materials. We are still going to keep our classroom attendance small, with only 5 kids learning at any given time. This makes it easier for each child to receive the attention and guidance they need. 

That being said, you may wonder.. why the blog?

The way I see it, the mom's that have asked me questions are the same kind of mom's who want to be a part of the learning process, they just aren't always sure how. So no matter which Preschool you choose, it's still always nice to know what you can do from home. Truth is, teaching always begins at home, and it's up to the parent's to decide what is being learned there. 

So if you want to know how to take a couple simple items from your pantry and turn them into a lesson in Math, Science, cause and effect, our five senses, and following directions, we'll be blogging all about it next week when we make our first Fall batch of Pumpkin play-doh.

Wonder how to properly make a learning space at home for your child? See the Clubhouse Classroom, Adventures in Space blog posted earlier this week. 

Curious about Preschoolers and Yoga? Coming soon! 

Live locally and don't want to miss out on family events like the Clubhouse Fall Carnival? All Clubhouse events will be listed as soon as the times and dates are set. 

Have a specific question? Send me an email, post a comment... I promise to blog all about it.

Stay tuned and follow us along on our Clubhouse adventures!

Clubhouse Blogger,
Ms. Liz