The other morning the boys and I made play-doh. Making homemade play-doh is one of those things most people don't realize is really easy to do and so much better than store-bought (add to that list homemade popcorn and homemade marshmallows). All you need is flour, water, salt, and a bit of cream of tartar (actual recipe can be found here).
While they were playing, it struck me that play-doh can be an amazing tool of play and learning. They played all morning with their dough and thought up lots of different things to do with it. At one point they made hammers out of the dough and were banging the table with them to "fix" the table.
Tommy helped measure the ingredients and mix them together as they cooked (cooking skills!).
Finished play-doh. Looks a lot like mashed potatoes. Needs food coloring.
Next we added food coloring to each of their balls of dough to make it their favorite color. They learned that yellow and red make orange, and blue and yellow make green. They kneaded their dough until the color was uniform (they needed help with this part, as kneading can get tedious). (Science! Fine motor skills! )
Ben making a dessert with his play-doh. He called this strawberry-banana soup. (Imagination! Creativity!)
Tommy decided to make "dinner", so he made carrots with his orange dough, and negotiated some of his brother's green dough for peas. (More imagination! More fine motor skills!)
Then the boys decided to "have dinner". They brought out every little bowl they could find and filled it with dough and declared each bowl a unique type of food ("This is egg soup!"). In this picture Tommy is folding a "napkin" made out of paper. (Cooperation skills! Make believe!)
(Not pictured) - cleaning up the dough. After they were done playing, there was a big dough mess in the kitchen and dining room. So the boys cleaned up everything by themselves (I took care of the dishes). They got out their broom and dust-pan and sweeped everything up. (Life skills! Responsibility!)