I love baking. Always have. When I was tiny I used to use cups and pots of water as ‘ingredients’ and mix them together. I knew what I was making, even if it was just, well, water. I also loved play dough for the same reason. I loved kneading it as if it were bread and cutting it like biscuits. I also loved the smell of the shop bought stuff. I still like playing with play dough now. I find it rather relaxing and The Boy seems to like it too, even if it is in rather short bursts.
I have to admit I’ve only had limited success with making my own play dough. I found one of the hundreds of recipes on the internet, bought a hundred weight of salt, I even bought food colouring to make it a bit more exciting. What I made was a difficult to work with lump, the colour of surgical stockings. Not my finest hour. I was so annoyed. The Boy played with it once then it went in the bin. After that I bought him the commercial stuff that smells that special sort of scent (what is that smell?). It’s lasted really well, nearly a year in fact, but I’m something of a playdoh fascist when he plays with it. I don’t allowing him much freedom to squidge things in to it, or to mix dissimilar colours together and from a toddlers point of view where’s the fun in that?
This week, we’ve been to two groups run by the Tennyson Centre in Haslemere. Play dough was provided in each location and it’s been something of a revelation to us. The first lot was at Oscar’s Chatterbox session and was provided in conjunction with the story of the Gingerbread Man. While Oscar was in no way interested in the story, he was eventually drawn to the dough. Kate, our wonderful play worker, had provided little bags of dough and gingerbread man themed activity sheets for the children to make dough eyes and buttons etc to take home. So Wednesday afternoon found us playing with this silky smooth, custard powder scented dough. I eschewed the shop bought stuff and left the plastic cutters in their box. We made use of kitchen utensils and he loved it.
I then decided to try the toddler group at High Lane Community Centre on Thursday. It’s quite a small group and really activity focussed. We’ve been once before but I’ve not been back, after embarrasing myself by swearing, loudly, when Oscar nutted me in the eye. Ho hum. Anyway, I reckoned enough time had passed that people wouldn’t remember, so we gave it another go. All in all it was a sucessful trip. Oscar played with everything provided, at least once. But the thing he went back to again and again (along with the wooden cutting cake – that’s my boy) was the play dough. Again it was silky and sweetly scented, but this time came with all manner of ‘things’ to push into it, including lolly sticks, glitter and shaving foam. Well, he started small, with just glitter and more and more dough, but before long he’d moved on to plastic money, shaving foam, lolly sticks and wooden vegetables. He was so proud of his creation and I have to say, so was I. It was a beaut!
Suddenly the shop bought, single coloured, strongly scented lumps I give him, seemed so very dull. This was a masterpiece. It was multi layered, exciting and unpredictable. It was him to a tee. It made me realise it’s not about how it looks at the end, it’s the fun he has along the way that matters. We as adults are so results driven in our lives. It’s how we work, it’s how we keep our jobs! But the outcome to children is kind of neither here nor there. It’s something I’ve been realising for a while now. The journey is more important that the destination – sound familiar 😉
There’s a recipe on the back of the activity sheet we were given. I’m going to have a crack at making my own again. And invest in some glitter.