ToolBox -

November 5th, 2011

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The child will form letters of their name using playdough.


The child will learn to spell their name.

Required materials:

  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup cream of tartar
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 tsp. cooking oil
  • a crockpot
  • a sealable container
  • a written model of the child’s name


The child and adult will make the playdough as follow:

  • Plug in your crockpot and turn to low to warm up slowly.
  • Dump in your dry ingredients, stirring to evenly distribute.
  • Add the water and oil. Close the lid and switch the heat to high.
  • Set a timer and check your playdough every 30 minutes, stirring well each time. Our playdough took a little under 2 hours to make.

You will know it’s done or close to done when the playdough begins to form a ball when you stir it.

When that happens, remove the stoneware insert from your crockpot and stir some more. Dump it out onto a smooth surface and begin to knead—-be careful—- it’s going to be hot. If your dough is overly sticky, add a bit of cornstarch; if overly dry, add a touch more hot water. Each time you make the dough, the water required will be a bit different, depending on the humidity in the air.

Separate the dough into manageable lumps and push a hole into the center for a few drops of food coloring–let the kids squish the dough around to distribute the desired color. Their hands will be a bit colored for a few hours…

Note: In order for everybody to see clearly and to “help”–I spread a vinyl tablecloth on the floor and used a mini-extension cord for the crockpot. This recipe makes enough dough for 4-5 children to play with at a time. Store in a ziplock bag or a tightly sealed plastic container. If stored properly, the dough will last 3-4 months.

Since a lot of children have very specified color aversions or favorite color, allow the child to choose what color to make the playdough. To enhance sensory integration, various other ingredients may be included such as kool aid or essential oils for smell, sand for tactile, etc.

Provide the child with an opportunity to explore using the playdough. A visual timer may be useful.

The adult will have provided a written model of the child’s name to use as a reference. The adult will demonstrate how to roll the playdough into “snakes/worms” and use to form the letters of the child’s name. Be sure to say the letter each time it is created.

The child will form little balls of playdough. Then they will roll each ball into a “snake/worm” shape. The child will form each letter of their name using the written reference as a guide. The adult will encourage the child using lots of oral communication, verbal and physical prompting, and gestures.

As an extension or reward, the child may be given time to explore using letter cookie cutter shapes.

When to use:

Preparing the child with skills for school readiness


Stephanie O’Dea –

Submitted by:

Dr. Melody Southard