It’s that time of year again when the days are getting shorter, the weather is getting cooler, and more kids and families are looking for activities to get them out of their houses. Storytime is a great activity for these families to enjoy, particularly because it is a lot of fun AND teaches Early Literacy skills to parents and caregivers. Some Storytime sessions even include a fun craft or activity following the structured Storytime - I’m sure this is the case for many of you! These crafts and activities are excellent means of disseminating even more Early Literacy tips to our audiences.
For example, a fun, easy, and fairly inexpensive activity that builds hand strength is to make homemade play-dough. Not only is it non-toxic (and you know everything that goes into it), but you can make it into whatever color you (or your participants) would like. http://chemistry.about.com/cs/howtos/ht/koolaiddough.htm Making the play-dough is pretty straightforward - just mix all of the ingredients together. However, if you would like to add a little more science to the process, you can slow down and highlight elements of the mixing process.
An idea could be:
Put dry ingredients in a sizeable bowl and set aside.
Add the Kool-Aid mix to the boiling water.
Put oil in a clear plastic container that will hold both the water and the oil.
Add the Kool-Aid water to the oil - what do you think is going to happen?
Comment on what is happening as you watch the oil float to the top of the colored water.
When you are ready, add the liquid to the solid and start mixing with a wooden spoon. Invite the children to take turns mixing (or have several bowls out, depending on the size of the group).
When it is thoroughly mixed and cool enough, give some dough to each child to work with on his or her own (cookie cutters are a great addition to this project!)
Early Literacy Tip to Share: Working with materials such as play-dough help to build dexterity and strength in your child’s hands (not to mention - it’s fun!). These muscles are the same ones that your child will use to write. Providing opportunities like this will help to prepare your child to write as he or she gets older.
This is a fun and interactive activity for children and their families and has been a huge hit in my experience! A recommendation I have, should you decide to try it, is to have recipes prepared to take home as families will want to know how to make this on their own. Additionally, if you would like to deter children from eating the play-dough (although it is safe in case that happens) is to use food coloring instead of Kool-Aid. Use as many drops as you need to create the color you desire!