Pumpkin Spice Playdough
Pumpkin spice playdough is an excellent sensory playdough that you can make at home. My son loves this playdough because it has a lovely smell and texture. It helps excite and engage his imagination because it reminds him of when we baked gingerbread cookies together. Sometimes when he plays with it, he acts out making cookies by rolling them out, cutting cookie dough shapes, putting them in the oven and then decorating them.
Making playdough with children provides a great learning experience. In particular, it provides an excellent way to observe physical and chemical changes. With a physical change, matter changes form but not a physical identity. Mixing the four, salt and spices together is an example of physical change. Although the substance looks different, there is no reaction. A reaction is usually identified by the release or the absorption of heat, or the production of colour, light, odor, gas, or sound. When all the ingredients are mixed together, and then cooked on the stove, they absorb heat, which indicates a chemical reaction.
Pumpkin Spice Playdough Recipe
*This is for a medium batch- you can half it if you would like a small batch or double for a large batch.
- 2 Cups flour (Or gluten-free alternative)
- 1 Cup Salt
- 2 Tablespoons cream of tartar or 4 tablespoons white vinegar.
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 Tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice (or ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves).
- 2 Cups water
- Mixing bowl
- Large spoon (for mixing)
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Parchment paper/ wax paper or a silicone mat
Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. This is a great opportunity for children to learn about measurement. They can be helpers, using measuring cups and measuring spoons to measure and combine the ingredients.
Have your children mix the ingredients by stirring with a spoon and then squeezing with their hands as an extra fine motor skills / and strengthening exercise. Alternatively, you can mix the ingredients in the pot and then knead everything together at the end.
Put the mixture in a pot and stir continuously over medium/low heat until it forms into a ball. Children can help with this with adult supervision as it provides another opportunity to develop strength.
Then take the mixture off the heat and place it on a piece of parchment paper/silicone mat/board. When it has cooled down enough, it can be mixed and kneaded together until it is smooth.
*It is also possible to add the spices to the playdough after cooking it. It can be nice for children to add in spices to the already cooked playdough. If they want to make their own ‘pumpkin spice’ they can experiment with combining the different spices into the playdough to see how the scents change as they combine.
Questions to Ask
- How do you measure one cup? Show me…
- How does it change when you combine the ingredients?
- Can you get the ingredients back to the way were before mixing them? e.g. Can you ‘undo’ combining them?
- How does it feel when you squeeze it between your fingers?
- Tell me about what you are making…
What they get from it
Baking and cooking with children is a wonderful way for them to learn about maths and science. They can help with measuring out the ingredients to learn about measurement and scales. It is also a great way for children to observe both the physical and chemical changes that take place while making the playdough (see above for more details). It is a great sensory activity if children mix the ingredients with their hands.
Playing with playdough is a wonderful activity to help children develop fine motor skills, strength and movement. If you give children different objects to play with, they can use playdough in a wide range of ways.
Take it further
You may also want to see my Christmas Fine Motor Skills Activities post for related activities.