Tired of the same old, same old in your sensory bin? Cloud dough is a great alternative to sand for your sensory bin. You can quickly and easily spice things up with this fun bakery sensory bin — without breaking the bank! Your little learners will love the feel of this super soft dough.
Bakery Sensory Bin
Did you know that your sensory bin doesn’t always have to be related to your theme? True story! Cloud dough can be used at any time during the school year. Just add a few supplies or tweaks to the recipe to change things up. Of course, a bakery sensory bin is perfect for a baking theme or a gingerbread theme too!
Cloud dough is super soft to the touch and can be molded just like moon sand or kinetic sand. The best thing about using cloud dough in your sensory bin is that it only has 2 ingredients! It’s super easy to whip up a batch of cloud dough to go along with your bakery theme.
If you have any questions about this whole sensory bin scene, you can learn everything there is to know about sensory bins here.
Benefits of Sensory Bins
If you’ve been an early childhood teacher for more than a hot minute then you know that your kids learn best when they’re touching and exploring things with their hands.
This is exactly why sensory bins are perfect for the little learners in your classroom! A sensory bin allows young children to explore, play, and discover without any set expectations. All you have to do is invite them to explore the materials in the bin.
Exploration and discovery naturally leads to pouring, scooping, and transferring. When they pour, scoop, and transfer, your kids are really being introduced to important academic skills like volume, weight, more and less, and let’s not forget those important fine motor skills. It’s similar to hiding vegetables in their macaroni and cheese, they have absolutely no idea they’re learning — they just think they’re playing!
Cloud Dough Recipe
You’re going to love how easy this cloud dough recipe is to make! It only has 2 ingredients and they’re items that you probably already have on hand in your kitchen. Oh, and did I mention that it’s taste safe too? Pinch me!
- 8 cups of flour
- 1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil
- Optional: sprinkles
You’ll probably want to double or even triple this recipe if you have one of those larger, commercial sensory tables. For the sprinkles, just use as many as you like, there is no set amount you have to use.
Start by measuring out your flour and dumping it into a big bowl, or you can dump it directly into your bin or sensory table. Add the oil to the flour and mix thoroughly.
Cloud Dough Troubleshooting
When all is said and done, your dough should be a dry and you should be able to mold it easily with your hands. You don’t want big clumps of flour, and you definitely don’t want your cloud dough to be sticky.
If your dough is too dry, add a little more oil. If your cloud dough is too wet, add a little more flour. This isn’t an exact science, it’s more like a science experiment. You need to be patient and understand that your dough may need a little tweaking to get to that “just right” texture.
I find that every time I make it, I need to make small adjustments to the recipe. I think this may be due to the different brands of flour and vegetable oil used.
Bakery Sensory Bin Supplies
Add some baking tools to your cloud dough sensory bin to enhance the sensory play experience for your kids. You can usually find all of the baking supplies and tools listed below at your local dollar store, but you can use whichever tools you prefer.
- Silicone Cupcake Liners
- Cookie Cutters
- Measuring Spoons
- Measuring Cups
You can check out my complete list of Sensory Bin Tools for Sensory Play here.
Bakery Sensory Bin Clean Up
Are you worried about the mess? Trust me, I get it! But with just a little creativity you can contain the mess while keeping all the fun and educational benefits of sensory bins in your classroom. I like to think of messes as “the cost of doing kid business.”
Here are just a few pro tips from teachers who’ve overcome the fear of sensory bin messes:
- Put a cheap dollar store tablecloth under your sensory bin
- Place your sensory bin directly on the floor, on top of the tablecloth
- Place your sensory bin on a tile floor if possible to make cleaning up easier
- Locate your sensory bin near a sink so kids can wash their hands before and after messy play
- Consider taking your sensory bin outdoors if possible
- Take time to introduce the rules of playing in the sensory bin to your students
- Model how to clean up any spills
- Place small hand brooms near your sensory bin to encourage sweeping up after play
- Provide your students with paint smocks to protect their clothing
The bottom line is that the educational benefits of sensory bin play far outweigh any messes that may occur.
Taste Safe Cloud Dough
Let’s talk about what “taste safe” means when it comes to sensory bins in the early childhood classroom. Taste safe doesn’t mean you encourage the children to eat the contents of the bin, you don’t even want to mention that it’s edible. What it really means is that if one of your kids gets overly curious and decides to give it a quick taste, they won’t be harmed.
If you have students with gluten sensitivities or allergies in your classroom, this sensory bin isn’t for you. You could try this recipe with rice flour, but I haven’t tried it myself.
Another question that’s often asked is how long a batch of cloud dough should last. Some teachers have reported that theirs is good for an entire month, others say just a week. It really just depends on how often it’s used and how many kids are using it. The more kids using that are using your sensory bin and touching the dough on a daily basis, the shorter the life span of the dough.
Since this cloud dough recipe is food based, you don’t want to keep it around and store it for too long because you’ll attract insects and rodents.