Rainbows aren’t just for St. Patrick’s Day, but they sure are fun!
This rainbow play dough may look great, but did you know it also has tons of educational benefits?
Yes! Play dough is full of opportunities for both learning and fun- it’s a great way to work on academic skills in a playful way.
Rainbow Play Dough
Rolling dough with a rolling pin is great exercise for the muscles in the palm of the hand. Children who have well-developed hand strength typically have less difficulty with handwriting later.
Cutting dough with plastic scissors is also excellent practice for exercising muscles in the hands needed for writing skills. Plastic scissors are best for play dough because the salt in the dough will rust metal scissor blades.
Rainbow Play Dough Recipe
This play dough provides the perfect opportunity for little hands to roll “snakes” or lengths of dough to create a rainbow. You could also discuss the lengths of the snakes to address measurement.
When children roll dough like this they are also exercising the muscles in the palms of their hands.
Here’s the recipe I used to make this play dough. I made small batches because I was making several different colors.
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 TBSP salt
- 1 TBSP cream of tartar
- 1 TBSP vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup water
- Wilton gel food coloring
How to Make Rainbow Play Dough
One thing I have found that makes a big difference in the texture of your play dough is to follow the directions very carefully. If the directions are followed carefully this dough is super smooth and soft which encourages little hands to squish and play.
First, mix the flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a pan. Then, add the water and oil and mix well. Next, add the Wilton gel food coloring and stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture starts to form a ball.
Remove from the pan and allow to cool. If your dough is too sticky, add some flour. If cooked too long your dough will not be soft and may crumble easily.
Don’t forget the pot of gold at the end of your rainbow! Rolling balls of yellow play dough to create gold coins or nuggets is another great way to build up the muscles in the palms of little hands.
I added a pair of tongs to pick up and transfer the gold nuggets to the pot for even more fine motor practice.
I saved the best for last! I named this little guy Lucky the Leprechaun- how original! I made him using a wood peg from the craft store and some Sharpies-easy peasy! I know; you don’t need to tell me, Lucky looks like the poster child for the Stranger Danger campaign, I think it’s because he’s not wearing a hat. Moving right along…
To create this activity, first, make a rainbow out of pipe cleaners. I just stuck some pipe cleaners into balls of play dough.
Next, give the child Lucky and have him move Lucky around the rainbow to look for gold as you use prepositional phrases. For example, you might say, “Lucky looked for the gold under the rainbow.” The child would move Lucky under the rainbow etc.
To practice expressive language, switch places with the child and you move Lucky as the child says the prepositional phrases, they love this part!
For small group play, give each child a leprechaun and have them act out the prepositional phrases with you. Hopefully you’re a better artist than I am.
Prepositional words such as in, on, beside, and under are included in most early learning standards.