Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories Infants and Toddlers Sculpture

Guest Post: Emily's Experience with Citrus Dough

One of my favorite things about working for The Carle is collaboratively shaping open-ended explorations with books and materials for the young learners and families we serve. Emily Prabhaker, our Museum Educator for Book-Centered Programming, and I, have been talking a lot about toddlers and preschoolers, and wondering together about new ways our work can serve their unique developmental interests and skills. 

Emily has been having a wonderful time lately, sharing picture books and exploring materials at a monthly toddler/preschool playgroup at the Worcester Family Partnership. This past month she and the families explored citrus dough made at home and the results were so fun that we asked her to share them here! Take it away Emily…

“Inspired by a recipe on The Imagination Tree for making dough scented and colored by jell-o packets, I set out to make lemon, lime, and orange dough. I found that the lime resulted in the most fragrant dough, and that I needed to add a bit of yellow food coloring to the lemon dough to make it as bright as I was hoping. The fragrance definitely fades over time but it really added to the experience. I think next time, I might add zest from actual lemons, limes, and oranges to give the dough more texture and natural scent.

We started with trays containing balls of each of the three doughs, cupcake liners, large stones, popsicle sticks, sea shells, pieces of jute ribbon, small colored bowls and fresh herbs. I had come with mint from my yard, and when I arrived found that the WFP had their own garden with parsley, basil, kale, and tomato leaves, which we happily added to the mix. The children dove in so quickly that I didn’t even have time to snap a picture of the set-up.

One toddler immediately began pressing the shells into balls of dough, and also experimenting with stuffing the dough into the shells.

Another child used a cupcake liner to contain a ball of dough and then started pressing various leaves into it, and then peeling them off to reveal leaf impressions.

This preschooler began shaping the dough into a “pastry” that incorporated some of the fresh basil leaves. She discovered that the popsicle stick made a good tool for shaping her pastry and rounding its edges.

Some of the children started playing bakery, while others were silently absorbed in their creations. This child used the popsicle stick to divide a slab of dough into slices. He was very excited to have created a big ball of dough by mixing all three doughs together.

Leaving the herbs on the stem opened up many possibilities. This child spent the entire time creating this elaborate tree from the materials available.

It was a joy to see the children going in so many different directions, some repurposing the cupcake liners as tiny bird nests and rolling up little eggs out of dough, or “bananas” on popsicle sticks, and some spending their time smelling and feeling the way the dough squished between their hands.

The time flew by and everyone passing by the room commented on how delicious the fresh herbs and citrusy doughs smelled! This is definitely an experience I’d like to try again with a group as well as at home with my own toddler. The doughs were simple to make and clean-up, and inspired so much engaged play. Just remember to add enough salt so that the dough doesn’t taste as good as it smells!”

Thanks Emily! This dough exploration will definitely inspire one of my upcoming sessions of Materials Play for Toddlers. The next series, Fridays, October 17, through November 7th, 2014, runs here in the Art Studio at The Carle from 10:00-10:30 am. Materials Play for Toddlers is free with Museum admission and does not require registration. Just drop in when you can!

Now I hope you will share. What has been your toddler or preschooler’s favorite way to play and imaging with dough?

Making Art with Children is generously sponsored by the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority.