Play Dough has been known for its therapeutic properties. The squishing and pounding, pinching and moulding provides a Kinesthetic/ kinaesthetic learning opportunity that can be used to enhance the development of mindfulness.
Over the next two posts, I will outline how to make your own play dough and ways of using the play dough in mindful practice.
Play Dough Recipe
- 2 cups/ 260 g flour
- 1 cup/ 130 g salt
- 1 cup/ 235 ml water
- Optional: food Colouring, essential oils or spices
Mix flour, salt and water together to form a dough. If the dough is too dry add a few drops of water. If the dough is too wet, add a little bit of flour.
Optional: once dough is formed add extras as desired; 2-3 drops of food colouring, 2-3 drops of essential oil or 1-2 teaspoons of fragrant spices.
Keep the dough covered when not in use as it will begin to air dry.
Calming essential oils: lavender, rose, chamomile, clary sage
Play Dough Meditation
- Set the scene by having all the children find a comfortable sitting position and put on some calming meditation music.
- Give each child a small ball of the play dough and instruct them NOT to play with it, roll it or squish it.
- Once everyone has their Play Doh, begin the meditation. Have them take three deep belly breaths.
- Instruct them to look at the Play Dough. Getting them to notice the urge to squeeze it.
- Is the Play Dough hot, warm or cold?
- How would you describe the colour of the Play Dough?
- Have the children move it from hand to hand. Does the shape change?
- Notice the smell of the Play Dough.
- Push a finger into the Play Dough. Can you see your finger print? What does it look like?
- Then instruct the children to continue to squeeze, roll and make into shapes. Remind them to concentrate only on the Play Dough, how it feels in their hands and the smell of dough.
- Complete the meditation by having the children take three deep, belly breaths.
Play Dough Mandala
The word, mandala, is from the classical Indian language of Sanskrit that means “circle”. The circle is the basis of a design that has intricate geometric shapes that draws attention to the centre and inspires quiet contemplation.
To make a mandala each child will require:
- A ball of Play Dough
- A selection of seeds, beans, flowers and shells to create the mandala
- Wax/Baking Paper
- Picture samples of Mandalas
How to Make a Play Dough Mandala:
Roll out the ball of dough so that it makes a circle on a piece of wax/baking paper.
- Using the selection of seeds, beans, flowers and shells, create a design by pushing the items into the dough. I suggest that they begin with the centre and slowly continue to create circular designs working your way outwards.
- When finished allow to air dry for 3-4 days or oven dry at a temperature of 200c for 10-15 minutes. Watch carefully, as the dough can sometimes begin to rise. If it does, remove from the oven, using a dry dish towel, lightly press down to flatten the mandala. Allow to cool and complete air drying if required.
- Once the mandala is dry, cover in a coating of Modge Podge or PVC glue to seal.
The mandalas can now be used as part of a Mandala Meditation.
Note: Younger children may not fully grasp the circular patterns of mandalas and the designs may be more chaotic. That is fine. It is their designs.
- Play a selection of meditation music for the length of time you want the children to meditate. Usually this is one minute per year of age, ie 6 years old= 6 minutes
- Children are to sit comfortably and take three deep belly breaths.
- They are to look at the mandala, focusing on the centre of the design while still breathing at a steady rate.
- Gently guide the children in a soft voice, letting them know it is ok for their gaze to wonder to other parts of the mandala, noticing the designs, colours and ways the lines meet each other. As the meditation comes towards the end, encourage them to focus back on the centre.
- In the last 30 seconds of the meditation, have the children close their eyes and get them to recreated the design in their mind, continuing even, steady breaths.
- Complete the meditation with three deep mindful belly breaths.
For more uses of Play Dough in Mindfulness, read Part 2 coming soon.