Cloud Dough


Let’s be honest: the giggles and joy are so worth it when we break out a big tray of flour and let our toddlers go wild, but as a parent, you have to psych yourself up for it… Am I right? Flour is going to fly up in the air, flour dust is going to get everywhere, and you’re probably going to wind up mopping the floor.

Solution? Baby oil! Flour + baby oil results in a fantastic mixture that is as fluffy as a cloud, but sticks together in your hands when you squeeze it. This not only means you introduce novelty to your child’s flour play, but clean-up is much easier. I’m not saying you won’t get messy, just that clumps are easier to clean than flour dust!

So this game is totally worth the effort. In a bowl or tray, combine about 2 cups flour and 1/4 cup baby oil. Travis of course had to help, as soon as he saw me break out the measuring cups.


Knead the mixture until you have something that is fluffy and light, but sticks together when pressed, adding more oil if needed.

At first Travis just wanted to sprinkle the mixture all around, but I soon showed him we could shape it into “snowballs.” He was fascinated, and his favorite thing to do was use a car to smash the snowballs, which went on for some time.


Then, to experiment with the mixture’s other texture possibilities we made it “snow” down on the cars softly.


He also loved pressing the mixture until it was very firm in the bottom of the pan, at which point you can make hand prints…


or roll toy cars across for tire tracks.


From a purely sensory point of view, the mixture feels fantastic, almost therapeutic – so parents, dive right in there and get your hands messy!


Fishing for Letters


When I considered whether or not to play this game, I thought it might be too simple for Travis at this stage… but he adored it!

To set up, I put all of our magnetic alphabets in a bowl. You could also use foam puzzle letters. He instantly wanted to know what I was doing, and followed me around the apartment while I gathered the rest of the supplies – a towel to cover the floor, a second bowl, and a slotted spoon.


I added water to the bowl with the magnets, and this bowl and the empty bowl in front of Travis and asked him if he could transfer the letters with the slotted spoon. He didn’t hesitate a moment.


At first, he was simply so excited with the mechanics of the slotted spoon (i.e. that the water trickled out but the alphabet letters stayed on) that he couldn’t concentrate on the letters at all. The letters went back and forth several times this way.


Then he wanted to move the letters with his hands (have a dry shirt ready and waiting for when the game is done, because sleeves are likely to get wet!).


Eventually, the initial excitement wore off and he began transferring the letters more deliberately and slowly, telling me which one he was holding, which had been my ultimate goal for this project.

Perhaps because of our Letter of the Week play, I haven’t concentrated on the full alphabet in a long time, so this was a great refresher course to make sure Travis remembers all his letters, whether in order or out of order. I was ultimately so glad I selected this as a project for our morning.

Once he tired of transferring letters, Travis asked if he could have the buckets without water, so we drained what was left, and he proudly carried his bucket of letters into the living room and continued to play with them for some time, making alphabet soup and telling me he was setting up a bakery.


In sum, this was a great morning game that involved almost no forethought or special equipment, provided both tactile and educational learning, and couldn’t be easier to set up or clean up.