Spring is in full bloom! We decided to try out salt dough! We made the dough and the spring shapes one day and then I baked them so they would be ready to paint the next class session. I recommend having more than one thing to bake the day you bake the salt dough. It does take quite a long time in the oven at a low temp. I think I made cookies and roasted some vegetables too! 🙂
We chose some fun bright spring like colors to paint the shapes and I must say they dried a bit faster than I expected. If you choose to you can poke a hole in the shape so it can be hung later. I found that the holes did close up a bit, so I used a sewing needle on one of them and that worked great.
I personally am not the biggest fan of projects in which young children use cookie cutters. I like for children to use their hands and tools to create unique interpretations of their own, however this project was one I just couldn’t pass up.
The dangers with using preformed shapes is that many times young minds will be influenced in a negative way by using them. Their perceptions of what they are capable of doing artistic wise becomes less confident because they compare everything they create to the perfect preformed shapes. I’ve observed this happening subtly through the years. It may not be obvious right away, but little by little children will start to compare their skill level to something that is artificial and perfect. Due to that reason, I rarely use preformed shapes and prefer to support fine motor development and pure creativity through a child’s abilities wherever they are on the developmental continuum. I like to support children’s growing abilities and interests with artistic tools and “found objects” from the Loose Parts and Intelligent Play Things theory. We use craft sticks, dominoes, buttons and scissors quite a bit. We have even used shells.
There was some salt dough left over that I did not bake, so we were able to try a sensory experiment comparing play dough to the salt dough. We found that the salt dough was really soft, pliable, gooey and when held in the air would slowly ooze down to the table. At times the dough would hold an impression like finger prints and so forth and as it warmed up the impressions would stay for shorter periods of time. Our play dough may be soft but it is not shiny and the salt dough was really shiny in comparison. 🙂
This child interpreted one of the times the salt dough oozed towards the table, as tights! They do look like tights! 🙂 I love the spontaneous and pure interpretations young children express freely and openly!
If you have tried using salt dough please let us know what things you made from it and how the dough turned out. We would love to know! 🙂
Heidi Scott, BA & MIT
The Marigold School of Early learning!