Saturday, 17 September 2011

Things To Do With Your Child #8: Sensory Sandy Dough Stuff

I do have to ask myself why I always end up doing this sort of mess inducing activity a couple of hours before Richard is due home from work on a Friday afternoon:

Tough week at the office darling?  Never fear.  Step onto the oasis of calm and relaxation that is your home:

Today we will be making a sort of silky, crumbly, sandy sensory dough that I used to make when I taught Reception.  I think it's known as cloud dough, but that's a ludicrously fluffy name for something that spreads such a large proportion of filth throughout your house in such a short space of time.  Just take the above photo as a warning.  This is not an activity for the anally retentive.


You will need:


Baby Oil

An area of the house with no carpet in it. What are you still doing with a carpet in your house anyway?  Has your toddler taught you nothing?  I heartily recommend stripping it all out and coating everything with a big plastic sheet.  Actually, I've been thinking recently that a padded cell sounds quite pleasant; nice and cosy, child proof, nobody can hear you scream and all with the added bonus of being wipe clean.

Risk assessment:
Apart from not tasting nice if eaten, no major risk to health aside from mental disorders caused by the sight of it flying through the air in all directions and covering your soft furnishings.

Amount of time it wastes in the never ending day:
About an hour.

Put flour and baby oil in a large bowl.  You need 1 part baby oil to 8 parts flour.  I tend to use 4 mugs of flour to half a mug of baby oil, which makes plenty for one small person hell bent on grinding it into your cushion covers.  It's easy to make - chuck the two ingredients in the bowl and combine with your fingers (just like making a crumble topping) until it looks, as Nigella would say, "like damp sand".  You could do this with your child.  I didn't because we make an awful lot of apple crumbles and he's used to shovelling great handfuls of crumble mix into his mouth straight from the bowl.  Feel free to judge me now - I don't care, it keeps him quiet and stops him from engaging in his other favourite baking activity of smashing eggs from a great height.

This makes a crumbly dough that feels soft to touch, smells lovely and behaves like damp sand.  You can squidge it together (as demonstrated below by Mr Shark) and crumble it again.

We started off by making walls with ours and then knocking them down with the digger.

Then we did a bit of light sandcastle making with Rory's old stacking cups.

Then he dumped every available toy in the middle of it and scrabbled messily in it like a dog digging up a corpse while I sat and enjoyed the therapeutic effects of feeling sweet smelling silky sandy stuff squishing between my fingers, staring wistfully out of the window and remembering a time when I used to get paid for doing this sort of thing and my teaching assistant would clean up afterwards.  

All in all, a very nice time was had by both of us.  Rory liked how the dough changed shape and texture and used it in all sorts of games (mainly putting a couple of pirates and a happy land alien in the path of Thomas the Tank Engine and using him as a sort of murderous snow plough) and he joined with in the epic clean up operation afterwards with his dustpan and brush.  We would have continued to play with this for a bit longer, but the activity was brought to an abrupt halt when Rory (with delighted expression on his face) uttered the joyous words: "oh, I put some up my bum", sending me running upstairs for the baby wipes and emergency cotton bud.  That's the third time this week ladies and gentlemen.  The third time.


  1. Thats a good idea. It looks a bit like Moon Sand... but considerably cheaper!

  2. That looks like fun, I am trying to convince Laura to let me Parquet floor the living room, she is convinced Eva will brain herself when she falls over onto it. My simple solution would be the small investment in a walking helmet for her.

    I salute your commitment to Rory's sensory development but do you not think that a couple of bags of building sand from B&Q (about £3) poured into your now defunct baby bath would be less hassle.

  3. Ah, but where's the fun in that Caspah? ;-)

  4. PS Tell Laura that [parquet flooring is entirely necessary. The benefits will outweigh the the worries about cranial injuries, especially when E gets her first stomach bug.