One of our favorite recipes at the Children’s Museum of South Dakota is for cloud dough. Not only is it fun to play with, but that mixing, molding, and squishing actually strengthens muscles in hands and fingers. Through improving dexterity in children, it prepares them for later tasks that require strength such as drawing and writing.
Cloud dough also supports cognitive development allowing children to express their ideas in a tangible way and by encouraging pretend play (such as baking), giving them the chance to practice real-world situations.
Using only two ingredients, cloud dough is quick to whip up and your child can help mix the ingredients together.
Cloud dough can be made in any quantity, but this recipe will make enough for one child.
- Add 3 cups of flour to a bowl.
- Slowly add in 1 tablespoon of baby oil and incorporate with your fingers.
- Continue to add baby oil one tablespoon at a time until the dough is moldable.
And that’s all there is to it!
Cloud dough can be molded with your hands or pressed into small cake tins to make fun shapes. Aside from being easy to make, cloud dough is also easy to store. In an airtight container, cloud dough can last months – and if the mixture starts to dry out, just add in a little more baby oil.
My favorite thing about cloud dough is how many variations the recipe allows for.
By adding 1 cup of baking soda to the mixture, you now have bubbling cloud dough: mold the dough with your hands and then add a few drops of vinegar and watch your creations fizzle. This fun science experiment can be used to illustrate cause and effect relationships to your little one.
To add a pop of color to this experiment, add some food coloring or liquid watercolor to the vinegar and watch colorful bubbles form as the vinegar and baking soda react.
You can also use seasonal cake mixes to add a fun twist to your sensory experiences. Instead of flour, use a box of your favorite cake mix. Our favorites at the museum are spice cake, for a fun fall scent, and confetti cake which is great for birthdays!
Many cake mixes are already moist enough that they are moldable without the addition of baby oil – and omitting the baby oil allows for this dough to be edible – a fun plus for both toddlers and parents of toddlers.
Whether your child is using baking tins to mold delicious treats or making a volcano that will bubble with vinegar, cloud dough will keep them busy for hours.