All that fun began on a whim this past Saturday afternoon. I was clearing out the fridge and out came the box of cloud dough that Pari and her friends had played with more than couple of months back. I’d put all of it in an air tight box in the regrigerator. Must say it was a neat idea for the cloud dough was perfectly fine even after so long.
I asked Pari if she’d like to play and offered her some food colour to make coloured cloud dough. This random turned into an elaborate play that lasted two days at a stretch!
Read on to know the whole story…
Making Coloured Cloud Dough
To begin with, I gave her some red liquid food colour. But, we quickly figured out that liquid food colour won’t work. The liquid wouldn’t gel with all that oil in the cloud dough.
So, I fetched the red, orange and green powdered food colour and she was on a sensory spree….
Not only did she colour the old cloud dough in various colours by diving the whole batch into small portions.
But, she went on to *create a fresh batch so she could make some chocolate cloud dough (by mixing cocoa) and some lemon yellow cloud dough by mixing turmeric powder. [* to make basic cloud dough add 1/2 cup oil (baby oil/olive oil or even refined oil to 4 cups flour (maida)]
An Ice-Cream Parlour in the Making…
Yes, you got it, by this time, she’d decided to make a whole range of ice-creams to represent different flavours – strawberry+rose, orange, mango, chocolate and Pistachio!
Once she was done with the cloud dough, she went in quietly inside her room to set up her ice cream parlour.
I was in the kitchen during this time.
After a while, my mom (she’s here with us these days) comes and tells me that Pari has cleaned up her room like no one’s business; has converted her table into a beautiful setting for the parlour and has even painted the chalk board with names, menu, art and other things to make her ‘shop’ attractive.
I was curious to take a peek. The moment I stepped at her room door, she shut it close saying she wants to surprise me later on when I would come to her ice cream parlour as a customer.
In the meantime, she was doing some last minute decorations.
She asked me where could she find some flowers. Ever -enthusiastic that I am for such playful endeavours, I rushed to the store room in the middle of cooking, to dig out some old plastic flowers. She cleaned them up under the tap, dried with a few jerky shakes of her wrist and put them into one of her painted glass bottles.
Knick Knacks for the Ice Cream Parlour
My cooking job and facilitating stuff for her ice cream parlour was happening simultaneously. I gave her some glass bowls and some colourful spoons. We also cut out a cadbury choclolate box cover to use as a name plate of sorts.
Then, we had lunch and got ready to pretend play…
We the customers are in for a pleasant surprise!
As I enter her room, err… her ice-cream parlour, my jaws dropped!
Her room, which was messy when I’d last seen, was all spick and span and inviting! I had no idea where she managed to ‘hide’ the books, toys, pencils and pens that were lying all around. But, that didn’t matter…
I was so impressed with the quick revamp that she’d achieved and had set up this space for her ice cream parlour – all by herself!
The pretend play was elaborate, I must tell you – both on her part as well as ours.
And you can see, why….
- She explained the whole process of making ice creams from natural ingredients (that was a story of-course!)
- She helped us see the textures in her pink ice cream and explained how the crushed rose petals that she uses in her recipe lends this texture and colour.
- She went on to add that her parlour is eco-friendly as her refrigerator is built in a way that it uses very less energy to cool the inside. Brilliant, I must say! I’d like such a refrigerator, too.
- Our innovative ice cream parlour owner made my mom comfortable on her lounge. She didn’t forget to add that she has that lounge specially for her elderly customers.
- I asked her if she would introduce new flavours in the coming days. And, she took out a notepad to jot down what flavours would I like. I mentioned – blackcurrent and blue berry.
- She told us that if we’d like to come the next day, she would add shakes and pastries to her menu.
So, we feel very tempted to visit the next day, too.
The next day, true to her words, she had planned out an elaborate menu, which she called “a feast”!
There were ice-cream shakes, colourful desserts in the shape of eggs, muffins and more!
Do we still think that play is separate from learning?
Will we still doubt the value of play?
I can bet, I won’t. I’m absosultely convinced that children learn by playing.
And, we don’t need to direct their play.
Sure, we would do great to provide interesting things to make their play more fun, imaginative and creative.
We can and must participate in their play.
We can become child-like and share their enthusiasm.
But, not direct.
And, I’d always keep in mind that children make sense of the world around them through play and through sensory experiences – by touching, feeling, smelling, tasting…
Do you play with your children? What kind of play is your child’s favourite – outdoor play, sensory play, water play, sand play, board games, tag games? Or, anything else?
Here are some more ways to play with cloud dough: