As a sensory toy, play dough is also most magical. Sensory toys, toys that really trigger the senses, such as shaving cream, oobleck, or clay and play dough of all kinds, can calm an anxious person, focus a fidgety person, or soothe a distraught person, all through the simple acts of pulling and pounding and modeling.
When you combine play dough with certain essential oils, then, you can add to play dough’s sensory benefits and create a tool that can help bring about mental and emotional balance. Give a child lavender-infused play dough before bedtime, and he’ll relax as he plays. Give a child peppermint-infused play dough at breakfast, and she’ll be more alert and ready to meet the day.
Eucalyptus-infused play dough helps clear out stuffy noses. Mint-infused play dough helps calm down a queasy stomach.
Any conventional play dough recipe is suitable to make with an essential oil. I bake up at least one batch of my workhorse play dough recipe every week, but if you’re gluten-intolerant, Becky has some suggestions for a gluten-free play dough.
Of course, you must remember that essential oils are very powerful, and some people, especially children, can be sensitive to some oils. The oils that I use the most–peppermint, vanilla, pine, eucalyptus, lavender, and rosemary–are also oils that I use around the house daily, and so I know that my children aren’t sensitive to them. I do carefully introduce new essential oils to my children, I double-check that any oils that I plan to put into my play dough are not known skin irritants, and I’m mindful about possible sensitivities when I make batches of oil-infused play dough to share with children who are not my own.
The amount of essential oil that you add to any one batch of play dough is up to you, but remember that a little does go a long way. I add anywhere from six to twenty drops of any given oil to one batch of play dough, depending on how strong I’d like the smell to be and how powerful the oil is. Measure the drops into the measuring spoon that you’ll be using to measure the oil that the play dough calls for, then finish the measurement with that oil so that the total amount of oil in the play dough remains the same.
I am also incapable of coloring any play dough a color that doesn’t “fit” with the oil that I’ve added. Pine play dough MUST be green, of course. Peppermint play dough must be pink or red. Rosemary play dough is burgundy, in my opinion, vanilla play dough is white, of course, and lavender play dough? It’s lavender.
If nothing else, scented play dough adds even more fun to an already fun toy. However, I have seen my children calmed with lavender, and energized with peppermint, and made less stuffy with eucalyptus, and so I’m also happy to give them a toy that they enjoy, and that helps them to maintain their mental and emotional balance, and to just feel better.