Salt Dough Ornaments
Guest Authored By Sophia P L, OTR/L
Salt dough ornaments are a fun and functional activity that you can do with minimal ingredients! All you need is salt, flour, water… and voilá! You have a holiday decoration or gift that your child handmade.
Making a recipe with your child is a lovely way to address sensory processing, visual-motor, and executive functioning skills! Salt dough offers tactile and visual sensory exploration. It works on a variety of object manipulation skills including scooping, pouring, mixing, rolling, and force gradation! Additionally, it allows opportunities to practice sustained attention, planning, organizing, direction following, and safety awareness with your oven!
Here is what you will need:
- 1 cup salt
- 4 cups flour
- 1.5 cups water
- Measuring cups
- Parchment paper
- Cookie cutters
- Cookie sheet
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
- Add salt, flour, and water in bowl.
- Stir with spoon.
- Knead with hands for 3-5 minutes.
- Divide into 2-4 sections.
- Cover with parchment paper.
- Roll to about ½ inch thick.
- Cut with cookie cutters.
- Place on cookie sheet.
- Cook for 2-3 hours.
- Let cool.
- Paint as desired!
Here are some occupational therapy approved tips and tricks to target specific skills:
- Modeling – Demonstrate to your child ways to interact with different wet and sticky textures. Do not force them to play! Allow them to join in as they feel comfortable.
- Labeling – Describe what your child is doing, how it feels, and their reaction! For example, “You are kneading! It is sticky! You are having fun!”
- Heavy Work – Wet and sticky play exploration is alerting to a child’s sensory system. It may cause an increase in arousal. If you know your child has difficulty with tactile play exploration, build in some heavy work activities before and after. This can include: animal crawls, wheel barrow walks, yoga, pushing/pulling heavy items, and stacking heavy items!
- Grasp – Cooking allows children to utilize a variety of utensils (e.g. measuring cup, spoons) in which you can address hand strength and grasp patterns! Model an appropriate grasp and help your child re–adjust.
- Bilateral Coordination – There are many opportunities to work on bilateral coordination! Hold the flour or salt with one hand and scoop with the other (forearm supination/pronation!). Stabilize the bowl with one hand as you mix with the other (rotation!). Use two hands simultaneously to roll the dough!
- Force Gradation – Some signs that your child may experience difficulty with force gradation include: not understanding own strength, slamming doors/cabinets, breaking pencils/crayons, etc. You can work on force gradation in a variety of ways including rolling the dough and pushing cookie cutters to make designs!
- Planning/Organizing – Have your child assist with preparation process! Make a check-list with your child of the ingredients and materials you will need!
- Direction Following – Have your child read the directions aloud! When they finish a step, have them cross it out.
- Problem Solving – Ask your child a variety of open-ended questions to have them work on problem solving! Examples may include, “what do you need to stir?” or “where would we find the…?”
- Allow Mistakes – Mistakes are learning moments! If your child spills, take a moment to talk after-the-fact. Challenge them to think about what they could have done differently!
Eyas Landing is a therapy clinic with a mission to provide evidence-based and family-centered therapy services for children, adolescents, and their families. The primary goal is to deliver relationship-based interventions within the most natural environments and to empower families to reach their full potential. To achieve this goal, our highly educated, compassionate staff dedicates time and expertise to create experiences that maximize therapeutic outcomes. The strength, determination, and perseverance of our clients are evident as they succeed in therapy, and ultimately in their daily lives.
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