The newest addition to our family decided that she couldn’t wait any longer. She “came out” as N and M would say, seven weeks before her expected due date. With great joy we introduce K, our early bird.


Juggling life with four kids under 3.5 years was going to be tricky enough. Little did I know that we also had to add to that the challenges of a premature birth with Ks arrival. My parenting journey so far has taught me to “go with the flow”. Surprising things happen and there’s little gain in “trying to ski uphill” as my obstetrician so quaintly put it.

With little K in the NCIU, we had to figure out ways to keep N, M and E happily occupied within the small confines of a hospital room. Enter play dough. Thankfully I had made a batch of new play dough just a few nights before K decided to arrive. After trying a few play dough recipes, I am convinced this particular “original” cooked recipe is still the best. It’s got a great texture (not too sticky or dry) and importantly it has a ridiculously long shelf life (if kept in an airtight container).

The Original Cooked Playdough

Makes enough playdough to fill a 1L container.

  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1/2 cup Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Cream of Tartar
  • 1 tablespoon Cooking Oil
  • 1 cup Water
  • Combine all dry ingredients and mix.
  • Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix.
  • Place in a large pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until it forms a ball.
  • When the dough pulls away from the pan and the wet parts begin to look dry, take out the dough and knead it until smooth.
  • Once the dough has cooled, add food colouring, glitter, extracts, etc.

Here’s how we played with our play dough

Rolling Play Dough Balls
Great for hand strength, using both hands together and hand manipulation skills.

Cutting play dough using scissors.
Teaching kids the ‘thumbs up’ rule when using scissors makes it easier for them to learn how to use scissors.

Flatten play dough between two lids.
M came up with this idea. Great for hand strength, using both hands together and hand manipulation skills.

Placing match sticks into the play dough.
Great for hand and finger strength, hand manipulation skills and practising the pincer grip.
E came up with this. He made a birthday cake (with lots of candles) to welcome K into our family.

After playing with our play dough, we all went to visit little K in the NCIU.
K spent her first 18 days in hospital and is now home with us, much to our delight.

N & M: 3 years, 6 months.
E: 1 year, 5 months.
K: fresh out of the womb, under 1 month.

Lessons Learnt Journal

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About the author

Pauline Pauline & Lessons Learnt Journal is all about life with kids. Pauline is an Aussie mum and teacher who shares her love for play, math games, writing and reading activities. She believes that #playmatters, values curiosity & wonder, wisdom, obedience and respect. She also needs naps. When not blogging, she may be found virtually hoarding on Pinterest, trying to decide which Instagram filter to apply, or compulsively refreshing her Facebook feed.