I love open ended activities that allow kids to explore and use their imaginations. This Nativity Playdough Invitation to Play does just that. It engages not only their senses but also their creativity.
While we have made several Christmas playdough invitations to play in past years such as the Peppermint Christmas Tree Playdough or Scented Gingerbread Playdough Station, this year, I wanted to focus more on the reason for the season even in our sensory play.
With this in mind, our holiday sensory play this season has focused around the nativity with Nativity Slime, a Nativity Sensory Bottle, simple Nativity Sensory Bag, and O Holy Night Sensory Bin. I wanted to share them to show that there are many possibilities to include the story of Jesus’ birth even in sensory play.
These play opportunities create the chance for kids to engage with more than one sense while reenforcing the true meaning of Christmas.
Nativity Playdough Recipe:
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 Tbsp. cream of tartar
- 1 Tbsp. oil
- brown food gel to make a light brown colour
- 1 cup water (boiling if making with KitchenAid)
- gold glitter
- optional: a few drops of essential oil in pine, orange, clove, or Frankincense*
*a note about scents: Certain scents are calming while others are alerting. If you intended this activity to be a calming one, be sure to choose a calming scent while if you are wanting to create an activity that keeps kids focused, use a more alerting scent.
Directions if you have a KitchenAid:
- Put dry ingredients in KitchenAid mixer.
- Add oil and the colour and begin mixing with the flat beater.
- As it is mixing on the lowest setting, add the boiling water.
- Add in the gold glitter. If you want to scent the playdough, add a few drops of essential oils. Mix until the playdough texture you want is achieved.
- Store in an airtight container or resealable bag when not in use.
Directions if you don’t have a Kitchenaid:
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a pot and stir in the oil, water and food colouring.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, being sure to scrape the sides and bottom.
- Cook until dough forms a ball. Remove from heat.
- Place it on a piece of wax paper. Knead. Add glitter in at this point and if desired, drops of essential oils for scent.
- Let cool. Store in an airtight container or in a resealable bag.
Nativity Playdough Invitation to Play:
- tray with separated compartments
- playdough (recipe above)
- Playmobil nativity set (or other children’s nativity set)
- small wooden blocks
- natural wood slices
- plastic animals
- Set the playdough in the center of the tray.
- Place the other items in the compartments around it.
- Invite your child to explore and play.
Sensory and Learning Opportunities:
Stretching, pulling, pressing, kneading, and pushing the playdough engages the proprioceptive sensory system.
Creating the scenes uses the tactile and visual sensory systems. If the playdough is scented, then the olfactory (smell) sensory system is also being used.
This Nativity Playdough pairs well with the Christmas story at home or in a Sunday School class. Students can listen to the story or read it themselves and then create their own manger scenes. Playing with playdough also lays foundation for concepts of engineering by allowing children to build and design something that solves a problem. In this case, the problem is how to create a manger scene or tell a story using the materials in front of them.
Set up a nativity learning center in your home, preschool, school, or Sunday school classroom. Include things such as:
- children’s nativity set
- crayons or markers and nativity colouring pages
- Nativity Slime
- Nativity Sensory Bag
- Nativity Sensory Bottle
- O Holy Night Sensory Bin
- costumes for kids to act out the Christmas story
- Christmas story books
- supplies to create Nativity Chalk Silhouettes
You’ll love these other holiday playdough ideas: