The first few times we brought it out Saskia seemed most interested with feeding the dough through the gaps in the balcony railings (I just took deep breaths). Slowly, over a few sessions, she started exploring with rolling, squashing, and breaking the dough into pieces. The cookie cutters (staaaaar and 'art) fascinated her.
I used this recipe and coloured the dough using natural dyes. For each batch I boiled 1 cup of water with a good sized handful of blueberries/2 medium heads of beetroot/2 teaspoons of turmeric (seen left to right in the first photo). I let each potion simmer on the stove for 20 minutes or until it had reduced by half. I left one ball of dough undyed and made this mix with wholemeal flour - such a beautiful texture. A few drops of essential oils (I used lemon and lavender) add to the sensory experience.
If I'm honest, one of the things I am most excited about as a parent is providing art activities for my children. Having worked in early childhood education, with a focus on visual arts, I have worked with some highly talented educators and beautiful souls, and I know I will be forever inspired by them. I've also read a lot of literature about childhood art education, and now having my own child, seeing so intimately the developmental stages and changes, there is a relevance and a deeper understanding.
If you were to ask me what I have learned about children and art play from my experience, my conversations with colleagues and teachers, and readings, I would tell you I have come to understand three key points: the value of quality materials, thoughtful, considered presentation and the luxury of time (unhurried, not specified, revisiting). There's nothing revolutionary there really, but there needn't be. It can just be as simple as that.