This Christmas playdough activity incorporates lemon cypress branches and cuttings from silk poinsettias. The plant-themed playdough experience evolved from not being able to go on a well-loved field trip this Christmas season.
Most December months our preschool visits a local greenhouse. The children view a vast poinsettia display, smell a lemon cypress tree, participate in a scavenger hunt among cut Christmas trees, and go on a hayride. Then they plant a paperwhite bulb. The trip is always a highlight for preschool families.
This year the field trip wasn’t possible, so I decided to bring a small, feathery needled lemon cypress tree to preschool for the children to view, smell, and use in playdough activities. I wanted to include other seasonal plants as well but realized that most popular Christmas plants are somewhat toxic or poisonous to humans.
My preschoolers loved this playdough invitation, and your little ones will enjoy it too. Here are the instructions.
Make a favorite playdough recipe. Or use my go-to basic playdough recipe:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup salt
- 4 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons oil
Add the first three ingredients to a sturdy pot and mix them together.
Stir two tablespoons of oil into two cups of water.
Add the water and oil to the dry ingredients and combine.
Heat on the stove on medium heat.
Stirring frequently, cook until the mixture is no longer glossy and the dough forms a ball.
Place the dough on a cutting board.
Knead when cool, adding in one more tablespoon of oil.
Store the playdough in a sealed plastic bag.
A lemon jello playdough works beautifully too. Substitute lemon jello for cherry jello in the recipe.
The Christmas Playdough Experience
Show little learners a potted dwarf lemon cypress tree. This small, fine-textured evergreen is hand-trimmed to have a Christmas tree shape and is sold in pots at Christmas time.
Next, have your little charges rub a branch and experience the resulting lemon fragrance.
Give each child a lump of playdough, a few lemon cypress branches, and a pair of scissors.
Have them cut the bright yellow-green sprigs into pieces and add them to their playdough. Using the scissors to cut the playdough is fine for them to do too, as it strengthens their little fingers.
Then give little ones a few silk poinsettia leaves and bracts to cut and blend in.
Offer additional supplies such as rolling pins, plastic pie cutters, wooden sticks, and Christmas-themed cookie cutters and erasers.
When blended, the plant parts add pops of seasonal color to the playdough and give it a Christmassy look.
Tip: A coleus plant can be substituted for silk poinsettia leaves and bracts, as it isn’t poisonous. I plan to take one indoors to save for this activity next fall.
Other Ways To Experience Lemon Cypress Plants
Let your little learners use a mortar and pestle to grind and crush lemon cypress branches. A pleasant, citrus aroma will soon fill the air.
Or invite little ones to add Christmas decorations to the tiny tree.
Related: Santa Claus Playdough Tray
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© Annette Kaminsky December 19, 2021
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