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Early childhood is for exploring, and some of the best experiences you can create are sensory activities. Kids learn by working with their hands: touching, tasting and wondering. The power of play can’t be underestimated as you engage their senses, including the magical sense of smell.
And while there are many complicated and costly sensory recipes available, I prefer to keep things as simple and natural as possible. A favorite at our home is this DIY Sensory Cloud Dough that incorporates essential oils.
Aromatherapy for Kids
Aromatherapy for kids is a balancing act of using essential oils safely, while also introducing the amazing benefits of plants and nature to developing minds. When you hold back essential oils from children out of fear, no one benefits. However, it is crucial that you use aromatherapy with children in a careful and mindful way.
Oftentimes, out of the box thinking provides the most beneficial and safe ways to introduce oils to kids. I’m an advocate that simple everyday ways of using oils can give children all the aromatic benefits (affecting the mood and atmosphere) without needing to worry as much about diluting or sensitization (that’s a topic for another day).
The confidence you’ll gain by introducing aromatherapy to your children in a simple, effective way will start to impact the whole family’s wellness, and as you learn, you’ll feel more comfortable using oils in more ways.
It’s important to note that children who are drawn to sensory activities may also be sensitive to the addition of smell in their play. Starting low and slow and gradually increasing amounts as needed is key. If your child is particularly sensitive, you may wish to start with just one drop of oil and gauge their response.
Step 1: Gather Ingredients
While some sensory DIYs are costly or complicated, Cloud Dough is incredibly simple! It can be very messy though, so be sure to prepare accordingly.
- Large Bowl
- Large Spoon
- 8 Cups of White Flour
- 1 Cup of Vegetable Oil
- 5-10 drops of Essential Oil (optional) – I used Stress Away (find it here)
- Large tub or sensory bin
This is a fun activity to do with your child if they enjoy pouring and stirring! I recommend doing it outside or putting down a tarp or towel that you can shake out afterward.
Step 2: Mix & Stir
Take your large bowl and pour 8 cups of flour. Add 1 cup of vegetable oil into the flour and stir well. If the consistency is not slightly formable, add a little more vegetable oil. You are looking for a fluffy, but mildly moldable formulation, and not a sticky or clay-like substance.
Looking for a playdough recipe? Check out Aromatherapy Playdough here.
Step 3: Pour Into Sensory Bin
Once you are happy with the cloud dough consistency, pour it into your sensory bin, tub or table. Smooth it out and you’re almost done!
Step 4: Add 5-10 Drops Essential Oil (optional)
This is also a great way to finish up the last few drops in an essential oil bottle. You can even put some flour into the bottle or leave the empty bottle in the dough for a few hours to soak up every last drop.
Little Hands Need to Explore
Cloud dough is fantastic on its own to sift, smooth and mold. However, you can also add sand or water toys, measuring cups and spoons, or sifters and funnels for additional exploration.
Some children may want to take the lead and find their own materials to play with. Sticks, rocks and leaves are popular additions!
As with any sensory experience, your role as the adult is to supervise and guide, but let the child explore and create. What looks like play to us is really their brain connecting, growing and learning!