We are kickstarting our newly minted blog with a series of mint themed activities and recipes for the month of April. And first off, one of C’s favourite: a play dough kit.
Seeing how C picks up new things so quickly, we decided to introduce her to the beautiful world of colours. I did a quick search and found this article on when to teach what. Since C is not attending school at the moment, it provides a pretty useful guide on topics we can teach her at home. 18mo is pretty good time to teach about colours.
I put together a green theme play dough kit for C (green is her favourite colour now), with a mint dough, some applemint leaves that we harvested from our garden and an overdose of all things green. I wanted to keep it simple but providing enough variations of play.
To make a mint dough, you will need:
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup hot boiling water
- A few drops of peppermint essential oil OR 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint flavour
- Place all of the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Add the oil into the boiling water. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients.
- Mix the mixture with a wooden spoon.
- The dough may seem too sticky. Refrain from adding more flour and leave it to cool.
- Knead in* the colouring and EO/flavour until the dough is fully cooled, smooth and soft.
*I knead in the colouring and scent at the end because I want to control the shade of the colour and strength of smell. I started with a small amount and added more if I want a more intense shade or stronger scent. Alternatively you can always add into the boiling water and mix together.
It was set up as an “invitation to play” by accident because I forgot to keep the set after I laid it out for photo taking. The very next morning C was discovered it and kept herself pretty entertained while the adults got ready to leave for church.
She was amazed that she can pick up the dough with the ice cream stick and particularly interested in making holes in the dough.
She could also express actions related to play dough such as knead and roll, and enjoys pulling the doughs apart.
Benefits of PepperMint Essential Oil
The dough is scented by a few drops of peppermint EO. Even though I am not a fan of mint sweets and flavours (I find them a little to artificial or too strong), I find the peppermint scented dough pretty pleasant and rejuvenating.
Other than lavender, peppermint EO is one of the most versatile oils to use for almost everything. Some benefits include peppermint EO includes:
- Promotes focus by stimulating mental activity and clearing the mind
- Uplifts mood
- Clears and soothes respiratory tracct
- Relives headaches, stomachaches, muscle aches
- Soothes digestive issues
- Reduces fever
Precaution when using PepperMint Essential Oil
However there are also some sources that mention that peppermint oil should be avoided for children below 10. This is because peppermint EO is high in 1,8-cineole and can potentially slow down (or even stop) respiration in babies and young children. Besides peppermint EO, there is also a recommended list to be avoided.
Essential oils are highly concentrated versions of the said plants. For example, it takes 100kg of peppermint leaf to make 470ml of peppermint essential oil. To put it in even simpler terms, 1 drop of peppermint EO is equivalent to about 28 cups of peppermint tea. I am pretty sure you wouldn’t want your little humans to be drinking so much peppermint tea at one go. This is considered a large portion even fore adults. Caution for usage of peppermint EO also refers particularly to ingesting the EO, inhaling large doses via a diffuser, and undiluted topical application.
Why do I still use it? I am using an extremely diluted version in the dough after combining with all the other ingredients. We are not ingesting it, neither are we inhaling in large doses. And of course we also make sure she washes her hand after playing with the dough.
Peppermint oil is also said to reduce lactation for nursing mothers. For mothers who are breastfeeding, you might like to avoid usage, though effect will depend on individual.
Nonetheless, peppermint EO is still a widely used oil in our family as long as we exercise care and caution when using. An alternative to EO will be the peppermint flavouring for baking which also provides the smell dimension to your sensory play.