News from Youth Services Category: Sensory

Maker Monday: Cinnamon Playdough

This easy recipe creates a wonderfully spicy smelling playdough that will last weeks if kept in a sealed container.   

Playing with playdough helps with fine motor skills, hand strength, and creativity.  You can also use it to make letters and build letter recognition. You can add toothpicks, beads, dried pasta, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, and even feathers to allow for more creative play. 

Cinnamon Spice Edible Playdough recipe

Recipe from Not Just Cute with Amanda Morgan

Activity Center at North Suburban Special Recreation Association (NWSRA)

Families looking for virtual and screen free activities should check out NWSRA’s Activity Center! The September Virtual Programming schedule has been published, and includes programs for people of all ages with disabilities and different interests, like LEGO, music, and animals. The Activity Center also includes activities you can do on your own, many of which are screen free.

edible sensory dough

Here’s a recipe for edible sensory dough that only needs 3 ingredients and will smell and feel great! Kids and grown ups can make this together and experiment with coming up with just the right texture.

Three Ingredient Edible Sensory Dough


  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 1 (6 oz.) box strawberry Jello
  • 4 Tablespoons water (or more if desired)


In a large bowl mix together corn starch and Jello. 

Slowly add in water, one tablespoon at a time, until mixture comes together to form a dough. You can add more water or cornstarch if needed. 

If you make a thick dough, you may want to finish kneading it together by hand. 

Play and enjoy! 

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STEAM Saturday: Messy Outdoor Activities

The Artful Parent: Simple ways to fill your family's life with art and creativity book cover

The Artful Parent is a great resource for art activities appropriate for a wide range of ages, toddler through school age children. Check out the website or the book.

Warm days are the best time to try messy hands-on activities outdoors. Three favorite messy activities from the Artful Parent are making oobleck, melting ice, and playing with cloud dough.  


  • 1 ½ -2 cups corn starch 
  • 1 cup water 
  • Food coloring (optional) 

Directions: Mix the food coloring with the water and then stir in the cornstarch. As it dries out, more water can be added. Cups, bowls, spoons, and plastic washable toys are all fun to play with oobleck. For more ideas of what to do with oobleck, go to “Fun Things to do with Goop” from The Artful Parent. 

Melting Ice Experiment 

  • Ice 
  • Salt 
  • Food coloring or liquid watercolors 

Directions: Freeze water in different shaped containers, such as a muffin tin, cups, or bowls. Once frozen, run the containers under warm water to release the ice. Sprinkle a small amount of salt on the ice and observe what happens. As the ice melts, use liquid watercolors or food coloring and an eyedropper to color the ice.   

Cloud Dough

  • Flour  
  • Vegetable oil 

Directions: Pour the flour into a large container and slowly add the vegetable oil, mixing it until the flour is fluffy and holds together when pressed like wet sand. Add spoons, cups, and washable plastic animals. 

Get Outside with these Scavenger Hunts

magnifying glass magnifying a ladybug

Looking for a new outdoor activity to get your little one excited to get outside even on a hot day? Make some binoculars, print out a scavenger hunt, and follow your child on an adventure.   

Making this binocular craft helps kids practice fine motor skills. You can also talk about the five senses and how these will help focus on sight.  

Younger kids can walk around the neighborhood and look for items on this list from Nature Cat and PBS Kids.

bird eggs in a nest on a branch

For a more challenging hunt, try printing out this activity, creating a nature notebook, and taking a hike.

Kids will enjoy helping to read items on the scavenger hunt list and younger children will love marking out what is found. Follow your child’s pace and look carefully at what is around. Scavenger hunts work well both in parks and around the block.  

Once you have completed the activity, be sure to log it in your Beanstack account! These scavenger hunts could count for The Great Outdoor Hunt or the Get Outside activity badges. Have fun!

Family Friday: Cook Together

family preparing food in the kitchen

Cooking together as a family can be a learning and a bonding experience. Kids can practice following directions, the math of measuring, and the science of combining ingredients, all while learning about their family’s heritage or food from other cultures.

Gather your ingredients and get ready to add your special seasoning to your favorite dish. Need ideas? Check out a cookbook, website (such as RaddishKids), or the recipe database AtoZWorld Food.


Cook something together to earn the Family Time badge in the Summer Reading program. Just mark the activity in your Beanstack account!

Not registered for Summer Reading? Get started here!

For more information, visit our website. Questions? Call 847/253-5675 or email