Quick play dough recipes

Play dough is always a favourite activity here at First Senses and we always get asked how we make our play dough. We’ve put this blog together to provide you with a few different recipes which are easy to make at home and they’re non-toxic too. Play dough is a fail safe activity to engage and excite those little hands. It’s a brilliant fine motor and sensory tool which is super easy to make.

Natural play dough recipe set up at First Senses classes.
Natural play dough recipe

By making it yourself you know exactly what has gone into your dough and remember you can customize in so many different ways such as glitter, colourings, scents and so much more. 

No-Cream of Tartar/No cook Play dough

Now this is a favourite here at First Senses. It makes a great dough which is silky and is never dry! This recipe also requires no cooking over heat at all and you should have the ingredients in your pantry. Easy!

What you will need

  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup of salt
  • ¾ cup of water
  • 3 tbsp of white vinegar or lemon juice
  • Food colouring or gel colours 

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together until your dough forms together. If you feel your dough is too sticky add a little more flour. Your dough shouldn’t be too dry and it should be easy to mould and have a soft feeling. Sometimes you may need to add a little water if you feel your dough may be a little too dry. The trick is when adding water to add a bit at a time. 

Quick, easy play dough recipes. Birthday cake play doyugh.
Quick, easy play dough recipe

Basic Dough

This is just a basic dough recipe which does require cooking on a low heat. This is a great for dough you might want to last a little longer.

What you will need

  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • ½ cup of salt
  • 2 tbsp of cream of tartar
  • 1 tbsp of oil
  • Liquid food colouring

Place all ingredients in a pan and place over a low heat. When the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and begins to form, remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Gluten Free Recipe

We know some children have allergies as well as adults too. Here you can find our gluten free play dough recipe which we have used in our sessions. It’s quick to make and super soft too.

What you will need:

  • ½ cup of rice flour
  • ½ cup of cornflour (gluten free)
  • ½ cup of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar 
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of water
  • Food colouring

Place all ingredients in a pan and place over a low heat. When the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and begins to form, remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Customise your dough

You can always customise your dough in many ways:

  • Add essential oils, flavours, herbs/spices
  • Glitter or sequins
  • Sand (which you will have seen at all our Under the Sea events)
  • Desiccated coconut
Chocolate happy birthday playdough
Chocolate birthday play dough

Check out our blog next week when we will discuss the benefits of playing with play dough and the wonderful learning opportunities it can provide for young children.

Remember it does take practice but hopefully you will find these recipes easy to make and have those ingredients already in your pantry.

How to Create an Affordable Mud Kitchen

How to Create an affordable mud kitchen

Here’s our ‘How To’ guide to help you create an affordable mud kitchen for your little ones.

Mud kitchens provide so much more than your average “soil digging” experience. A mud kitchen provides a variety of elements such as a much loved domestic and cooking area, all of which are enriched by purely being outside! Mud kitchens are great also because they can be used all year and in all weathers.

Remember they don’t need to be fancy or expensive. There is nothing simpler than creating a kitchen using old kitchen items from friends, family or even our local charity shops.

Choose the location

Firstly find a suitable location in your garden. It needs to have ample supply of basic materials such as sand, water and mud. Offering both sand and mud provides a great contrast in colour and texture which is great when they’re mixing those mud pies together. Being located near a sand pit/ mud patch may give the kitchen more meaning but even big pots of these materials are perfect too as long as they are floor level.

Mud kitchens which have walls/ fences provide the opportunity to hang your resources such as utensils/ hanging pots or just even having them on a shelf make it feel more like a kitchen and better to use. A cosy corner just creates a room like environment that feels safe. Research suggests this is good for creating dramatic play.

A water supply is essential but does not need to be in the kitchen or even close by. Children love nothing more than transporting water using a variety of containers. It’s important here to make sure you do provide a variety of containers (different shapes and sizes) and have a water source, such as an outdoor tap/hose/water butt or a large container of water.

Gravel, pebbles and other natural materials are also a great companion for making in your mud kitchens.

Plants are also an important part of a mud kitchen. These can be taken from anywhere as long as children have the permission to pick and gather.

Make sure the space feels comfortable for the amount of children who will be using the kitchen. Having space for several children to work alongside each other is ample. Large open plan kitchen areas may create more boisterous actions.

Enclosure from fences/walls can create a good mud kitchen feel.

Working surfaces are a crucial aspect of a mud kitchen. Remember to make sure these are the right height for the children and provide enough space work at.

Remember to consider where the old mixed material is going after use in the kitchen.

Fitting Out Your Kitchen

Fitting out your kitchen can be simply done by using old kitchen items from your own home. Make sure you have something that will be the cooker (using an old microwave) can be very effective provides children with buttons and the opportunity to open and close doors.

A good selection of pots and pans, jugs, funnels and bakeware. This will provide children with endless opportunities in their creations.

Plenty of bowls and containers such as jelly moulds/ice cube trays.

Enhancements suitable for occasions such as adding food colouring to water or essence to provide a new smells.

A big washing up bowl usually sunk into a work surface is a very helpful part of the play and great for washing their hands afterwards.

Keeping it safe and healthy

First foremost children must be kept safe whilst they have access to these important experiences. Our role is to ensure we manage their play safely.

Contact with soil is beneficial for children as the bacteria in it can help build healthy, functioning immune systems in young children.

Soil can however carry harmful pathogens and care to ensure contamination from cat/dog faeces is extremely important. Using a purchased loam topsoil rather than using soil from your backyard is beneficial and will reduce the risk. These can be purchased from any nursery/garden centre.

Handwashing is an essential aspect of playing in this way. Make sure this is established as a routine when initially setting up your mud kitchen.

Make sure children stay warm and comfortable as mud kitchen play is usually a wet experience. Having waterproof clothing for cooler weather and well in the warm weather its up to you.

Remember it doesn’t have to be expensive! Just have fun!

Written by Emma Weir

Welcome Sarah to the First Senses Team

We thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce Sarah our new Activity Session Leader who will be delivering our classes across the Northern Suburbs. Here’s just a bit of information about her and her background in Child Care.

Hi there, I’m Sarah.
​Born and bred Adelaidian I have over 8 years experience working with children and families within the child care sector. ​​My career journey began in 2009 volunteering at the Tafe SA Elizabeth Playgroup whilst working toward my Certificate III in Children’s services, which I obtained in 2010. I knew then that my passion lay within the early childhood industry and continued on my studies until I graduated with my Diploma of Children’s Service in 2011. ​​I have experience working with children from birth all the way through to kindergarten in various roles and have also participated in and gained my certificate in Brain Development and Neuroscience at The Lady Gowrie Children’s Centre. Throughout my years in the child care sector I developed a strong passion for sensory/messy play and nature play and would often plan many learning experiences around these areas, as I believe these types of play facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to create and investigate, which is essential for learning and development.​

During my time as a Qualified Early Child Care Educator I have also welcomed three beautiful children Aria, Oscar and Eddy. Like many children they also love playing and getting messy. They have helped me experiment with many aspects of messy play and given me plenty of new learning experiences not only as a parent but as an educator too.  Whilst on indefinite leave with my son Eddy  I came across the advertised role for First Senses and just could not believe my luck. The role encompassed everything I loved about working with children and families and fit in perfectly with the work, life, family balance I want to maintain. Crossing my fingers I applied for the role and I guess you can say the rest is history :)​Looking forward to meeting you all​.

5 Reasons why you should join a First Senses Messy Play Class

Have you always wondered why you should come and join one of our messy play classes? We’ve put together a list of the top 5 reasons why you should choose First Senses as your messy play experts.

  1. Enhance children’s learning and development All our activities during our sessions are planned in line with children’s developmental milestones and learning in mind. With over 12 years experience of working with children Emma is qualified to ensure our activities aid their learning. Sarah is also a qualified Early Years Educator with over 8 years of working in the sector (check out our About Me for more information).
  2. Sociable All our sessions encourage families and children to be social. Our sessions provide a fun, laid back atmosphere to allow children to learn and develop in a unstructured way. They are allowed to explore the materials through their own investigations. You can bring your friends, spend time with your family and meet other new families.
  3. Professional Did we mention our Emma holds a BA in Early Years as well as other relevant Early Childhood qualifications. Emma has held many positions in her career starting in childcare, kindergartens and heading into working with vulnerable families and children. Our sessions ensure children’s learning is nurtured in their own way.
  4. Affordable We aren’t just about making money. Our sessions were developed to be affordable to all families whilst offering high quality learning opportunities.
  5. You don’t have to clean up any of the mess at the end of the session! That’s right you just leave that clean up to us!

Gruffalo Messy Play – June 2017

Magical Mess June 2017

Well what can I say our first messy play session at Glenelg was an absolute blast and well we definitely made a mess! We had lots of activities on offer including unicorn poop, rainbow spaghetti, paint and so much more. I must say it took the longest time ever to clean up! It just shows the memories which were made and the fun that was had. Can I just thank all those who attended I really appreciate all your support and feedback.

Just look at these wonderful pictures….. if you have any please add them to our Facebook page


Are you ready for Magical Mess?

Are you ready for our first upcoming messy play sessions? We will be launching with our first magical mess sessions in June 2017. We are still awaiting the confirmation of dates, times and location but we will know shortly. Just keep following our Facebook page, Instagram page and our website for more information.

Sessions will be bookable online via our website and will cost just $15 for one adult and child and an additional $5 for an extra sibling. Numbers will be limited for these sessions and they are popular so please book your ticket once they are available.

Our sessions are fun, relaxed and inspire creative learning for children 6 months and above. Want to come and enjoy an session with your children getting messy then you’ve come to the right place.

We will be in touch shortly!



So its been a while since I have posted to the blog. Well a lot has happened since then, I have re-branded the business from Infant Massage by Emma to First Senses and we are now living in Adelaide Australia. I just wanted to say a G’day to all my new followers on Facebook and I’m looking forward to continuing the success I had over in the UK.

So things are moving a little slow at the moment, looking forward to all the official documentation coming through and finally getting out and about in the area. Don’t worry though I’ve been busy updating the site, adding content and also contacting local venues so watch this space for our future events.

Keep up to date with all our activities and follow us on Facebook simply search for First Senses Classes. If you’re an Instagramma well you can follow us too @firstsensesclassesadelaide. Its such a long name!

Thanks guys and speak soon.


Baby Week Leeds 2016

In Leeds we are hosting our very own Baby Week which has been created by Lucy Potter who is currently a Family Outreach Worker for a community project in Holbeck and Beeston. I have had the pleasure of knowing Lucy for a long time now as she was one of the Family Outreach Workers I used to manage when I worked for a children’s charity in Leeds.

So where did the idea for baby week come from?

Baby week is an adaptation of the Semana do Bebe in Brazil bringing together a wide range of services to support families in our city, provided by voluntary and statutory organisations.  Baby week will also provide a platform for the recent Best Start plan, a new policy being implemented throughout Leeds. Since October last year there has been a steering group with representatives from Leeds Beckett University, Child Friendly Leeds (Infant Massage by Emma has signed the pledge), Children Centre Services, Health Visitors, Social Workers, and Home -Start making this the first English speaking country to replicate Semana do Bebe.

The week has been designed to actively engage children and families in their own communities raising awareness of a baby’s important growth and development stages; both brain and physical.

Here at Infant Massage by Emma I have had the opportunity to be involved in the week by encouraging parents across the city to come and access my baby massage courses. I also had the opportunity to attend two lectures at Leeds Beckett University by Robin Balbernie in relation to ‘Relationships, Risks and Repair’ & ‘Circuits and Circumstances’. Such an inspiring lecture which demonstrated the important work our Children’s Centres in Leeds. I know I can be a tad biased on this subject (I manage a children’s centre in Leeds) but it really did show the importance of early intervention with infants and how supporting parents in those initial stages can have a significant impact upon a child’s development and their future. Robin reiterated how important it is that we keep our children’s centre to offer those universal services for all to ensure we can identify those families who may require extra support instead of trying to target families which in turn can have the opposite effect (they won’t engage with the service).

Why not check out the Baby Week Leeds 2016 website to see what fun activities are available for you to access.





Infant Massage Awareness Week 2016

So next week in the UK its Infant Massage Awareness Week 2016. I thought it would be a great idea to post some blogs and general posts about baby massage, benefits of attending classes and also there will be some special offers for this week only.

“Baby massage is a long-standing parenting tradition in many cultures, with numerous benefits for both baby and parent. Parents who have attended an IAIM course tell us that some of the many benefits can include:

  • Strengthening the bond with your baby
  • Relaxation for both parent and baby
  • Relief from wind, colic and constipation” (IAIM 2016)

The IAIM programme is one of the most well researched and endorsed programmes here in the UK, accredited by The Royal College of Midwives.

So why not come and join one of my courses and find out for yourselves the many benefits of baby massage.FB_IMG_1473623446113