Sensory Systems and Playdough

Sensory Processing and Helping that with Scented Playdough


Why do I love scented playdough?
Finding a great product to assist your kids build olfactory (smell) sensory resilience to natural fruit or vegetable smells is not easy – other than via the actual fruits and vegetables.  Some children find that sensory overload from the tactile response to “wet” fruits and vegetables means they have limited interactions with them.  To encourage smelling natural scents (including fruits and vegetables) in a positive and non-pressured way is therfore a touch harder (pardon the pun). As with everything, building familiarity with smells is reliant on repeated, neutral exposure.  Playdough is inherently non-pressured and fun.  If playdough is still difficult from a tactile response, using a cutter and a rolling pin is a good stepping stone toward full hand contact and play.


I love this YouTube clip that explains how different senses have different thresholds for each person.  It is told from the view of a boy, Neil, who has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).  He outlines the 7 sensory systems that all humans have and what it’s like to have over-responsive or under-responsive sensory systems.  He has the perfect analogy to help you think about your child’s own sensory cups!

Each child’s cup varies in size – it’s only SPD if it is medically diagnosed as impacting your functioning throughout your daily life.  So, I know that with myself and my children, we all have very different thresholds for our sensory processing.  I have a small cup when it comes to auditory processing – I hate balloons popping!  Whereas, my youngest daughter relishes the opportunities to eat noisy foods and sing at the top of her lungs outside on the trampoline.  My oldest daughter re-sets marvellously by getting some big vestibular system inputs.  This is why the downward dog yoga pose works well for her when we get ready to eat.  If dinner starts to go pear-shaped, I will do some star-jumps with her to get some proprioceptive input and then swing her upside down for vestibular input.

Amalie summed it up perfectly in her recipe here for lemon scented playdough when she said:

Sensory experiences such as Play Dough allow children to develop their senses and emotional development.  It helps children to regulate their moods.  Sensory play builds nerve connections in the brain’s pathways which lead to the child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks.

Therefore, a great activity for you to consider adding to your bag of tricks is to have some scented playdough at the ready before mealtimes.

Disclosure: I was thrilled to buy naturally scented playdough online from a wonderful business mumma, Emma. I bought the kit that included the cutter, rolling pin, 2 jars of playdough and the board.  Happy Hands Happy Heart produce a range of all natural scented playdoughs.  Their playdoughs are created using fruits/ vegetables/ herbs and spices, to create gorgeous colours, and each ‘flavour’ is scented to enhance the feeling of calm and well being.

Happy Hands Happy Heart are super passionate about encouraging calm creative play, in a natural and sustainable way. – Emma, Owner of Happy Hands Happy Heart

Please let me know your thoughts!

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