How to make 2-ingredient Beach Scented Dough & “The Fisherman and His Wife”

The Fisherman and His Wife with fish bath appliqué and dough

An African Retelling of a Classic Story & 2-Ingredient Beach Scented Dough!

After reading Rachel Isadora’s retelling of The Brothers Grimm, “The Fisherman and His Wife”; we decided to whip up a batch of our favorite 2-ingredient, oh so soft and stretchy dough for some sensory fun. If you’re looking for a simple & inexpensive way to connect with your child and work on fine motor skills too, this one is for you. So let’s get started…

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Summary of “The Fisherman and His Wife”

The Fisherman and His Wife” by Rachel Isadora is an amazingly illustrated retelling of The Brothers Grimm classic about a fisherman who catches a magical fish. He is a kind man who wants for nothing and is happy with what he has, even though it is not much. Therefore, he obeys the request of the fish and lets him go. When his wife hears this, she is outraged. She sends him back to the magical fish; for it to grant a wish for her. After the first wish is so easily granted, she decides to keep making more and more elaborate wishes for more and more power. In the end, she rightfully ends up exactly where she began. The moral of the story, still holds true today… happiness lies within.

2-Ingredient Beach Scented Dough?

Bath appliqué fish kissing and laying on dough

You might be wondering… “What do you do with it?” or “How is this not just going to be a sensory mess?” There are many ways to answer these two common questions…

First, the most basic answer to “What you could do with 2-ingredient beach scented dough?” is… have fun. Sensory play at its finest is not about “doing” something specific. It is about exploring, feeling, listening, watching, problem solving, creating, etc… This is an open-ended activity. Just as each child has their own unique personality, experience, and preference in play, the outcome of this activity is just as special.

As for the second question, Yes, this could potentially get messy. But, I hear you. I’ve been asked that question many times. Therefore, a detailed answer, along with strategies for successful messy sensory play, can be found by reading, “What about the Sensory Mess?”

What We Did with the 2-Ingredient Beach Scented Dough…

We tend to keep the activities as simple as possible around here. We’re not interested in complicated or costly. We are also all about fostering independence. So, for this activity my daughter gathered the two ingredients: cornstarch & hair conditioner, and other materials. We used both “coconut” and “ocean mist” scented conditioner separately; which was fun to smell as they both went with the sea theme!

I think its important to include your child in the making process. Because I have done this for so long with my daughter (aka she’s had tons of practice); she’s really quite good at measuring, pouring, mixing, and now reading directions!

hands squeezing conditioner into measuring cup

But this all started when she was very young. I would let her pour even though I knew it wasn’t always going to make it into the bowl. She measured, even though she didn’t know what numbers or fractions were yet. I let her mix, even though I knew from experience that more often than not I was gonna get splattered with something lol. I kept my expectations in check and worked at keeping my cool. She built confidence in herself. And now she has a wonderful foundation of skills that help her when she’s cooking, baking, doing science experiments, etc…

hands kneading the 2-ingredient beach scented dough

Therefore, she made both the ocean mist and coconut 2-ingredient doughs. She measured, poured, mixed, kneaded and finally played with the dough! I was there with her. Sometimes I’m her assistant, lol. I work on letting go of control and letting her take the lead. She wanted to try a whisk to mix it; I had a sneaking suspicion it wasn’t going to work. But instead of discouraging it and telling her the outcome; I handed her a whisk. I allowed her to experiment and see for herself what works and what doesn’t.

A Simple Fine Motor Trick from an OT

I learned a very cool trick from an occupational therapist many years ago…to use bath appliqués with dough. 😮 Bath appliqués are the things you stick on the bottom of the tub so you don’t slip and fall. They come in cool shapes, usually fish, shells, ducks, or something like that. The best part? You can totally find them for $1. We found our translucent fish bath appliqués in a pack of 6 for $1, score!

How do you use bath appliqués with dough?

hands pressing the bath appliqué into the dough

You push the suction cup side down into the dough, press it, rub it, then lift! Once lifted you will should see little circles that are almost bubble like. I say “should” because when you’re using bath appliqués with this 2-ingredient super soft and stretchy dough; the more you hold it the softer and stretchier it gets. Therefore, if you have been holding it a while or you’re pressing a lot with warm hands, the dough might stick to the appliqué. Its okay, don’t panic, its NOT an epic fail, lol. Just try again.

hands lifting the bath appliqué from the dough

Remember, mistakes are learning experiences; and your child is watching how you respond to them. If you overreact and get upset, get discouraged and walk away, or take a breath and try again, will contribute to how they might respond to things not going their way also. I’m sure you might have noticed kids are like little mirrors; reflecting a lot of your behaviors back at you.

pointer finger poking the dough

Using bath appliqués with dough helps kids work on their fine motor skills (the muscles in their hands). They will be able to practice pointing, isolating their finger, strengthening and eye hand coordination. But most importantly, its fun. I’ll be honest; I couldn’t stop poking the bubbles lol. This is what I love about bookish play, it offers you so many opportunities to connect with your child.

As you can see in the photos, you can also use the other bumpy side of the bath appliqué to make imprints and feel a different texture on the dough. I would suggest making this easy 2-ingredient dough if you’re looking for a simple, not too messy, fun fine motor and sensory activity to connect with your child.

What Else We Did 😮

Sometimes an activity is just too fun and the wheels of creativity keep on turning. This was one of those times. As we were enjoying our 2-ingredient beach scented dough my daughter asked, “What if we froze it?”. I love these moments! Yes, what if we froze it? I replied. So we got out our fish (of course! lol) ice cube trays and pressed in some of the dough. We popped it into the freezer; and the next day this happened…

Messy hands in bowl with cups of goop lined up

What is that?!?! You might be wondering lol. Well, besides an awesomely fun mess; its what experimenting with our frozen fish dough turned into. How? First, we took the fish out of the freezer. They felt a bit chalky, hard and cold. We decided to grab a bowl of cold water and colored it with blue food coloring. Next we dipped a fish into the water to see what would happen; it turned the water from translucent to opaque (bonus science lesson!), and made the fish squishy and sticky. It was kind of cool; when you dipped the fish again your hands became clean and the fish got squishier and smaller.

bowl of blue water and frozen dough fish

The different textures and temperatures of the fish and water made for a very interesting sensory play experience. So, one by one we dipped the fish into the water until they dissolved completely. The water changed into a pretty cool looking blue and made it more of a fun challenge to find the fish before they were completely dissolved.

hands holding squishy frozen dough fish

Once there were no more fish left, we decided to keep going and added another box of cornstarch to the bowl. This of course turned it into goop (oobleck) sort of. I say sort of because it was different than typical goop. It was much more wet and able to run through the strainer quicker, it didn’t have much of that cool hold/melt ability, but it was so soft, cooling, and was a lot of messy fun.

Materials We Used

How to Make 2-Ingredient Beach Scented Dough

  1. Measure 2 cups of cornstarch.
  2. Pour the cornstarch into a large bowl.
  3. Measure 1 cup of hair conditioner.
  4. Pour the conditioner into the same large bowl.
  5. Mix the 2 ingredients with a spatula or spoon.
  6. Once mixed (when you can no longer see the conditioner)begin kneading it.
  7. Its ready to play!
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Wait, There’s More…

Sample of “Communicating & Connecting FREE Bonus Printable.

I believe you can easily strengthen communication skills and foster independence all while playing and connecting with your child. To help you do this; I’ve created a FREE printable for each activity called, “Communicating & Connecting”.

It will give you a list of suggestions I’ve found very helpful as a Mom & as a special education teacher; to help you build lifelong skills. Please don’t feel obligated to do everything on the list (but if you do, you’re a rockstar 😉 ).

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