In her Carbondale home, Cori Wright measures out the flour, salt and water. She adds food coloring and a drop of essential oil and mixes the modeling compound.
The lavender scent brings relaxation. Citrus smells are uplifting. Yellow is good for mental clarity. Shades of orange elicit feelings of joy and happiness.
Wright has made more than 400 bags of the dough, placing it on a wall outside her home for pickups and inviting children and parents to complete challenges she posts in a Facebook group.
“I just wanted to put a little normalcy in their lives, even if it’s just for 10 minutes,” said Wright, a paraprofessional in an autistic support classroom at Carbondale Area Elementary School. “The kids are really important for us to take care of right now.”
In the “Playdough Challenge” group, Wright posts videos, showing children how to write their names using the dough, construct tic-tac-toe boards or make a marble maze.
She then encourages parents to post photos of their children’s completed work. While promoting fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, Wright provides everyone with a needed distraction during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It gives me a purpose to get up and do it,” Wright said. “I feel like I’m actually helping. … I’m excited to do this each day.”
Angela Phillips stopped Thursday to pick up dough for her nephews. She and her 7-year-old daughter, Sophia, work on the challenges each day.
“It takes your mind off things,” Phillips said. “She really enjoys it.”
To join the group, visit www.facebook.com/groups/PlaydoughChallenge.
Sarah balances life as a reporter for The Times-Tribune and as the mom of two little girls. A graduate of Ithaca College, Sarah started covering education in 2006. She has received awards for her reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association, Inland Press Association and Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association. She lives in Clarks Summit with her husband, their daughters and their sweet pug, Sadie. Reach her at email@example.com, 570-348-9133 or @HofiusHallTT.