I’m always thinking about different ways to inspire creative thinking when it comes to creating with play dough. Given that my children love to look at birthday cake cookbooks we decided to combine the two – play dough and cake cookbooks turns out to be a pretty awesome combination.

First things first, my older children each selected a cake they would like to have a go at making with play dough. My daughter chose a Dolly Varden cake and my son chose a pool cake. Then we set about gathering some supplies from our art cupboard.

Our creations were an excellent example of creativity at its best. We started with lots of brainstorming as we discussed possibilities to turn their vision into a reality. Then there was lots of problem solving, exploring as well as learning through trial and error throughout the creation process.

Eventually we ended up with some core materials for our set up.

For the pool play dough creation my son chose four  colours of play dough and wanted a small container to use as a base for his pool. He also selected some bits and pieces from one of our small world play collections (flowers, plastic trees and an umbrella)

For the dolly varden play dough creation my daughter selected coloured play dough, an assortment of ribbons, buttons, sequins, flowers, gems and pieces of lace. My daughter was also keen to replicate the wand in the photo and decided on some gold sparkly pipe cleaners for this. After a few attempts at creating the skirts for the dolly varden dolls (we tried making cone shapes out of thick cardboard) we found the best solution was a packet of party hats we had. I cut a small section off the top of some hats (just large enough to place some dolls in). The party hat as well as the top of the doll became the canvas to work with.

Once we had all the materials sorted it was time to create.

To make the dolly varden play dough creations we found the easiest and most successful way to do this (after several not so flash attempts) was to undo the party hats and lay them flat. Then place  some play dough on the hat and use a rolling pin to spread it over the hat. My daughter enjoyed creating patterns in her play dough and used lace to do this.

Using textured  materials such as lace are a fun way for children to experiment with making patterns in play dough.

Once the play dough covered the skirt, it was then a matter of wrapping it around the doll and securing it (we used masking tape to hold the skirt in its place).

Another way to add texture to the play dough is to use patterned rolling pins which created the effect below.

Once the skirts had been created, the fun part of decoarting the skirts began. Here is where children can let their imaginations run wild – feathers, gems, create hats to complete the look, the possibilities are endless.

Two completed creations:

My son worked hard making play dough snakes for his pool. He asked for some help to attach them to his container to create his pool.

The finished play dough pool creation:

Since these first creations using birthday cake cookbooks as sources of inspiration, there have been many times that our cookbooks have come out while creating with play dough.

Another favourite has been the play dough fairy house.

Cookbooks can come in very handy at the play dough table and are guaranteed to get the creative juices flowing and some unique creations made.