I've been going through a bit of a homemade lemonade phase recently, it's the perfect drink for this scorching hot weather we've been having - ice cold, refreshing, sweet, sour and just a tiny bit salty. I'm addicted. And Poppet has been avidly watching me squeeze lemon after lemon in our lemon squeezer, pleading to have a go. Helping me pour it through the sieve. Picking out stray pips. Mixing in the sugar. She loves the whole process (and the end result even more!).
To let her have a go at making it herself without running the risk of squirting herself in the eye with lemon juice (been there, done that), I set up an invitation to play using playdough lemons and my lemonade making equipment. We scented the playdough using lemon essence so it releases a lovely lemony smell as you play with it.
We made a batch of 4 minute no-cook playdough together using this recipe, adding yellow food colouring and lemon essence to the boiling water. And adding more food colouring and lemon essence at the kneading stage too as it wasn't quite lemony enough. It would have been good to add some lemon zest to it as well but I didn't think of it at the time. It was particularly good playdough, really soft and mouldable. If you haven't tried making playdough yet I would urge you to give it a go, it's 100 times better than the shop bought stuff. Although the colours sometimes aren't as vivid, you can play about with scents and textures which makes it more than worth it.
I moulded it into lemon-like shapes and put them into a bowl along with a real lemon so she would get the idea. I also put other lemonade-making paraphernalia on the tray - juicers, a jug, cups, straws, a little sieve and a knife.
First she tried to cut the real lemon but soon transferred her attention to the playdough ones and got into the swing of it. She loved the lemon squeezer and the playdough was so soft it oozed out in long strands really easily. This was a good activity for strengthening up her hand muscles which helps get them ready for pencil control later on. This is a really great post on all the benefits of playing with playdough.
She loved cutting up all the lemons and then squishing them through the squeezer, collecting the long strands in her jug to make her 'lemonade'.
She also liked pressing the lemon halves into the lemon juicer and seeing the imprints it left behind on the playdough. Afterwards she had some more fun with making imprints using her magnetic letter set, pressing the numbers in and then picking them out again to see the shape they left behind.