Spending time with my niece (age 8) and nephew (age 4) has taught me many things: patience, kindness, compassion, etc. However, one particular lesson has stood out to me as of late: kids are gross. They are adorable and awesome and hilariously uninhibited, which, in turn, often makes them gross. They just want to stomp in the mud, pick their noses, and enjoy all the luxuries of gooey, mushy substances. However, this grossness can easily be turned into something productive, cute, and brightly colored through dough play.

Play-Doh PlusPlay-Doh, from Hasbro, has been around for decades. I loved molding the clay-like substance when I was young, spending hours at the kitchen table with multiple containers worth spilling out onto sheets of wax paper. I loved squishing a big ball of Play-Doh in my hands and feeling the smushy compound ooze between my fingers. It was gross, awesome, and most importantly, wildly entertaining. In addition to Play-Doh and the new Play-Doh Plus compound, which is a fluffier version that allows for easier molding, there are other great new options on the shelves that allow kids to be creative while channeling their passion for mush and grossness.

SkwooshiImageSkwooshi, from Irwin Toy, never dries out, is mess-free, and easily creates awesome shapes and figures. Skwooshi is available on its own or in play packs with accessories, such as cookie cutters, a textured rolling pin, a layering tool to combine different colors, and building tools. For kids with allergies, Skwooshi is completely wheat and gluten-free. My favorite part about Skwooshi (I keeep a container at my desk, don’t judge me) is that it has this really great liquid effect. When you pull the compound apart, instead of just breaking in two pieces, Skwooshi spans out and appears to liquefy before falling back into a mushy, gushy pile. Gross? Yes. Awesome? Yes. Designed for kids ages 3 and up? Yes.

Roseart.MagicFunDoughCharacterAnother great dough play option (on the cuter end of the spectrum) is Magic Fun Dough, from Roseart. Kids ages 3 and up can create four-color characters with the magic transfers, which work just like temporary tattoos. Kids can roll out the dough, apply the transfers, and cut out their character. Six different themed play sets are available, including barnyard, pet shop, pirate cove, and volcano valley. In addition, the dough doesn’t crumble, and it is wheat-free, gluten-free, and non-toxic. Magic Fun Dough will be available in October at Target and Walmart stores nationwide.

Kids will be kids, and they will be gross, and it doesn’t seem like it will ever change. Dough play is a classic play pattern that is here to stay, and will let kids enjoy rolling, smushing, squishing, pounding, and molding compounds of all different varieties for years to come.

For more commentary from Marissa, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!