Beginning 2018 with Calming Play Dough

How has the first month of the new year been for you?

I was feeling worried and anxious in the months prior, with my eldest starting Primary School in 2018. One morning, I saw this poster at the bus stop.

Singapore Symphony 92.4 radio station

I took out my earphones, plugged it into my phone and played my favourite music on my commute to work. I immediately felt better.

Music has a unique link to our emotions, and research has found that it can be used as an extremely effective stress management tool.

According to researchers at Stanford University (2006), “listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication”. With music being so readily available and inexpensive, it makes an easy solution for reducing stress.

Generally, these music are best for reducing stress:

  • Native-American
  • Celtic
  • Indian stringed-instruments
  • Drums
  • Flutes
  • Nature sounds (eg. rain/thunder)
  • Light jazz
  • Classical

However, if you realise that you are forcing yourself to listen to relaxation music that irritates you, you will create tension and not reduce it. Search for music that you like by exploring on the Internet, or listening to the radio.

With your brain and body relaxed, and with your new calm self, you can then function at your best for the rest of the day.

If listening to or playing music is not your cup of tea, get your hands busy with Calming Play Dough. As a poor teacher, I always had to source for ideas on a budget. I am so glad to come across recipes for homemade play dough. Not only did the children enjoy playing them, so did I, making them as well.

Basic Play Dough Recipe



1/2 cup salt

1 cup plain flour

2 TB cream of tartar

1 cup water

1 TB vegetable oil

Food colouring (optional)



  1. Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan.
  2. Stir over heat until dough is pliable.
  3.  Remove the dough from the saucepan (be careful it is still hot!), and knead it a little. If it is too sticky, add some flour. If it is too dry, rub a little oil in your hands before kneading.
  4. Listening to the therapeutic squishing sounds…
  5. Let it cool, and when kept properly in an airtight container, this soft play dough can keep for months.

Start with this very basic recipe to create the play dough; for the full instructions with pictures, view here. After these steps, you can then be creative by adding colour, scents, and even glitter. For our Calming Play Dough, I added 3 drops of Lavender Essential Oil and a spoonful of rosemary leaves.

Essential oils can help you find balance in a particularly stressful moment. Some essential oils you can try are:

  • Lavender: soothing; builds solidarity and strength
  • Rose: the queen of oils to help with all stress issues
  • Vetiver: restores a sense of absolute grounding and cools those hot emotions
  • Chamomile: calming, soothing, medicinal
  • Ylang Ylang: releases anger and frustation
  • Bergamot: calming; relieves mild anxiety

Essential oils may seem like a very powerful and natural Go-To solution for everything, but be sure to use them correctly! Some oils are concentrated, and needs to be diluted accordingly. Check out this guide for new users:

I hope this article has been useful for you, and from everyone at Bloom School of Music & Art, here is wishing you a blessed and peaceful new year ahead! Now excuse me while I relax with my new play dough…..