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The early learning centre make their own brand of play dough called soft stuff, which is usually available in little tubs and is of similar colours and consistency and quality to the slightly more pricey play dough. My son was bought this play dough set at Christmas time, which is a nice take on the moulding play. Previously we have had a dinosaur set, a Thomas set, and Mr and Mrs Pota-Doh head sets, which all come with their own little tools, but this one appealed to my kids as they love making pizza with me, and they were keen to play with this and make their own little models.
One thing I liked straight away was the fact that this comes in a box that is a bit like a takeaway pizza box, but on a smaller scale. You get into the box by lifting the lid, and inside was all the dough and cutters that make up this set. For the £10 cost it is reasonable value.
Inside the box was 4 different colours of dough to allow you to make a pizza base and then different coloured toppings. These were yellow, pink, green and blue. My only disappointment here was that rather than provide the dough inside a little plastic pot as you normally get, this was packaged inside a cellophane style package so once we had cut the plastic open, there was no way to reseal the dough. For any parent of a small child, you probably know that to keep play dough soft and pliable it needs to be kept in a sealed container to minimise air exposure. Here, I would have found this would have been wrecked overnight just left loose. I have plenty of old plastic tubs, so I just put it in those, but it is something to be aware of.
A little tip I use is if your playdough does get a bit hard, you can add a little water to it and warm it in your hands by rolling it around then it softens again. It only needs to be a tiny bit however, or you end up with the colouring on your skin and it goes a slimy mess.
The amount of dough was also a bit skimpy in my opinion, but I guess it is cheap enough to make or buy more dough once you have the cutters.
The set comes with a little waterproof mat. This is about A3 in size, and is ok but slips around a bit on the table. I usually get my kids to play on a tray with playdough, as this also stops some of the dough falling onto the floor and getting trodden into my rug. There are then some tools and cutters in the set to make the modelling experience more fun.
The first cutter is a round circle about 6cm in diameter, which you use to make the base of your pizza. There are then cutters shaped like a mushroom and onion which make three small mushrooms or lots of slices of onion. Another two moulds let you make tomato slices or pineapple chunks. There are then also several card shapes in the set which look like pepperoni, ham and olives.
One small problem is that there is no rolling pin in the set. Luckily we already have two small wooden rolling pins which are also available from the early learning centre, so our play could start straight away. You could always shape dough with your hands, but your resultant shapes would be less satisfying and realistic in my opinion.
There are then some more little tools to help your little ones create their pizza. There is a little pointed knife for helping to cut your shapes out and removing them from the mould. There is also what is labelled on the box as an extruder - personally, I think this tool looks more like my garlic crusher, and it works very similarly. You put dough inside it and when you close the tool and squeeze it the dough is pushed through the small holes. The effect here then leaves you with long thin strands of dough which look a little bit like grated cheese.
There is also an angled spatula which allows you to lift the pizza, and a pizza knife which helps you cut your finished creation into slices which you can then serve with the spatula to your 'delighted' customers in the pizzeria.
My opinion of this set is that although I personally can't stand playdough (the feel and smell of it makes me shudder) the kids have had a lot of fun with this set. It has a lot of pieces (cutters and moulds) for the price, though I personally think it should include a rolling pin to help the kids make their creations.
The only real complaint is that I think this set lets itself down by how the dough is presented in plastic bags, and the fact that there really should be more dough. I'm sure I am not the only parent who finds that some disappears every time they use it. It used to be because my little one used to eat it, but he has grown out of that now, and instead it is just because bits get left on the table and go hard, or go on the floor and get hoovered up because they are covered in fluff and a bit too icky to reuse.
This set is recommended for children aged 3 plus. My youngest is now almost 4, and I find both my children are able to play with this set with minimal supervision and interaction from me. They like this, as when they had the Mr and Mrs Pota-Doh set they found it too fiddly to get complicated shapes out of moulds. This set allows them to be independent in their play and also a bit more creative as they don't need me to push the shapes out for them. I think 3 is a good age limit as you might find kids more likely to try eating the dough if they are younger with it being a pretend food they are making. Although this won't hurt them, you will then run out of dough even quicker.
As with most sets of this type, the play dough mashed quickly together, so instead of lovely bright colours we had a browny coloured lump of dough. This doesn't seem to affect the play value to this too much though with the addition of the card pieces to add as toppings.
Create your own pizza base and toppings with the Soft Stuff« Pizzeria. Use the cutters to create a pizza base, then add Soft Stuff« or paper toppings to your pizza.Set includes 2 shaped cutters, 2 topping moulds, extruder, pizza base cutter, knife, pizza cutter, spatula, play mat and 4 tubes of Soft Stuff«Not suitable for children under 36 months due to small parts. Age range: From 3 years.