Monday, July 12, 2010

Make your own Playdough!

My first official blog kids activity is here! When my daughter asked to play with her playdough this morning, we realized that it was a bit old and yicky. So, project for today (during the hottest week of the year): stand over a hot stove and make playdough! See how much I love her?!

Below is the recipe I love; I think its from some Weis store flyer, though I can’t be sure- that little scrap of paper is LOOOONG gone. As I said, you do have to cook this recipe, but I really think it makes great playdough. It lasts for a long time, is nice and soft, and in my opinion is just as good, if not better than, the stuff you buy. And, bonus!!!, its much cheaper since all you need is flour, oil, cream of tarter, salt, food coloring and water.

I love making playdough with kids as they can learn so much in the process! They learn math as you measure and count ingredients, and science as you stir them together and see what happens as it heats up! I try to let L do as much as possible, though you have to be careful with the hot stove. Also, she thinks that flour is a snack, so sticks her fingers in it all the time. Try to be willing to let your kids make a mess- the fun is in the exploration! But do encourage them to clean up when they are done- of course a 7 year old will be able to do a better job at that than a 2 year old, so keep that in mind.

My absolute favorite part: adding the colors! Kids can see how mixing two colors together make new colors. If you buy the brand name food coloring, they have a handy chart on the back to make a number of fun colors- not that you need a refresher or anything… LOL. Or just experiment and let your kids figure it out as they go!

Here’s the recipe I love:

1 cup flour

1 cup water

¼ cup salt

2 tbsp cream of tarter*

1 tbsp vegetable oil

food coloring

Mix all ingredients** in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat*** stirring constantly until a ball forms. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead.

This makes a little more than what will fill 3 regular playdough containers.

Some points to note:

*You can find cream of tarter with the spices in the baking aisle of any grocery store. It’s usually in a teeny tiny container, so I prefer to go to one of the many country stores around here that sell bulk items, and they usually have a much larger container for a better price!

**If you want your playdough to be all the same color, add your food coloring with all the other ingredients. We wanted several colors, so we cooked the playdough, and then split it into small baggies. Add the food coloring and knead in the bag. You do have to be careful not to split the bag by letting out the air and kneading gently! I found that if you knead it briefly you can usually take it out of the bag and finish incorporating the coloring evenly by hand without staining your fingers. If you don’t care about having stained fingers, just separate, drip on some coloring and have at it!

***I usually end up using medium high heat- I get bored waiting around for it to do anything at medium. I haven’t burned any playdough yet… just keep stirring and keep an eye on it!

So there you go! Give your child the playdough, a table knife, cup, cookie cutters, even a fork, straining spoon etc; you don’t need those fancy playdough toys- things you have around your kitchen will work just fine! And have some fun! For young children, just learning to squeeze it into a ball, roll it with a rolling pin, make snakes etc is a great learning experience! I like to roll snakes and turn them into letters to sneak some abc’s in there! Or if you’re lucky enough to have some abc cookie cutters, those are fun too! Enjoy!

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