Thursday, May 10, 2012

Homemade play dough

I love when you find something that just completely inspires you.  For me Montessori does it again and again, I find every book/website/blog I can to learn more about it and how to use it in our home. Today Big little and I made play dough while his baby bro was down for a nap.He loves to dump in the ingredients after they are carefully measured out, and every now and then is so excited about it he dumps it somewhere other than the pan or bowl we are using. I love that my three year old helps make things and doesn't just wait for me to do it. He even cleans up when we are done, with a bit of help but he does it none the less! 
We used this recipe and it came out great, there are a lot of play dough recipe's I'm not a fan of due to smell or texture. Especially when salt is involved and it makes the play dough extra grainy. This one however was smooth as could be and was perfect for little hands to manipulate. We have a few sculpting tools (real materials so a child learns to respect them) and of course an array of utensils were used from fondue forks to the rolling pin. And what would playing with play dough be if it didn't include a volcano finally. (word to the wise if your out of white vinegar, red wine vinegar barely does the trick.) And watch your kids when they add food color, someone wasn't paying attention and another someone added more than half the bottle of liquid green. Needless to say my hands look like they belong to Shrek.
Ingredients needed:
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tarter
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • food coloring
  • 1 cup flour

When in this process you allow your kids to assist is entirely up to you.  Younger children can mix dry ingredients, older kids can stir (supervised) at the stove top, and adding food coloring is fun for everyone.  My son is under two, so he mainly helps me with the “playing” part.  Please supervise your children and use caution with the stove and hot dough. Combine all ingredients (except food coloring) in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir over medium heat until smooth.  Stir continuously until the dough balls (about 1-2 minutes).  Remove from heat.
When dough is cool enough to handle, knead until smooth. Form into a ball. Divide into as many colors as you’d like to make.  A single batch makes a good amount for four colors  Add food coloring to the divided dough.  Gel food coloring works quite well.  I have not tried liquid food coloring. Knead the food coloring into the dough. To protect your counter top, knead over wax paper.  To protect your hands, wear plastic or rubber gloves, if you have them (you could also put the dough and food coloring inside a ziplock bag and have the kids squish it around inside). When the dough is a consistent color, ball and set aside. Repeat with the rest of your colors.
Put the dough in separate containers.  Toddler-sized snack containers are a good size, and I have also wrapped the colors individually in wax paper and stored in zip-lock baggies. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.  It will stay soft for several weeks if stored airtight.

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