Saturday, April 24, 2010
As Nate nears 2, he's taken more of an interest in crafts. Particularly on rainy days when outdoor play is not an option. He loves to color and draw. And I love watching his imagination come to life. I also like that it is an activity that we can do together.
Because he loves to build, I considered buying him some Play-Doh. But I decided against it for several reasons. One, my toddler is still deep in his oral phase and since I can't be sure what it is comprised of, I'm nervous that he will ingest it and get a stomachache or worse. Second, it dries out over time and becomes a crumbly mess. Which also means I'd have to spend money to replace it often. Third, I'm not a huge fan of the plastic containers.
So, when I came across this recipe for homemade play dough via Real Moms...Real Views, I knew I had to give it a try. It's eco-friendly, super easy to make and the ingredients are all derived from common items you probably already have in your kitchen!
DIY Play Dough
Ages: 18 months +
Makes 3 cups
2 cups white flour (I personally recommend sifting for best results)
2 cups water, tinted with food coloring (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons)*
1 cup salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
Plastic gloves (optional)
Magnetic spice jars (we got our set of 6 at Linens ‘n Things for $20) or airtight containers
*If you want to create multiple colors, leave the water untinted, then divide the finished dough into balls and knead food coloring into each. (Wear plastic gloves to avoid staining your hands.) You can change colors by kneading together balls of different hues.
Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture holds together, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside until dough is cool enough to touch, about 5 minutes.
Step 2: Turn the clay onto a wax paper-lined countertop and knead it for 2-3 minutes.
Step 3: If you used untinted water, separate dough into palm-sized balls and knead food coloring into each ball of dough. Use less drops for a pastel hue or more for a bright, vibrant color. You'll want to use gloves during the process to avoid staining your hands. However, as the dough cools and the color is blended, it will no longer transfer.
Step 4: When completely cool, pack into spice jars or airtight containers. We used mason jars, as that is all we had on hand.
The dough may dry out with repeated play, but simply knead in a little more oil and it should soften back up. You could also add some vanilla or almond extract for a yummy scent.
I LOVE this recipe! The dough is so soft and smooth and easy for little hands to mold. We use cookie cutters to make different shapes or we start from scratch and sculpt our own creation. And if Nate happens to take a bite, I don't have to freak out because I know it is perfectly safe. Just think about the money you'll save since you won't have to buy the store-bought stuff! Not to mention you'll be doing the environment a solid.
This is a fun project for the entire family. Little ones will have fun playing with the finished product but older children will have a blast stirring, kneading and shaping. You could even recycle old plastic margarine tubs, Tupperware or tin coffee canisters by having your children decorate them as their own little play dough containers. Cut and tape/glue construction paper around the base and on top of the lid. Embellish with stickers, draw designs, write their name...the possibilities are endless!
Next DIY experiment: crayons!