Monday, April 20, 2009

Making playdough with the boys

I love making homemade playdough for purely selfish reasons. Kneading it is the most relaxing, entrancing thing in the world. Store bought playdough is fun but it's a bit more firm than homemade. The homemade stuff, still warm is just so soft and squishy that it's hard for this momma to let go of it and hand it over to the kids for tinting. Although I do wonder why I bother tinting considering that after just one session it all ends up mixed together and some weird shade of army green.

This recipe came from The Busy Book for Toddlers and although I'm not big on planned crafts or any agenda for that matter it's been nice to have this book for the fun recipes. From ornaments made of applesauce and cinnamon to paper mache or this recipe, the book has come in handy. Sure you could find these recipes online but it's easier to flip through the book instead of getting sidetracked on google. Or maybe that's just me.

Homemade Playdough
adapted from The Busy Book for Toddlers

I usually double the recipe for the boys but that's because they get pretty elaborate. One recipe should be enough for a younger child.

2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon cream of tartar - this is optional but it's supposed to improve the stretch of the dough. I've never left it out because for some reason I always keep cream of tartar around despite this being the only recipe that calls for it.

If you want a complicated recipe turn away. This is super easy. The hardest part will be keeping the kids calm after they find out what you're doing. First dump all the ingredients in a pan.

If you've ever made cream puffs then this should look familiar. Stir it all and cook while stirring over medium low heat.

Continue stirring until the dough starts to mass up in the middle and forms a ball. Mine was still a bit too wet and I ended up having to knead it with a bit of flour. You'll want yours to look like a batch of pretty firm mashed potatoes.

I promise you that every child will take at least one lick. Fortunately the salt which is a great preservative, will act as a great deterrent to that ever happening a second time. Now let it sit for 5 minutes or until you can handle the dough without getting burnt. Once it cools down a bit knead the dough and if it's too sticky put some flour on your hands and the counter. Knead until smooth and a bit more cool. Then divide the dough for tinting. Make a well in the middle of each ball of dough, then drop in several drops of food coloring. Knead until the color is smooth.

We made the four colors that come in the food coloring box but you can definitely make more, less or even just leave it natural. Just a tip, the liquid food coloring will stain the counter and your hands so if that bothers you lay down a placemat and get some gloves. I'm okay with the grocery checkout person wondering why my hands are orange.

Finally, break out the tools and let the kids go to town.

The playdough will keep for several months in a sealed container stored in the fridge. The boys made me milkshakes, cupcakes and worms for snack. Yum, yum.

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