It's hard to find a child who doesn't love to play with dough and clay. And as a mom of three, I know that play dough can become a mom's best or worst friend. It all depends on how you handle it.
In our home, we created a play dough kit. It contained all of the essential items needed for creative play with this fun substance. When it was time to play, the kit came out and when playtime was over, away it went until next time. We had very specific rules for the play dough kit, and I can say with all honesty that my carpet or tables have never been ruined by their dough-y creations.
Follow these directions and you too can have a fun activity ready to go for your little one.
--Large plastic tub or storage container with a lid.
--Fresh supply of playdough or clay -- can be homemade or store bought.
--Inexpensive or old cookie cutters
--Cutting utensils such as plastic butter knives, pizza cutters, etc.
--Plastic coated placemats to protect their work surface
--Optional: garlic press, forks, melon baller, rolling pin, or other items.
I enjoyed making homemade play dough with my children for their kit. Not only does this give you a fun and educational activity with your children, it's inexpensive, too. Here's a recipe for making your own playdough.
1 cup Flour
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Salt
2 tablespoon Cream of tartar
1 tablespoon Oil
Cook until ingredients start to clump together. Turn out onto a plate or piece of wax paper, and knead in food coloring if you wish.
After making the dough, we would store it in large zipper style plastic bags, that would then be placed inside the large storage container. If sealed properly, the bags will keep the dough fresh and pliable for 1-2 weeks, possibly even a little bit longer. When the dough did start to dry out, it was easy to whip up another batch or two.
In the storage container, we also placed all of our other goodies. While I did give you suggestions above as to what to put in your kit, it is really up to you. The standard items in our kit were always dull butter knives, pizza cutters, rolling pin, and cookie cutters. We also made sure that there was always a a plastic coated placemat for each child could work on.
One of the most important things to me when it came to putting together my children's play dough kit, was that they could truly create. No one was telling them how something "should"
look, unless they really wanted to know. I found that allowing them plenty of free time to design and explore with their dough, encouraged them to create those things that only their minds could dream of.
Another important issue, which helped me to keep my sanity, was clearly defined rules. In our home, the kit was in a place that was low enough so that the children could initiate their own activities with it, but they also knew that misuse of the items would cause me to put it away. We had rules such as: No play dough off of the placemats; If you drop dough, you must pick it up right away; Only 5 minutes per tool if someone else would like to use it; Everyone cleans up their own space.
Of course, you will want to create your own rules and guidelines that will fit the needs of your home. You will find that because the play dough kit is easily portable and it's all contained within the storage box, it's easy to remove the kit when play is out of hand and put it away for a specified amount of time.
Brandie Valenzuela is a freelance writing mother of three children. She is also the editor of the Family First Newsletter http://members.aol.com/BMValen/index.html
Kool aid dough
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 pack of powdered drink mix (kool aid)
medium sized sauce pan
Directions: Add all ingredients to your pan and mix over medium heat. Remove from heat once mixture forms a ball in the center of the pan. Add some glitter and stir. Dump your dough onto a cutting board or cookie sheet to cool. Keep dough in a sealed container or zip enclosure bag for up to six weeks. No refrigeration necessary.
photo by jekinthebox