The BEST Homemade Playdough Recipe Ever

There was a time for me when the thought of making homemade playdough coincided with things like spinning yarn, milling flour and milking cows.  There was no way.  Why bother when you can buy playdough in a can from the store?

Well, after 4 children I finally learned – homemade playdough is awesome!  The number 1 reason I make my own playdough is because homemade playdough is so much cheaper than buying playdough in the store.

These are some other reasons why I now make my own playdough:

  • I can make a lot of playdough at one time.
  • I can make any color I choose.
  • Because it is so cheap to make I am not concerned with how my kids choose to use it.  Want to mix colors – sure, go ahead.
  • If necessary (because of allergies) I can adjust ingredients, like using rice flour instead of wheat flour.
  • Scents can be added.
  • It lasts a really long time.

Play Dough Recipe:

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • 1  tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup water
  • food coloring

Mix first 5 ingredients in a pan with a wire whisk until smooth.  Add food coloring.  Cook over medium heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for about 3 – 5 minutes. Dough will become difficult to stir and form a clumpy ball.  Remove playdough from the pot.  Transfer to lightly floured countertop and knead for 5 minutes.  After playdough has cooled transfer to a plastic bag or other airtight container.

Secrets for perfect playdough:

  • Always use Kosher Salt.
  • Be sure to whisk ingredients before heating until smooth.
  • Add scents to your playdough like cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, essential oils, or extracts like vanilla, lemon, etc.
  • Add glitter to your playdough as you are kneading.
  • If your playdough is too gooey, add additional flour as you knead.
  • If you want to make smaller batches with a larger variety of colors, do not add the coloring before cooking.  Cook white playdough and add a couple drops of coloring to small batches as you knead.
  • If it doesn’t turn out perfect the first time, try again.  Make an adjustment.  My first mistake was cooking the playdough too long before transferring it to the counter.

Seriously, take my word for it.  Homemade playdough is easy to make, and so worth the little bit of effort it requires.

Enjoy!

Board Games are more than just Family Fun

Board games are pretty popular in our house.  We play a lot of board games on our Family Nights.  Sometimes it can get pretty intense.  Have I ever mentioned we are all a little bit competitive?  Well, actually some of us are VERY competitive.  And arguments deep discussions have ensued.

Truthfully though, we do argue over the rules, there is always a moment of pause when one looks for a specific point that will make or break his move, and continued discussion most often follows.

And it is awesome!  What better place is there for children to learn strategic planning, communication and negotiation skills.  I know folks who pay big money to master these skills.

This is our family Top 10 list of Board Games (not necessarily in order of favorite)

1.  Chess

2.  Blokus

3.  Quirkle

4.  Quarto

5.  Mexican Train

6.  Mancala

7.  Uno

8.  Catan (for the older kids)

9.  Swish

10.  Animals Upon Animals (for the younger ones)

and just a few more…

11.  Chinese Checkers

12.  Scrabble

13.  Monopoly (not really my favorite, but the kids like it)

What are some of your favorites?

 

Be Kind

Summer is nearly here.  Have you been thinking about exactly how you will fill the upcoming l-o-n-g days with your kiddos?

One thing I have been thinking a lot about is not necessarily how to fill the days of Summer, but what is it that I want to accomplish within these days of Summer.  I don’t want to just pass the time.  I want to make it count – especially when the kids are home and watching.

Our family is going to create a Random Acts of Kindness Challenge.  Our Summer break is 10 weeks long.  So for our family the goal will be 1 random act of kindness per week.  Part of the fun will be brainstorming a list of ideas to choose from throughout the Summer and then planning an act each week.  Will you join us?

If you need some inspiration start with my previous post on random acts of kindness.  Or search for ideas at http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas.

These are a few of my favorites:

1.  Make dinner for your local fire station.

2.  Create Ziploc bag care packages to give to the homeless.  Include things like toothbrush, gum, socks, chapstick, wet wipes, chewy granola bars.

3.  Write a kind note or quote on the sidewalk in chalk.

4.  Write a thank you note to let someone know you appreciate them.

5.  Bake cookies for a neighbor.

6.  Host a Free lemonade or popsicle stand on a well traveled walking path or playground.

7.  Set up a community library for book swaps.  An old bookshelf at the end of your driveway would be perfect.

8.  Leave a coloring book and small pack of crayons in a waiting room.

9.  Carry an extra leash or umbrella in your car for the next time you see someone who really needs it.

10.  Leave a kind note or special treat for the community helpers who often go unnoticed, like the garbage men, mailman or school janitor.

The possibilities are endless.  What will you do?

Morgan Freeman

Photo credit unknown

Ten Days of Art, Part 10 – Ready for School

This project would be a great one for storing milk money!

Carton Wallet

 

What you’ll need

  • Half gallon milk or juice carton with plastic cap, rinsed
  • Scissors
  • Paper towels
  • Tape
  • Wallet Template
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Ruler
  • Craft knife (optional)
  • Butter knife

How to make it

  1. Carton Wallet - Step 1Cut open the carton so it lies flat, as shown; put aside the cap for now. Dry the inside with the paper towels. Tape the template on top of the carton so that the top circle lines up with the spout. Mark the outline of the template with a ballpoint pen. Using firm pressure, trace the lower circle and the dotted lines of the template so that they transfer to the carton. (This will score the lines for easier folding.) A ruler will help you mark the straight lines. Cut out the shape from the carton.
  2. Carton Wallet - Step 2Use scissors to cut out the lower circle as marked. (Tip: To make cutting out the circle easier, first make an X with a craft knife.) Use a ruler and a butter knife to further score the fold lines.
  3. Carton Wallet - Step 3Following the fold lines you marked, create an accordion fold on each side of the wallet.
  4. Carton Wallet - Step 4

Tightly squeeze the accordion folds. Fold the top flap down, pushing the spout through the hole. Screw on the cap to keep the flap in place.

Many thanks to Spoonful for the great tutorial.

 

Ten Days of Art, Part 9 – Back Pack Charms

Do you remember Shrinky Dinks?  I used to love them.

Since school is about to begin and we are slowly getting in the mood, we plan to make Shrinky Dink (like) back pack trinkets.  And maybe we will even make a few extra to share with our friends on the first day!

This is my plan:

To get started you will need:

  • #6 plastic container (like the to-go boxes on the salad bar)
  • Colored Sharpie markers
  • Hole punch
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheet

 

This is a #6 plastic container.  Cut the flat sections to make a sheet of plastic to work with.

Decorate your plastic as you like with the Sharpie markers.  Be sure to remember to punch a hole before you shrink it.

Bake at 350 degrees on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Watch carefully.  The plastic will begin to melt and curl and then lay flat.  When flat remove it from the oven and allow it to cool before handling.

If you need more specifics check out the great tutorial and photos at Rust & Sunshine.

Isn’t this great?  What will you make?

10 Days of Art, Part 8 – Textile Art For Little Hands

I really like to do my best to introduce as many different types of art mediums as possible.  It is very easy for kids to get trapped in paper and crayons and become bored with the idea of art.  This would be horrible!  I want my kids to realize art is an expression with limitless potential, no matter your skill level.

Textile art, especially things like knitting are extraordinary practices for small hands and minds to reinforce patterns and fine motor skills, two skills necessary in math and handwriting.

Take a look at this great finger knitting tutorial at flax & twine.  This is a perfect knitting project to begin with.

Another excellent project for small hands is felting.  Felting itself might be slightly dangerous with its super sharp needles.  But these felted beads would be perfect.  It will take a bit of time to make a lot of felted beads, so you may choose to incorporate a few felted beads amongst other wooden beads, or maybe use a large felted bead as a centerpiece to your beaded necklace.  Spoonful.com has provided easy to follow directions.

Roly-poly Beads

Ten Days of Art, Part 7 – White Paper Projects

Recently the kids and I on several occasions have visited one of my favorite places – the art store.  I LOVE art stores.  It is really rather ironic though because I would never consider myself an artist.  My drawings are most often unrecognizable or juvenile to say the least.  But there is something about the ability to create and the limitless possibilities in an art store that make me feel like a kid in a candy shop.  I love it.  And I love that my kids love it too.

On these shopping trips we have discovered some new products that have been really fun to work with.  In my last post I mentioned the benefit of White Paper Projects.  These products would be really great for White Paper Projects.  You should check them out and have your littles give them a try!

Watercolor Pencils – These watercolor pencils color like ordinary colored pencils.  The colors are very vivid.  After coloring you can use a wet watercolor brush to blend the colors giving an effect much like watercolor paints.  Experiment with more and less water on your brush to create different final products.

Water Soluble Oil Pastels – These water soluble oil pastels are very similar to standard oil pastels.  They too have very vivid colors and are very smooth to use.  The only caution is that these colors break easily.  Although this should not discourage you.  They are great to use and can just as easily be used when broken.  These oil pastels can be smeared or blended with your finger when dry, as well as with a wet paintbrush which creates a really nice finished project and was a lot of fun with the children.

Oil Pastels – Some may refer to oil pastels like these as “cray-pas”.  I prefer Pentel brand oil pastels.  The colors are bright, the pastels are delicate but not too fragile and they blend well.  Oil pastels are not water soluble, although they too create a very nice effect when used underneath watercolors.  This is referred to as a watercolor resist, as they are not soluble in water and will resist the watercolor paints.

These are some examples:

IMG_6260

So get out some white paper and give it a try!

 

 

 

Ten Days of Art, Part 6 – Mixed Media Collage

Projects like this are some of my favorites.  I love projects with very few rules and many possibilities.  A teacher I once taught with referred to projects like this as White Paper Projects.  She always lead White Paper Projects.  This teacher was also a psychologist.

 

I have learned these White Paper Projects are substantial for growth and development.  Projects like this with very few restrictions force children to think in ways they are not generally used to – ways contrary to what they are taught everyday in school.  Children are taught and quizzed on the “right and wrong” or the “yes or no.”  It isn’t always an opportunity for a young person to survey all of their options and map their own choices.  Also important and not always an opportunity is the concept that there is no “wrong” approach.  For some, like my oldest, this will be a very difficult task.

You can really learn a lot from sitting back and observing how a child, or anyone, approaches art.  Some kids will dive right in, others will analyze and organize before touching their paper and some will become very frustrated looking for the “right” answer.  Regardless of what type of child you have, these White Paper Projects are an excellent developmental exercise.

This is what our project looked like at the two hour mark when Clara said, “This is so much fun!”

Mess

Last week we visited the County Fair.  While walking through the art exhibits the girls really took notice of the mixed media pieces.  So that is what we used as our inspiration.

I have mixed emotions on examples of projects.  I can understand the benefit of an example, but I also feel it is limiting for some, especially those children looking for the right answer.  Often they will attempt to re-create instead of create their own piece of art.

So instead of examples I look for what I refer to as inspirations.  And when showing these to children be sure to have several options to inspire, making certain that each piece is unique from the others.  This will reduce the chance of a re-creation.  These are some examples of similar pieces to what we saw at the Fair.

i like multi media collage canvases! tutorial for multi-media collage Multi Media Collage Art

The beauty of this project is you can use supplies you already have.  These are the types of things we chose to use for our projects:

  • Watercolor Paper
  • Bleeding Tissue Paper
  • Mod Podge or watered White Glue mixture
  • Paint Brushes
  • Liquid Watercolors
  • Watercolor Pencils
  • Water soluble Oil Pastes
  • Tacky glue
  • Old Magazines
  • Glitter
  • Newspaper
  • Scrap cardstock pieces

Other items you could use:

  • Canvas or wood instead of paper
  • buttons
  • photos
  • stamps
  • paint pens
  • markers
  • acrylic or other types of paint
  • fabric
  • embellishments
  • recycled items
  • any other item you find around the house

I decided the best approach to this project was to gather all of the supplies, have them accessible and discuss different ways each could be used.

We started first with the wet portions of the project.  First was the newspaper.  Using the liquid watercolors we painted full sheets of newspaper different colors and then set it aside to dry.

IMG_6248

Next we worked on the base for our projects.  The girls chose to use some tissue paper and watercolors to fill their white paper with color.

IMG_6250 IMG_6251

While that was drying they moved on to selecting, cutting and piecing together all of their parts they would later add to the paper.

IMG_6253 IMG_6252

 The depth of this project is created in all of the many layers.  After gluing all of the many pieces the girls then chose to embellish some more with the oil pastels and watercolor pencils.

They were very proud of their final projects!

IMG_6257 IMG_6258 IMG_6259

Ten Days of Art, Part 4 – Gratitude

As a child I recall my mother telling me that if I was not willing to take the time to write a thank you note for a gift that somebody took the time to choose for me, I might never receive another gift from that person again.   I know, harsh, huh?

When was the last time you received a Thank You note – a written note?  After our most recent birthday celebration and many days of reading “write thank you notes” on my to do list I have realized these little hand written notes are one of the things we have made ourselves “too busy” for.  And even worse, we feel as if this can be excused because we are so “busy” with so many other things.

As a society we have exhausted our tasks with all things instant.  We scan payments from our phones, receive appointment confirmations via text and invitations via email because our culture has decided one can “save time” if we don’t have to pull out our wallet, make a phone call or post something in the mail.

So today I have decided we will slow down and take the time for gratitude.  Not only are we writing our thank you notes, we decorated them too.  Each note is unique and lovingly made just for the addressee.

IMG_6236  IMG_6237  IMG_6238

To make cards like these we used white cardstock, red acrylic paint and the base of a stalk of celery.  Other vegetables like romaine lettuce or okra would work well too.  Use your imagination and have fun.

Ten Days of Art, Part 2 – The Dot…

Children’s books are an excellent way to give a little momentum to your child’s imagination.

The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds, is a wonderful book which addresses the fear of beginning something new.  In this book the student, Vashti,  feels she cannot create art because she is not able to draw.  Vashti’s art teacher suggests, “Make your mark and see where it takes you.”  Boldly, Vashti makes a dot.   And with this dot Vashti gains the confidence and inspiration to create more and more.

So go ahead, “Make your mark and see where it takes you.”

IMG_6215

The Dot…

 

Supplies:

Watercolor or Thick Drawing paper

Tempura paints

Paper plates

Plastic Cups (or something similar)

Corks (or something similar)

Directions:

1.  Choose tempura colors of your choice.   I chose primary colors because my group was young and this easily led to discussions on color theory and secondary colors.

IMG_6211

2.  Using items found around the house to create circles and dots, allow the children to create their own abstract masterpiece filling the paper as they please.

IMG_6212                                                                  IMG_6213

 3.  And just as Vashti did, be sure to sign it!