An Easy Way to Entertain Children

When I was a child, and my mother newly single, there were no ornaments for the Christmas tree, so we decided to make them by using homemade play dough. Play dough can be baked hard for hanging. I don’t know if any of these ornaments survived over the last 28 years, but they were fun to make. Even the neighborhood kids got in on the action with some of the most memorable ornaments were the Kiss logo made by one of my brother’s friends. That tree still is one of my favorites.

I still prefer making play dough to purchased. There is something in the way each of them smells that makes me avoid one and enjoy the other.

My daughter and grandchildren were visiting earlier this summer and one Sunday morning Caleb and I made play dough. Caleb and I have made play dough before and he was a great helper. He was even willing to sit through the pictures.

Recipes abound in all sorts of blogs, and they are very similar. I found one since I didn’t have the one my mom used as a child, that made a lot at one time. Here is the recipe I used from TinkerLab.com. This site is fabulous for anything creative to do with kids. It is aptly named “The Best Play Dough Recipe.” You probably have all the ingredients in your house right now.

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Measure and pour everything except the food coloring into a heavy, large pan.

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Turn on heat to medium – low and stir. Play dough needs to be stirred nearly continuously to prevent burning.

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Caleb likes to stir until it gets too hard.

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Keep stirring. It will look lumpy and wet:

DSC_0264After only a few minutes, the dough begins to come together:
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This is after another minute:

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The play dough is done cooking when it looks dry and is hard to stir. Your arm will get a workout. Turn the dough out onto a surface that won’t stain. Knead a couple of times to get the pull the dough together. Be careful, it will be very hot. Caleb never gets to help with this part.

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For this recipe, I was able to divide into fours so he could have different colors.

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We used liquid food coloring in basic colors. The more food coloring you use the richer the color. I believe the paste food coloring can be used though I’ve never done so. The technique is the same: add the color and knead until all the color is mixed in.

Here is the red:

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Looks we could have used some more good coloring.

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And, the blue:

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Caleb enjoyed squirting the color in and it shows:

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Green is next:

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So pretty.

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Finally, yellow:

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This may be with about a half a bottle of food coloring, most definitely more than a few drops. The color is gorgeous.

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All the colors together:

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He sat still long enough for this one.

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The play dough is hot when the colors are being added so be careful. With all the coloring he added I ended up with these colorful hands:

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It comes off relatively easily and my hands were clean by the time I finished washing the dishes. Caleb played for hours that day and the play dough didn’t dry out. Homemade play dough doesn’t have any preservatives so I generally store it in the refrigerator. It will last for a while that way.

By the end of the day, we had one color since Caleb mixed them together but he played all week. The play dough held up and didn’t dry out. It’s one of his favorite things.

Play dough is also one of my favorite things.