Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Magical Properties of Play Dough

Back in September, I signed up to bring favors for S & W's class Halloween parties.  No biggie, right?

My original plan was to make some witches' fingers and skele-bones crayons for each classmate and tie them up all cute in a bag.

It soon became clear that, since I didn't start the process a month in advance, there was no way it was getting done in time for school on Tuesday.

So, I went to my two go-to places for kids' stuff: Pinterest and Vicki Lansky's Feed Me! I'm Yours, a book my mom passed on to me when I became a mama.  I saw the pumpkin pie spice play dough jack-o-lanterns on Pinterest, and did a mash-up with the no-cook play dough recipe in FMIY.  

Here is the end result, plus some monster teeth for extra fun:

I knew my peeps were going to need some of their own to play with from now until Thanksgiving, so I whipped up a batch and plopped it on the dinner table.  Surprisingly, this time Sarah was the one who asked "Can we eat it?".

Now, to the people out there who don't like play dough because it's too messy (ahem, Mike): it's actually a really versatile learning tool.  Just squishing it around builds hand strength, getting those digits ready to write.  You can also use it to learn solid shapes, letters, and numbers, not to mention all of the creative activity it sparks in those brimming brains.

Here's the recipe, if you want to make your own: (Adapted from Feed Me, I'm Yours! and the inter-web)

No-Cook Pumpkin Pie Spice Play Dough

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. alum
  • lump of pumpkin pie spice
  • orange food coloring
Add in a little bit of water at a time until the mixture is the consistency of bread dough, not more than 1/2 cup of water.  If you're going to add food coloring, mix it into the water before you add it to the dough.  Hand it to your kids, and hop on Pinterest for awhile.  This will keep indefinitely if stored in an airtight container.  And nobody eats it.  **I doubled this recipe for Sarah and Will.**

Back to playtime.  I gave the kids the standard plastic utensils, but they wanted rolling pins.  Sorry, but the only rolling pin we have is enormous.  So, I solved the problem by giving them cans of vegetables: same principal, different look.  They had a great time using them to roll out the dough and cutting it with cookie cutters, but then they took it in a different direction.

So, here's the incontestable proof that my children are creative geniuses:

They took the cans intended for rolling out the dough, and turned them into "Mr. Play dough Heads".

They gave them hair, ears, eyes, the works.  
Every single day they find new ways to surprise and amaze me.

Seriously, go out and get some pumpkin spice and alum and whip up a batch of this stuff.  The smell alone is worth it, not to mention the fact that you might be able to get caught up on Facebook or (gasp!) read a book.

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