It turns out homemade playdough is MUCH nicer than the store-bought type. Aside from the pleasant fruity smell from the kool-aid used to dye it, it's proved a lot more resilient.
The regular playdough is already a dry, crumbly mess after less than a month of use, but the homemade one I made a week or two later is still going strong despite having been played with a lot more. Isabel doesn't actually do a lot of molding, but she is constantly handing a lump to one of us and asking for a certain animal. Usually it is a bunny, a mouse or a kangaroo. Occasionally a cat or a dingo. So we are getting pretty good at whipping them up quickly, and changing one into the other.
Once they are made, she holds one in each hand and walks around with them for a while before returning to demand a different animal. So you can see why we appreciate that unlike the storebought stuff, the homemade doesn't shed little dayglow crumbs as it dries. Or any crumbs at all, somehow. Go flour & salt!
I use pretty much the same recipe as everyone else on-line: 1 cup flour, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup salt 1 Tablespoons vegetable oil, a little kool-aid. I don't bother with the cream of tarter. One thing I'm beginning to suspect is that you don't want to use unbleached flour for this. I had a few very frustrating failure-to-stop-being-sticky incidents that I think I can trace back to that. Everything gets put in a pot (don't worry you won't ruin your pot) and heated up until it thickens up like the world's toughest white sauce. Once it's cool enough to touch, knead it a bit. This is my favorite part on a cold day because it just feels good in your hands! Sometimes I knead extra flour in at this point, if it seems like it needs a bit. When cool, store in plastic.
And it lasts too! I had put away a little from each of my first batches over a year ago in a plastic ziplock and forgotten about them until recently. I just took one ball out, kneaded a bit of extra flour in as it was a bit sticky on the outside, and back in business. Just in time to make these photos. I'm a little out of practice, but if you were wondering about the general method for shaping the animals above, here it is.
Start with a lump.
Use two fingers and thumb to pinch out two appendages on one side.
Divide each appendage in half by pressing down in the middle. Now you have your back and front legs.
Refine the legs a bit as desired.
The animal can now be set on its feet.
Again use two fingers and a thumb to pinch out an appendage on the top of the head.
Here's the front view:
Again, put a big dent in the middle to divide it into two pieces.
Refine the two pieces into ears.
Refine the head a bit at this point if desired.
Make a small pinch at the back for the tail.
Pinch it a bit at the base to round it out.
And there we go, finished bunny:
To quickly turn the bunny into a mouse, squish the ears flat and round them out. Roll the tail out into a long piece.
Convert to a pig by folding the ears over into short points. Squish the tip of the nose flat and make two nostrils with your finger nail. Curl up the tail into a little spiral pile.
Fold the ears over, squish up the face, make eye indentations with your fingernails and reshape the tail for some sort of vaguely dog-like creature. That's the great thing about about 2 & 3 year olds, you tell 'em what it is, and they'll take your word for it. I'll let you know next year if 4 year olds are the same way!
I made the upright animals in a similar way. Start with a lump.
Make two pinches, at the bottom and in the middle.
Divide the pinched ledges into two by pushing down in the middle of each.
Make another pinch at the top of the head.
Divide it in two.
Shape the individual ears.
Refine the shape, adding a tail at the back.
The rabbit can easily become a kangaroo by reshaping the ears a bit and narrowing and lengthening the neck.
Finish by pulling out a tail in the back.
Of course these are easily smushed in play, but if they are sequestered somewhere out of reach for a few days, they do turn into surprisingly sturdy little figures. When the playdough is starting to reach the end of its useful life and getting a little too tough for toddler play, I like to shape it into something and let it dry. That way I get another few months of entertainment out of it. I generally do figures, but it would also be great for play food, especially if you went through the trouble of painting it. Or even better, letting the kiddos paint it.
My pregnancy came with a bread addiction that has persisted 3 years post-partum. It's a pretty nice addiction to have, Atkins-Smatkins.
- Victoria, 2012-04-11
This year's early bird spring has me busily plotting and planning my annual container garden campaign, and thinking over campaigns past. One of my favorite arrangements involved a trio of seed-grown plants that turned out to be spectacular companions: dwarf morning glory, lobelia and marigolds.
- Victoria, 2012-03-25