Child's Play: Two Recipes for Homemade Fun

It can be difficult to keep the kiddies amused over the holiday season without resorting to electronic "babysitters." But, even in this digital age, some good old-fashioned analog play still manages to engage.

DIY modeling clay (uncooked):

You Need

  • 2 parts flour

  • 1 part table salt

  • 1 part water

  • 1 spoonful vegetable oil (optional)

  • Natural food coloring or fruit/veggie juices (like beet and carrot). If you have time to experiment, you can try making a dye by boiling plant materials such as walnut shells, turmeric root, onion skins, red cabbage leaves, or rhubarb (assuming you have any of the above just lying around). Strong brewed coffee or tea can also be used.

  • Waxed paper

How To

  • Combine flour and salt in large bowl, mix in water slowly until fully absorbed.
  • Knead until thoroughly mixed; add a spoonful of vegetable oil for smoother texture, if desired.
  • Knead in a few drops of food coloring or juice concentrate for color. More flour can be added if texture becomes too sticky.
  • Store in an airtight container.

Variation (cooked): Increase water to equal parts with the flour, combine all ingredients, except food color, and stir over low heat until it reaches the consistency of mashed potatoes. Adding an optional spoonful of cream of tartar increases the elasticity. Let cool on waxed paper and knead in the food color/juice/dye. Store in an airtight container.

Fingerpaints (washable):

You Need

  • Cornstarch
  • Non-toxic soap flakes (make your own with a bar of soap and a grater)
  • Food coloring or juice/dye
  • Waxed paper

How to

  • Melt one handful of soap flakes in approximately ½ cup of boiling water
  • Combine 1 cup cornstarch with ½ cup water, add the melted soap flakes and mix thoroughly.
  • Let stand to thicken for half an hour and add the food color or juice concentrate/dye
  • Use to paint on waxed paper and store in airtight containers

Variation (edible): Who says you can't play with your food? Try using packaged puddings, colored icing, or creamy peanut butter as fingerpaints. You won't be able to hang the results on the wall, but it'll be fun to lick your fingers clean afterwards!

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