Friday, February 10, 2012

Making Your Own Playdough

When I was a kid, my most favorite thing to play with was playdough. I would sit and play as long as I could stand the smell but eventually I would get awful migraines and I wasn't allowed to play with it any more. You know the smell I'm talking about. Playdough, of all brands, has that smell. Its distinct and strong.

As I started working in childcare when I got older, that smell followed me every where I went and it still gave me a headache like no other. Still, it wasn't until D started getting to the age where he was more interested in playing with it that I started looking into what was actually in it that made me ill. I knew that its labelled non-toxic but that smell was just too much.

Apparently I am the only person on the internet that it does that to. Great. Add it to the list.

I did however find out that regular playdough contains petroleum distillates which is part of the smell (think kerosene odor) and is also not recommended for skin contact or the inevitable toddler taste test. If fact, the CDC recommends immediate medical attention with the ingestion of any amount of petroleum distillates and avoiding any kind of skin contact. It also attacks the respiratory system and the central nervous system so that explains my headaches.

So, yeah. Needless to say, I went looking for a more natural solution. Over the years I have tested and deleted or changed tons of playdough recipes. From the edible kinds to the good smelling to the completely useless. These are some of my favorites. Of course, I wouldn't make all of them at once. Try one and see how you like it. Next time, try a different one. The best thing is that they are all so cheap, they are easy to toss when they get gross or start to dry out.

Regular Homemade Playdough- This is the closest in consistency and moldability to the store bought kind. Kind of a pain to make though.

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 tablespoon oil
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
a few drops of food coloring

Mix all but the last ingredient in a small saucepan. Cook over a very low heat until it turns into a dough (it’ll take just a few minutes). Knead the dough on a floured surface until cool enough for kids to touch. Separate the dough into as many colors as you want to make. Put just a few drops of coloring in each ball and knead until evenly mixed.

Peanut Butter Playdough- This is one that people always seem to make fun of me for. I always get the "you're crazy" or "no thanks" when I talk about this one but not with the others. I have never figured out why exactly but I do. Its a huge hit with the boys because they can play with it and snack on it at the same time and it tastes amazingly good!

1 cup peanut butter (Don't use the natural kind with the oil on top. Just trust me.)
1/2 cup honey
2 cups powdered sugar

Mix peanut butter and honey in a bowl and add powdered sugar until you get the right consistency. Let it sit for a few minutes to settle before playing. You can add more honey or powdered sugar as needed to make the consistency just right. Of course, if have a peanut allergy in the house sunflower butter works just as well. Store in an airtight container or plastic baggie with air sucked out of the bag.

Salt Dough- This is not going to taste good. Technically I guess its edible but seriously? Gross. This actually dries out pretty quick too so its more a one day dough. You can keep adding water to it to make it last a little longer though. You can also make ornaments and decorations out of this dough by cooking it.

1/4 cup salt
1 cup flour
1/4 cup water

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl then add water. Knead and squeeze the dough to make a clay consistency. You may need to add more water.

Sand Dough
- This is kind of like the Moon Sand stuff thats so hot right now. Not my favorite because its messy.

1/2 cup sand
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup boiling water
Mix ingredients together and knead. Carefully. You just put boiling water on it.

Gingerbread Play Dough- This one smells and tastes great. We use it most around the holidays but its nice all year. It makes a really cute class gift too.

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 tbsp. ground ginger
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup water
Mix together and knead until smooth.

For almost all of these (except the edible ones) you can divide into sections, then knead in food coloring (liquid or paste). Kids love making the white play dough change colors. Use unsweetened Kool-Aid for color and scent. Add glitter for sparkly play dough. Get creative with and have fun!

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