The following is by contributor Christen Babb of Nurture Baby.
Are there certain times of the day when you are not able to give your children your undivided attention? I confess to having those times. For example, times when I’m preparing dinner or nursing my six-month old son, I can’t have both eyes on my three year old.
The thought of dragging out the entire craft drawer to keep her company while I’m preparing dinner (read: disastrous kitchen table at 6 pm) makes me break out into hives, but giving in and turning on the television for a couple hours doesn’t make me feel good either.
So what’s a mom to do?
We’ve put together some easy recipes for homemade play dough and silly putty as a remedy for those “in-between” times. These handcrafted, squishy globs will foster your toddler’s imagination, inspire creativity, hold their attention, and here’s the kicker, do so with a minimal mess.
My three year old daughter can sit at the table and safely squish away while I’m preparing a meal for the family. She currently likes to make “pretend waffles for the whole family” as seen in photo above.
Homemade Play Dough
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup water
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
food coloring (optional)
Mix flour, salt and oil and slowly add the water. Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until dough becomes stiff. Turn out onto parchment paper and let cool. Knead the dough with your hands until smooth and pliable. Divide into balls of dough and knead in food coloring if desired.
Store in airtight container. Play dough will last for several months.
Homemade Silly Putty
2 parts Elmer’s® glue
1 part liquid starch (recommend Sta-Flo®)
1 quart Ziploc® bag
Pour glue and a few drops of food coloring (optional) into Ziploc® bag. Slowly add liquid starch knead in plastic bag until thoroughly mixed. This could take 10-15 minutes to reach the consistency of silly putty. If mixture seems too thick, add glue; too thin, add more starch.
Divide and store in airtight containers, such as leftover plastic Easter eggs. (These also make a great, inexpensive party favors!)
Here are a few tips to making the most of these low-maintenance crafts:
- Put play dough and silly putty in an accessible, toddler-friendly location in easy to open containers.
- Pair play dough container with a rolling pin and kid-friendly cookie cutters.
- Designate these items just for those “in-between-times” so your child looks forward to using them.
Rest assured, both recipes are non-toxic and technically edible for those curious toddlers with an urge to “taste” everything. :)
And if you are feeling adventurous, I have an extra recipe for homemade finger paint. Mind you, this won’t help you during those “in-between” times, but it can make for a fun, messy weekend project.
Homemade Finger Paint
3 cups water
1 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon glycerin (found in most craft stores)
Bring 2 cups of water to boil in medium saucepan. Dissolve corn starch in remaining 1 cup of water in a separate bowl. Remove boiling water from heat and add cornstarch mixture. Return to heat, stirring constantly until mixture is clear and thick, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in glycerin.
After mixture is cooled, divide into separate bowls and add food coloring. Finger paint is best used immediately.
How about you? How do you occupy your children during those “in-between” times?