Thursday, February 11, 2010

Homemade Play-doh

This is the only homemade art recipe that has ever worked for me. (I have to say it may just be me). I won't even elaborate at the disaster that was my attempt at making finger paints my first week teaching - think rotten eggs and an entire Kindergarten and Pre-k evacuated. Oh yes. I did that. :) This recipe, however, is awesome. I love this play-doh. It gets softer as you work it, molds perfectly, and is completely safe (though not too tasty) to eat. Thank you to my friend Heather for sharing it with me.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I used canola. I wouldn't advise using olive oil)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1+ tablespoons of food coloring

  • Mix all the ingredients in a sauce pan adding the food coloring last. (I found that this worked best if I stirred everything up a bit before turning on the stove.) DO NOT PREHEAT!
  • Heat over medium to medium low heat stirring constantly. This will get tough. Keep a partner on hand to switch off with.
  • The play-doh will start coming off the side of the pan a little. Stir just a minute or so longer.
  • Remove the play-doh from the pan and lay it on the wax paper to cool down enough to touch.
  • Knead until smooth
  • Once cooled seal in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.

Itsy Bitsy Spider

This activity was a hit with my 2-3 year old class. The younger ones needed a little help with the pipe cleaners, but it was a great way to work their fine motor skills, and teach them a little about spiders.

What you'll need:

  • Give the children a palm (your palm) sized chunk of play-doh.
  • For older children you can have them work it into a ball, but you will probably have to help the younger ones. Wrap their hands around the play-doh to show them how to mold it, and then show them how to roll it in their hands or on the table to help round it out.
  • Next give them eight pipe cleaners and have them stick them into the top of the play-doh any way they want.
  • Once they're finished, flip over the play-doh, spreading the pipe cleaners to the sides, and have them push it down with the palms of their hands.
  • Finally, place a bowl of Cheerios in the middle of the table and let them press as many as they want down into the top of the spider. They will probably eat more than they place on the spider, but that's all part of the fun.

Here's what one of our final ones looked like. I personally like color, but you could definitely use black play-doh and pipe cleaners if you want a more traditional looking spider.


This is a neat way to get kids writing and spelling. It started out with Sebastian writing little notes to his sister telling her not to touch the TV, stove etc. (She's only 1 1/2 and obviously can't read, but we didn't mention that :) )All we did was take 2''X3'' index cards and write labels on them for items around the house, then attached them to the items with tape. He already knew his letter sounds pretty well so this was a fun way of working on more complex phonics.

Through this activity we reviewed:

1. The "oo" sound in book
2. The "ll" sound in wall
3. The "sh" sound as in trash
4. The "ch" sound in chair
5. The "ck" sound in clock
6. The "st" sound in stove
7. And the silent "e" in gate.

It was so fun, he had no idea he was learning. ;)