Some playdough and modeling clay for children is not cheap. Even if you do find inexpensive playdough, some parents are concerned about the materials used in the playdough (artificial colors, etc.). And if you make your own, your child can participate in making it. Here are some recipes.
1. Basic Salt Dough
This is a good one to make with your children, as it does not involve the stove.
In a bowl, combine 1 cup of table salt with 1 1/3 cup of water. Add a few drops of food coloring to the water if you want to make colored dough. After the salt dissolves, gradually stir in 3 cups of white, all-purpose flour (don’t use self-rising). You may add more water or flour to get a playdough-like consistency.
Salt dough can be used to make three-dimensional sculptures, or rolled out and cut into shapes. Salt dough can be allowed to air-dry, but it does have a tendency to break down over time, especially in humid environments. To help prevent this and make it more permanent, you can bake the salt dough shapes and sculptures in a 200 degree oven for an hour or until it becomes hard. Air-dried or oven-dried salt dough can be painted.
Store unused salt dough in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
2. Traditional Cooked Playdough
Make sure this mixture is allowed to cool before you or your child begins to work with it.
In a saucepan, mix:
* 1 cup flour
* 1/2 cup salt
* 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 1 cup water
* Food coloring (you can also mix in unsweetened, powdered drink mix to add color and scent)
Cook this mixture over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. It will eventually begin to pull away from the edges of the pan and form a ball. When it does, remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to cool completely. Store in airtight containers.
3. No-Cook Playdough
For a playdough that you don’t have to cook, try this recipe.
In a bowl, mix the following ingredients with your hands:
* 1 cup table salt
* 1 1/2 cups flour
* 1/4 cup oil (such as olive or salad oil)
* 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
* 3/4 cup water
* Food coloring
Once you have a cohesive lump of white dough, divide it into several portions and work food coloring of your choice into each portion. Store in airtight containers (baby food jars work well).
Modeling clay can also be made at home. Try mixing the following ingredients in a saucepan in this order:
* 2 cups of baking soda
* 1 cup cornstarch
* 1 1/4 cups cold water
* Food coloring
Like playdough, cook this over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the clay is mushy and soft like mashed potatoes. Remove saucepan from heat and pour the clay mixture into a shallow baking pan and cover it with a damp cloth. When the clay cools, it should be the right consistency to work. This clay should be stored in the refrigerator in airtight containers and brought up to room temperature before using.