Thursday, October 9, 2008

How to Make Playdough

As I've mentioned before, it is imperative that I keep my preschoolers busy in the mornings so that their older brothers can concentrate on their school work. And, of course, Jordan loves "projects." So yesterday, Jordan, Joey, and I decided to make some play dough. This is a really easy recipe, and the finished play dough will last for several weeks if stored in a zippy bag. We used to make this every couple months or so before we moved. Here's the ingredient list:

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
food coloring for adding color
(Powdered kool-aid (the kind that doesn't have sugar added yet) is also good for coloring, and gives it a nice fruity scent as well. I've only used it once, though...I've found that if your play dough smells like tropical punch and you have a 2-year-old, well, it's likely to get eaten.)

First, gather your ingredients.

Next, gather your eager helpers. Neatly combed hair, while nice for pictures, is obviously not strictly required.

Have one of your helpers carefully measure one cup of flour. You get extra points if more flour ends up in the cup than on the table.

Dump it in your pan.

Next, have a helper measure 1/2 cup salt.

Add this to the pan as well. If you have stubborn salt, your helper may decide to bang repeatedly on the bottom of the measuring cup to ensure all of the salt makes it into the pan. This is okay.

Now at this point we actually had to start over. I realized I had brought the wrong size measuring spoon to the table for the next step, and while I was off correcting this error, my smallest little helper decided to dump the water in with everything else and make a mess. So after cleaning the pan and re-doing the first two steps...

Measure 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar. I poured some into my 1/2 cup measuring cup to make it easier for my helpers to scoop. Add to the pan.

Stir all the powdered ingredients together. It works best if you let each helper stir for exactly the same amount of time. Like down to the millisecond. Trust me...while it doesn't matter in the least as far as the play dough is concerned, it's best for sibling relations.

Joey's turn...

Add food coloring to the water. I use paste colors, which Jordan is dipping into with a butter knife here. The liquid drops work too; they just give a lighter color.

Mixing in the color...

Again, keep the stirring fair...

I added the 1 tablespoon of oil myself. While I appreciate a good mess as much as the next person, having my industrial-sized bottle of vegetable oil dumped out and dripping all over my dining room just didn't seem very appealing at the time.

Now we move to the kitchen. Put the pan on the stove on medium-high (or so) heat, and add the water/oil/food coloring mixture.

Let your helpers stir...

And stir...

It really doesn't take very long...within 3-5 minutes, your soupy mix will turn into this big glob that will ball up and pull away from the sides of the pan.

Turn off your stove and dump the glob on your (hopefully clean) counter. It will be hot, but you can knead it almost immediately...

And then you'll have this nice, smooth, squishy play dough!

Divide into two equal pieces, or as many pieces as you have helpers.

Then distribute them to your helpers.

Provide cookie cutters, plastic utensils, rolling pins, or anything else you think might be fun and let them have at it!

And hopefully, they will sit quietly and play with it long enough for you to teach your older children how to spell, recognize adjectives, or whatever else is on your schedule for next half-hour!


kathy castor said...

I do so admire your mothering skills! You have motivated to make playdough with Audrey (I only have one granddaughter able to make playdough--Vivian would just eat it!).


Stefanie said...

I'm lovin' the hair! Too funny!! I tried to make playdough ONCE and I actually messed it up somehow. I know you're probably thinking to yourself..."how do you mess up playdough?" But then again...this is ME we're talking about.

Kansas Mom said...

Stefanie, I once made Jello that didn't gel, so I know I could mess up playdough. I'm going to try to make it anyway, though, perhaps next week. My daughter especially loves to help "make" things, though I think she's mostly interested in licking the spoon (discovered as a great joy once when we made brownies and a constant request since).

I know how quickly messes can be made when trying to grab something, too. We've had many a snack end up on the floor when my back is turned. Luckily a fate no brownie bowl has suffered...yet.

Jenny said...

You should try again, Stef. Jack would love it, I'm sure. The first time I tried to make it from memory I used 1/2 CUP of oil instead of 1 tablespoon. Needless to say, it was a very greasy failure!

Jenny said...

Kansas Mom-Oh, yes, licking the beaters/spoon/whatever is a big thrill here too! Oh, and having to throw out a cup of flour and half a cup of salt is one thing--having to throw out a bowl of brownies would make me cry! I'm glad you haven't had to do that...yet!

Stefanie said...

Hey...your boys' side photos make them look like they just fell out of a bag of M&M's. I love 'em!

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