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Gingerbread Play Dough

It’s that time of year! The twinkling lights, the music playing in the stores, snuggling up on the couch to watch holiday-themed movies, the treats. . .

I saved the best for last; treats! I have so many fond memories of making and decorating cookies from when I was young. And now it’s something I just love doing with my own children during the holidays.

And a holiday favourite; GINGERBREAD! Being the playdough-loving mama that I am, of course I had to make a gingerbread play dough invitation for the kids.

And it was a HUGE hit. Whenever I bring out this tray, they play with it for at least 30-60 minutes making and decorating cookies for each other.

Ok- lets get to that recipe so you can whip yourself up a batch ASAP.

1 cup flour

1/4 cup salt

1 TBSP cream of tartar

1/2 TBSP cinnamon

1/2 TBSP ground ginger

1/2 TBSP nutmeg

1 cup water plus 1 TBSP

1 TBSP veg oil

Glycerin (a few drops to add shine)


Mix all the ingredients in a bowl- it should be quite wet; like pancake batter.  Next you will transfer it to a pan on the stove, set to low/medium heat.  Move it all around until it all gets cooked up.  You will notice a change in the texture and it will appear a bit darker in colour. Remove the dough from the pan when it is all cooked and wait for it to cool slightly before kneading it for a few minutes.


This dough smells soooo good! It’s not quite the same dark brown as real gingerbread… but I find if you add to many spices it dries the play dough out actually and leaves a bit of a residue on your hands while you play. So I rather have it a bit lighter in colour to avoid that.

I added some little wooden beads, but have done this with buttons as well and it’s so cute! The wooden and silicone stampers are fun and cute, but not a necessity. Just grab that gingerbread man cookie cutter and away you go! Enjoy!

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Valentine’s Day Play Dough

It’s February, and Valentine’s Day is right around the corner in case you weren’t aware!  It’s actually quite hard to miss it, as all the stores have had isles and isles of V-day paraphernalia out for what seems like ages already.  I seriously think the shelves were being stocked right after Christmas…can we not just take a break between holidays??  I’m not the type of person that goes completely all out for every “holiday” …but I will admit, I do like the idea of writing nice letters or notes to friends and family to let them know we care.  I’m also a sucker for a good play dough invitation, which bring us to this little set up that I put together with dollar store items I purchased last year.

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Ok – here it is again: my super amazing, no-fail, play dough recipe.  This recipe makes super-smooth play dough that will last months!  In a large mixing bowl combine the following ingredients (I usually do all the dry, then add the wet):

1 cup flour

1/4 cup salt

1 TBSP cream of tartar

1 cup water

1 TBSP veg oil

Glycerin (a few drops to add shine)

When you have it all mixed up, it’s going to be very wet; like pancake batter.  Next you will transfer it to a pan on the stove, set to low/medium heat.  Move it all around until it all gets cooked up.  You will notice a change in the texture and it will appear a bit darker in colour.

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After removing the dough from the pan, wait for it to cool slightly, then kneed it for a few minutes.  I decided to add the colouring at this point.  You could add it before you cook the dough, but I figured if I did it this way, I could cook it all in one batch instead of two (because I wanted two different colours).  So, I added a few drops of food colouring to one of the balls and kneaded it out.  Then, I simply added a few Valentine’s Day items from the dollar store and let the kids’ imaginations go from there!

This silicone heart mold has ten spaces, which is too perfect!  Play dough is a great way to incorporate math into your play; it’s a great opportunity to learn new concepts and to practice skills.  I asked him to show me “two” and Emy was able to pop two little hearts in.  “Now how many more to make five?” “We have to add three more”.  If you don’t have little heart counters, you could roll the play dough into little balls, or even use other items such as buttons.

Easton is making cookies and used the little hearts to decorate them.  More math was used here as he decorated the smallest cookie with one heart, the next biggest one with two hearts, and so on.  Then he ordered the cookie from smallest to biggest.

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Play dough is always a hit in our house, we were able to incorporate a lot of math during our play.  It wasn’t something I intended, it just sort of happened naturally.  I recommend seeing where your child goes when they play and following their lead.

Happy playing!

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Wintery-White Play Dough

We have had a few good snowfalls here in the nation’s capital of Canada so it officially looks and feels like WINTER.  The first month of snow is always kind of nice…until it lasts for another 4-5 months!  But this morning was one of those perfect snowy days… snow softly falling, no wind, not too cold; a great day to be outside.  After lots of running around outside, sliding on the sleds, and making snow-angels, I was inspired to make this wintery-white play dough.  Add some animals and some loose parts and you have a great activity that promotes fine motor skills, creativity, problem solving, numeracy, language, as well as personal and social skills.

This was the perfect activity after coming in from outside time.  We made little houses for the animals which lead to lots of pretend play.  We even played a game where we matched the footprints to the right animals.

This recipe is so easy and works every single time.  The play dough is silky-smooth and if stored in an air-tight container, it also lasts MONTHS!  you will need to cook the play dough with this recipe, but trust me, it’s so worth it!  So grab yourself a little helper and get started.

Here’s what you need:

1 cup flour

1/4 cup salt

1 TBSP cream of tartar

1 cup water

1 TBSP veg oil

Glycerin (a few drops to add shine)

Mix everything except the glycerin together in a bowl, making sure to break up any clumps.  It should be the consistency of cake batter or pancake batter.  This is where you could add colour if you wish, we chose to leave it white.

 

Next, transfer the mixture to a pan on the stove and set it to low/med.  Keep moving it around and you will begin to notice that the dough it getting a bit more firm and cooking.  it will start to look like a bit of a gooey mess, but just flatten it all out and then flip it over trying to get it all cooked.  When it’s done, put the dough on the counter to cool.  When it’s cool enough, knead the dough, this is when I added the glycerin.  It gives the play dough such a lovely shine and makes it silky-smooth.

I added a few loose parts (jewels from the dollar store), some arctic animals (Safari brand from Michael’s stores in Canada), snowflake cookie cutters (Ikea), and our play dough tools (Melissa and Doug).

Enjoy!

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Fall Play Dough Activity

Fall is definitely in the air here in the Nation’s Capital of Canada.  We have been enjoying getting outside and collecting leaves, acorns, and just not being so hot in general!  It was time for a new batch of play dough and a  Fall-themed invitation to play seemed like the obvious choice.  This play dough provides a great sensory experience for your little ones as they explore the soft squishy dough with their fingers while enjoying the warm and comforting fragrance of Fall.  IMG_8928

I got out all the ingredients and enlisted my trusty helper. I have made soooo much play dough to confidently tell you I have finally found the best recipe and the best method.  This recipe does require cooking- but it makes the play dough last so incredibly long and gives it a silky smooth feel.

Here is what you will need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 TBSP cream of tartar (found in the baking section)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil
  • Food Colouring
  • 1 TBSP your favourite fall scent (cinnamon OR pumpkin spice work well)
  • glycerin (not mandatory, but this makes it so shiny an smooth)

 

First, you are going to combine all the dry ingredients; the flour, salt, cream of tartar, and your favourite fall spice.  (We just used cinnamon this time, as I didn’t have any “pumpkin pie spice” on hand.)  You can do this in a bowl, right in your pan (if it is deep with high edges), or even in a stand-mixer.  I prefer the bowl for quick and easy clean up.  I do not like doing it right in the pan as I find it tricky to really get the dough all mixed up properly.

Next, add the oil and the water.  You can put your food colouring into the water or simply mix it right into the dough.  Finally, add a few drops of glycerin and give it all a good mix.  Your dough should be “wet” and sticky.

Now you will transfer your dough to a pan on the stove that is set to medium/ low heat. I like to flatten all the dough out in the pan with my spatula.  Wait about 15 seconds then flip it all over.  You will start to see darker patches on the dough; that is the dough cooking.  Flatten it all out again and then flip.  Keep doing this until all the dough is cooked.  Then remove the dough from the pan and put it on the counter to cool.  I usually have very little patience for it to cool completely, so after about 5 minutes I start to knead the (hot- ouch) dough.  Do this for a few minutes; it should not be sticky at all.

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When the play dough has cooled enough for your child to use, just pair it with some loose parts, acorns, fall-themed jewels, rolling pins, cookie cutters, or whatever you have around your house.  My kids have been LOVING this play dough.  I love it too as it provides so many opportunities for learning and development.

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They have been practicing fine motor control as they use their little fingers to mold and manipulate the dough.  They use their imaginations as they use the open ended materials with the dough (cakes, a steamroller, a fortress, an owl).  It has been a nice quiet activity for them to do on their own, together, or with me.  We have even incorporated math into our play with games making little pumpkins and counting them together, adding more and taking some away.

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Enjoy!