Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Gift of Fun Dough!

Are you stumped for a quick and easy gift for preschoolers that they will actually enjoy? Homemade playdough is such a great gift and totally customizable. I recently found this recipe for playdough on To the Moon and Back that I absolutely LOVE! One nice thing about it is that it requires no cream of tartar, as most homemade playdough recipes do, just plain old vinegar. It also has great texture and is long-lasting, even when left out by distracted little ones. My preschooler would give it two thumbs up if he knew what that meant! It's also quick to make; one color batch takes me around 10 minutes to complete.

For my gift giving purposes today, I cut the recipe in half. This amount yields about 8 ounces of dough. I made three different colors, pink, violet, and teal, and split each color in half for two gift bags.

The ingredients are simple: flour, salt, vinegar, oil, water, food coloring, and glitter (optional). If you eat whole foods and only have high dollar or fresh ground flour, buy a bag a cheap white flour and salt for this recipe. I don't usually have vegetable oil on hand, but olive oil works just as well.

Knife tip of gel coloring.
I start by measuring the liquid ingredients into the pan. Then I dip my knife tip into the gel food coloring and scoop out a pea-sized blob (or so). Then I swirl that into the liquid ingredients. Don't worry if the final color is too light because you can always knead in some more color at the end. I like my colors to be vibrant, so I put in a good bit of coloring to start.

Next I sift in my flour (if the flour is lumpy it can leave white bits in the final dough--but sifting is a preference) and add the salt. Then I add in some glitter. For these I used several different glitters I had on hand, some regular and some superfine. This would also be the time to add any spices you might want to make a scented dough. I have made both apple pie and pumpkin pie scented dough and it is heavenly! I tried adding peppermint essential oil to the dough, but the scent did not last. If I ever figure out how to make a peppermint scented dough, I will be in playdough heaven. I have also replaced a small amount of the flour with cocoa powder to make chocolate scented dough--yum! And I have replaced the water with chai tea to make chai scented dough (with the addition of ground spices as well). It's totally customizable!

Put the pan on the stove on medium heat and stir continuously until it forms a sticky ball. See original recipe for details. Scrape the sticky ball onto a clean countertop and run water into your pan to get it clean for the next batch. Let the pan sit in the sink while you knead the ball into a lovely smooth, playable consistency. If the dough color isn't dark enough, just place a bit of gel coloring onto the dough. Fold it to the inside and knead the dough until the color in incorporated. This may stain your hands, but it will come off. Shape your dough into a pleasant shape (maybe a cube) for gift-giving, or dump it into a lidded container, or play immediately! Allow the dough to air out until completely cooled or the container will steam up and leave moisture on the dough.

Ways to play: Make pretend cookies, make balls and snakes, or just let them have at it with whatever toys are lying around. My little one loves to stick animals and pipe cleaners in the dough. He's also into making snowmen with unused birthday candle for arms. Whatever, they do with it will be fun.

This playdough would be great as a stocking stuffers or neighborhood, friends or family gifts. I am so thankful to the folks at To The Moon and Back for posting this treasure of a recipe.

Give the gift of FUN this year!
Merry Christmas!

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