A couple weeks back it was frigid and unwelcomely cold outside. Even the beagle could barely stand to go out for a pee let alone Xavier or I lasting more than five minutes at the toboggan hill. Needless to say, the days felt a little long and we were coming down with a bout of cabin fever. We built, modified and rebuilt our favorite Lego sets, we did laundry, we read, we tidied, we did puzzles, and we indulged in a little too much Netflix. Then comes the time where we need to liven things up, the outcome is always the same: we make a batch or two of our most favorite, tried and true, delicious smelling Best Ever Playdough. And then we hit the internet looking for the next best thing to create, build, or eat (which is mostly for me).
When looking for fresh and stimulating ideas for play I have three criteria that must be met: 1) Xavier must be able to participate in the process, 2) It has to keep him busy for at least double the time it took to put together and, 3) The project must unreservedly be quick to clean up. Our absolute best discovery during the deep freeze was SLIME! While all my criteria was met, one problem ensued. I couldn't stop playing with the slime. It was everything I could have hoped for and more when it comes to tactile play. There was no mess (save a few dishes) and it stores and keeps easily (we're going on three weeks now for two of our batches). We made yet another batch today and I got to thinking how much fun it would be to give all the measured ingredients, packaged as a little kit, as a gift? We have a birthday party this weekend for a little buddy and we're going to do just this! I'll be sure to post pictures to my Instagram page of how the gift comes together!
Slime aka Squish (Xavier's name for this stuff)
I can't say enough how much fun this simple project is. Sensory play meets SCIENCE! It's like a two for one except I have no idea what the science is. If there's someone out there that knows, please feel free to enlighten me.
What you'll need:
- Food colouring (the Club House brand makes really awesome neon food colouring which we used)
- 4 oz. bottle of white craft glue (we used the Dollar Store brand and it worked like a charm. Some recipes call for Elmer's brand, I say I like spending only a dollar)
- One medium sized glass bowl and one smaller glass bowl
- A tablespoon (your regular flatware works just fine here, no panic)
- 1 ½ c. water
- 1 tsp. Borax (this is widely available in Canada, I bought mine at Safeway. If you've never bought this, don't panic at the size of the box if you go out to purchase exclusively for this DIY, I love using the stuff in my laundry)
- 1 medium or large size zip lock baggie for storage (just use whatever you've got)
- An eager little helper that can stay focused (or not) for five minutes
- Optional, a glass of white wine for the adult participant. This could be a reward of sorts for feeling like parent of the year for making this mind-blown-awesome DIY
What to do:
- In the smaller glass bowl measure 1 tsp. of Borax and add ½ cup of warm water. Stir till dissolved. Set aside. Don't use the same spoon in the following step.
- Pour the 4 oz. bottle of craft glue into the larger glass bowl. Add 8-10 drops of food colouring to the glue. Mix till the color is evenly blended with the glue. Add 1 cup of warm water. Mix thoroughly. Take a full minute with this step to ensure everything is evenly mixed. You shouldn't see streaks of the glue or color. If you do, keep mixing. This is where the little helper comes in handy.
- Add the Borax mixture to the glue mixture including the undissolved little bits at the bottom of the bowl. Count to ten with your little helper to let it set up for a sec.
- You'll see the slime starting to form. Using a spoon, pull the liquid from around the edges of the slime in to the center of the bowl. You'll know what I mean as you're doing it. In my experience of making four whole batches, the more you work the slime here the better it'll come together/turn out. Once you've got a good mound going in your bowl, make a claw with your hand and really work it, massage it, knead it. As soon as it seems the slime isn't puling in anymore water it's ready. Pour excess water away.
- Et voilà, Slime! Now start the process all over again so you have your own batch to play with.
For the Best Ever Playdough
This playdough is full on sensory play. It smells fantastic and has a squishy feel that doesn't leave your hands mega gritty from the salt. If this playdough is kept in an airtight container and stored quickly after play, I've managed to keep it around for about two weeks.
This playdough + cookie cutters + kids craft scissors + a butter knife = A solid half hour of great, creative play (aka just enough time to get caught up on Lainey Gossip).
What you'll need:
- Medium sized pot
- Wooden spoon
- 1 package of your favorite Kool Aid 6 g. Drink Mix packet
- 1 c. flour
- 2 tsp. Cream of Tartar (this can be a needle in a haystack to find in the spice aisle at your grocery store, and 8 out of 10 employees will have no clue what you're talking about. I don't use Cream of Tartar on a regular (never) basis in my cooking, it's used exclusively for this playdough recipe. So be forewarned, the cost of this stuff will make you gag)
- ⅓ c. table salt
- 1 c. tepid water
- 1 tbsp. cooking oil (I use canola, vegetable or sunflower oil here)
- Piece of parchment paper to work the playdough
- Airtight container to store the playdough (this is what I love to use and looks adorable on Xavier's little desk)
What to do:
- Into the pot go all ingredients except for the water and oil. Give a stir just so you start to see the colored specks of the Kool Aid evenly mixed throughout.
- Add water and oil to the flour mixture. Turn on stove top to med-high heat and stir.
- Stir till the playdough forms a ball and is pulling away from the pot, this usually takes a full minute or two. Once you've got your ball formed in the pot, remove from heat immediately.
- Transfer the ball to your parchment lined surface and give it a good knead. You'll feel the playdough becoming softer and more uniform in texture. Careful, it'll be hot and definitely too hot for little fingers to help out here.
- Once the playdough is worked and cooled, pass it along to the sweet one(s) patiently waiting.