Monday, September 6, 2010

Play-Time on Pennies

by Beth Druist

School started and my house is missing half of its children. While the older ones are busy with their reading’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic, my younger ones are wandering aimlessly around the house asking me constantly when the others will be home. So I have decided it is time to break out the cookbooks and find some homemade distractions. Here are my top three favorite cheap and easy boredom busters.

1. Homemade play dough/ modeling clay.

Play Dough

3 cups flour

1 1/2 cups salt

6 tsp cream of tarter

3 tbsp oil

3 cups water

Liquid food coloring


Stir salt into the water in a large pot until dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir constantly over medium heat until a ball forms by pulling away from the sides. Knead the dough mixture when cool enough to touch, until the texture matches play dough (1-2 minutes). Add desired food coloring.

Homemade Modeling Clay

2 cups salt

1 cup boiling water

1 cup cornstarch

Cold water

Bring salt and water to a boil. Pour cornstarch in a separate container and gradually pour in cold water in small amounts. Stir until smooth or of a liquid texture. Add liquid cornstarch to the boiled mixture and stir until mixture is very thick and transparent. Pour mixture onto waxed paper and allow to cool. Divide the clay mixture and color sections with food coloring. Create your designs and allow clay to dry into shape desired. Press out any cracks that may appear while clay is drying.

Leftover clay may be stored wrapped in waxed paper and refrigerated.


2. Homemade bubbles and bubble wands.

Bubble Solution

1/2 cup of dishwashing liquid (Dawn or Joy)

2 cups of water

2 teaspoons of sugar

This recipe works great. I’ve read other recipes that calls for glycerin, but have never tried them being that I don’t typically keep glycerin on my kitchen shelves. You can skip the sugar if you want to, however the bubbles do not last as long.

For bubble wands, I use zip ties or wire ties. These work fantastically and you can buy them anywhere from Walmart to the Dollar Store. Remember: the longer the wire tie, the bigger the bubble wand.

3. Homemade paints.

Finger Paints

1/2 cup cornstarch

3 Tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups cold water

liquid food coloring

Stir all the ingredients together except food coloring in a medium size pan until smooth. Cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes stirring continually. When the paint is smooth and thick, remove from heat and let cool. When cool, divide into separate containers and add colors. Stir and paint! Cover tightly to store.

Water Colors

3 teaspoons light corn syrup

6 tablespoons cornstarch

6 tablespoons baking soda

6 tablespoons white vinegar

liquid food coloring

Combine first four ingredients in a medium size bowl. Stir well. When it is done fizzing, separate into small containers such as baby food jars or a foam egg carton. Add as much food coloring as necessary to create the colors you desire. You can use immediately or allow to dry like store bought paints. If you want to keep them wet, be sure to cover tightly.

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