If you know kids like mine, they could eat and sleep in playdough. Now if you are like me, you cringe when they ask to play with it. It gets everywhere, on the floor, in the carpet, in their clothes, in their mouth. But they love to play with it and it’s a very creative outlet.
I came up with a solution for part of the playdough problem when I was teaching Kindergarten a few years back. I wanted to save at least my tables from getting ground in dough, so I had the children make placemats.
You could just use a regular old placemat from the store or I have used a silicon mat which works great, but how much more fun is playing with playdough on your own self-made placemat?
Get out any sturdy art paper, or I use 12×12 Cardstock paper, and have the kids draw, place stickers, or paste images and designs on the paper. They can add any kind of trimmings or extras. When they are done, take it to a Copy Center, like the UPS Store, and get it laminated. It may cost from $.50 to $1.50 per foot, so it may be up to $1-3 per place mat, depending on how big you make it. (You can buy Self-laminating paper from a craft store, but it is not as thick and sturdy.)
Now the kids can use it as their playdough placemat. The placemat can be used for many other things too, like using markers or crayons to save your table, or even for dinner. You could also decorate their placemat with letters or numbers, or other educational things, or even a big picture of your family. Ours are double-sided with their names on the front and numbers on the back.
Here is the best recipe ever for homemade playdough. I do like regular store bought playdough, but this recipe is so easy, that I make it more often than I think to buy it at the store.
Play Dough Recipe (this can be halved for smaller ball)
2 c. Flour
½ c. Salt
2 c. Water
2 T. Vegetable Oil
¼ c. Cream of Tartar (found in spice section)
Pour all ingredients into a large saucepan. Food coloring can be added here if desired, 5-7 drops. Turn to med-high heat and stir constantly until the mix becomes very warm and starts to form together, about 3-5 minutes. Do not over heat, it will burn. Continue stirring until the mix forms into a playdough ball. Remove from heat and pour ball onto a wax paper sheet. Let cool for a few minutes and then knead until soft, 2-3 minutes. Food coloring can also be added during the kneading process as well, especially if you want to split the dough and use 2 or more colors. I suggest wearing baggies over your hands if doing this. Store your play dough in a ziplock bag and in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months, or until little white spots develop.
If you want to make play dough in more colors than just one, visit this post on More Playdough Fun. Try it, I promise this recipe is easier than it sounds. Then if your daughter takes a bite out if it, like mine, it’s edible. YUK!