Friday, March 20, 2009

Natural playdough

Here in our house we loooveeeeee play dough and we tend to play with it in hour increments, 2 probably being a common number....
(oh, how I love you play dough!)
If I need to get things done without a stop and go rhythm, (i think you know what i mean if you have little ones), I place play dough on the table and watch honeypie go to town. I love watching her involved in her creative space, molding, building, completely absorbed in her own imagination.
(My favorite being when i found her one time roasting marshmallows over a campfire with a friend... all made out of play dough).

Not only does the store bought play dough dry too fast but really... i am a bit scared to find out what the ingredients in that tub really are. To keep buying it gets pricey, since we forget to close the lids properly way too often. I think that making play dough yourself not only saves the planet a little bit but it is also good for your pocket, its economical and just a super fun messy adventure that children love. Honeypie loves mixing colors, marblelizing the dough and seeing for example... how yellow and blue make green when mixing. You can also add essential oils to make the dough smell really good like lavender (for concentration) or even vanilla.
A good thing to remember too is that the store bought play dough contains wheat... so if your child is allergic to wheat, it is wonderful to be able to offer a gluten-free alternative.
Below I am including a recipe that works well for us and I am also including a gluten-free alternative recipe i got from the Celiac Sprue Association.

And... here are some of honeypie's recent dough creations....

Sculpting herself and a coo-coo baby, (don't ask...)

Real Homemade "Eco-Friendly" Play Dough

* 1 cup flour (not the self-rising kind)
* 1/2 cup salt
* 1 cup water
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar

First whisk all the ingredients in the pot to get all the lumps out. Turn the stove on to a low heat and keep mixing all the ingredients with a wooden spoon or spatula, keep stirring it to blend.
(It doesn't have to be on the stove for too long.)

The dough will be ready when it rolls into a ball easily (almost like bread dough).
(you might need to add a bit more flour if the dough is too sticky or a little more water if its getting too dry.)
Keep the dough fresh in an airtight container as the dough might get crumbly over time... so watch the consistency. Cream of tartar is the ingredient that creates the smooth texture in the dough and if not properly mixed the dough can get rather grainy or gritty.

If you'd like to add colors to the dough you can use food coloring either the liquid kind or gel. I recently found out about these natural vegetable decorating food colors by India Tree.
Though you can ofcourse make your own natural eco-friendly vegetable dyes by using pure beet pulp for pinks and purples, carrot pulp for orange color, or even spices like turmeric (yellow) or cinnamon (brown) ... experiment with tea, coffee and even spinash pulp!
**If making the food based dyes yourself, remember the durability of the dough lessens, as the dough might mold... though the salt tends to act as a natural preservative. So just keep a look out before little hands reach in.

No time to make this recipe? Not to worry!
Here is a wonderful eco-friendly dough made by ECO-KIDS. They offer a gluten-free playdough too, for kids with wheat allergies.
(Regular Play Doh, the popular children's modeling clay, contains gluten, which makes it unsafe for children with celiac disease.)

Here is also a recipe for gluten-free play dough i got from the Celiac Sprue Association website.

Gluten-free play dough

  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • Food coloring/dye
Mix all the ingredients in a pot. Cook and stir on low heat for 3 minutes or until mixture forms a ball. Cool completely before storing in a sealable plastic bag or container.
If it gets to dry, add a few drops of water or if it's too sticky add more rice flour and corn starch in equal amounts.

Some side thoughts...

***CSPI(the center for science in the public interest) had an iteresting article about artificial colourings, such as Tartrazine, (commonly listed as FD&C Yellow #5 on ingredients’ labels), they have been under scrutiny by various health officials around the world, as they are being linked to health concerns from allergies to ADHD triggers. The Canadian Medical Association journal had published a concern that tartrazine is a potentially hazardous dye. Yet, it still appears in various corn-based breakfast cereals, cookies, crackers and candies. Also red #40 has been linked to behavioral problems and hyperactivity in children.

That is more in the realms of "eating"... but it is good to know...

I'd love to hear from you!

Let me know if the project was fun or difficult or if you have a better recipe for the play dough.
I'd love to post it and share!

Happy sculpting !

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