Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Putty and Clay Recipes to Keep the Kids Occupied

By Christina VanGinkel

With the older kids off to school, your older toddlers might be feeling a bit left out. They might even have a desire to go along with their older siblings to school, and no true understanding that before long it will be their turn. In the meanwhile, coming up with projects to keep them occupied is going to be a never ending cycle. Pulling out a few craft recipes that are both fun and kid friendly can help break up the early monotony of being left behind.

Yes, you can buy putty and kid safe clay in the store. All of these recipes have store counterparts for that matter. However, a big part of the attraction of these activities is that kids get to make them, and play with them. There is an innate sense in kids of wanting to know how things are created. Allowing them to measure and pour ingredients, and mix all of the ingredients up until they have a substance that they can then play with, lends a completely new level to their playtime. With that in mind, gather all of the ingredients beforehand, or add even another step, and help the kids create a shopping list to head to the store to buy what you all need to make these fun concoctions.

Once you have the ingredients gathered up, supply a few kid friendly mixing bowls and measuring cups, all preferably plastic (avoid glass that if dropped when they are mixing or measuring could break), and a few long handled wooden spoons. An apron is a big help too, especially when they decide that mixing with their hands is the best way to get good result, finally, a large, flat surface to work on, such as a countertop or table. A plastic tablecloth laid over whatever work surface you choose will enable you to clean up in a snap and keep much of the mess contained. If you are worried about spills on a floor, you could always move the tablecloth outdoors to a picnic table.

Child Safe Putty

The ingredients you will need for the putty are liquid starch and white glue. Elmer's School glue works great, or any off brand will suffice. Mixture rate is one part liquid starch to two parts white glue. In other words, if you use one cup of liquid starch, mix it with two cups white glue. Mix parts together well, kneading it much as one would any dough mixture. Be sure to allow the ingredients time to react with each other, thus creating the substance we all know and love as putty. Store in any airtight container, such as a Tupperware or Rubbermaid container, but avoid those plastic containers whose lids do not snap tightly closed, as it will dry out. Zip closed style bags work well too, but I recommend doubling them up if there is any chance the bags are not airtight. This will last quite some time, and is as fun to play with days later as it was the first day it was made.

Child Safe Clay

There are many recipes floating around for clay. The biggest concern with any of the recipes that I have found is that they can dry out. Store them somewhere cool, in a container with a tight fitting lid, clean up promptly after play, and discard when clay begins to dry out. This is a good excuse to make a fresh batch!

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups salt
3/4 cups water

Mix the dry ingredients together well, before adding water.

Slowly add water, stirring mixture, until consistency thicken, and then switch to kneading. Kids love this part almost as much as they do playing with the finished clay. If you think your mixture needs more water during this stage, add only a half a teaspoon at a time, as you can easily add to much water, turning your clay into a goopy mixture that is hard to handle. If you make several batches, color each batch with a drop or two of food color to liven things up. As stated before, be sure to store in an airtight container, or double thickness, zip closure style bags to keep your clay fresh for days, even weeks of play.

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