Here’s a fun craft that we’ve been making for a few years now — watermelon playdough.
This is a craft that is great for Sensory Integration work (with the bumps, the scent, the squishing and the warmth when you first make it) and it’s just plain fun.
1. Save watermelon seeds, rinse and bake until dried and slightly darkened. We do this since it’s supposed to keep birdseed from sprouting and we don’t want sprouted seeds in our playdough. You can also just use black pony beads or leave the seeds as is.
2. Mix 1 cup flour, ½ cup salt, 1 cup water, 2 Tablespoons oil, 2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar and 1 (3 ½ ounce) package watermelon jello in a saucepan. We didn’t have watermelon flavor (I never buy jello but people always seem to give me enough that I have a perpetual stash for crafts) so we used strawberry. Any red variety will give you the right color, though it might smell a bit different. Koolaid should also work.
3. Cook over medium heat until it thickens into a ball that pulls away from the side of the pan, stirring constantly (about 5 minutes).
4. Dump onto a floured surface and cool until you can touch it. Dump watermelon seeds on and knead well.
5. Play! Store in an airtight container. We keep ours in a ziplock bag in the fridge and it lasts a very long time.
Note: This won’t taste good since there’s no sugar but it’s nontoxic in case anybody tries to lick it!
I posted about our puffy paint craft yesterday and several folks asked here and on Facebook if it could be done in a regular oven.
I looked online and couldn’t find anybody who knew if it could be done without a microwave, so we did a little experiment ourselves this morning.
The answer — yes!
We had some leftover puffy paint mixed up from last night and I put some dabs on a scrap of cardboard. I put it in the oven at 350 for about 3 minutes.
The paint puffed up and hardened pretty much the same way that it did in the microwave.
The paint also got a little bit darker than it was originally (the microwaved stuff seemed to retain its original colors).
WARNING: The cardboard got quite hot after only 3 minutes. Please watch very closely if you do this in an oven!
Our puffy paint was rather thick since it was leftover from last night (Alex had some fun squirting water in it so it then so it didn’t all dry out overnight). Thinner paint might need another couple of minutes in the oven.
Be sure an adult does this portion of the craft.
Someone else asked about whether this would work drying out in the sun. We don’t have much for sun today so I’ll leave that for someone else to experiment with.
I’ve seen recipes for homemade puffy paint many times over the years, but I never took the time to make it with the kids until today.
What a shame I waited this long!
The kids had a blast and developed lots of ways to use it.
Even Harry Potter crests and pendants!
The original instructions were to mix one tablespoon self-rising flour, one tablespoon salt, food coloring and enough water to make a paste, once for each color.
Since I made up little cups for four different children (life is too short to listen to “Mom, Alex mixed all the colors into brown!” and “Hey! Victoria used all the red up!” all day!), I soon realized that it made much more sense to just mix up:
- One part self rising flour
- One part salt
- Enough water to make a paste
and THEN divide it into muffin tins or ice cube trays and add food coloring!
Either way, all you do is give the kids Q-tips or paint brushes and instruct them to dab it on cardboard.
We used recycled Priority Mail boxes for our canvases, cut into small squares. You want a nice sturdy canvas.
When the picture is finished, microwave it for about 10 seconds (we did 5 second intervals and occasionally needed longer for really thick and wet paintings).
All four kids had a blast using this stuff and they used it off and on the whole day and into the night.
Do you end up with a billion windows up
for things you want to read, do and get back to
when you surf the web?
Here’s 10 links that have slowed down my browsing lately.
1. Books for Treats encourages folks to hand out books instead of candy.
My mother did that when I was a kid.
I was so embarrassed.
The kids were always thrilled.
Even the big kids.
2. I just wrote an article about MilkShare
and think it is one of the niftiest organizations ever.
They match up moms with extra breast milk
with moms whose babies need it.
You can look for moms in your town or ship it
(recipients pay the costs).
What a fantastic way to use extra milk
and help a baby thrive.
3. I love the idea of using some of our new pumpkin puree
to make these pumpkin pancakes. Yum!
4. I want to make this monster flesh with the kids tomorrow.
It looks super fun
(especially when you pour vinegar on it!)
and there’s no Borax in it.
Most of you know how I feel about having children play with Borax.
Be sure to read the "why it works" page!
5. Necco Wafers are going all natural.
I’m all for any candies that don’t have artificial dyes and flavors!
They’re fun for making gingerbread houses too.
6. Speaking of candy, I wrote up
10 things to do with extra Halloween candy.
I’ve been told that there’s no such thing
as extra Halloween candy
but I’m all for at least finding another use for the stuff nobody really likes.
7. These sweet felt tissue cases from Martha Stewart
look like such a great holiday gift for the kids to make!
Victoria wants to make some ASAP.
8. Okay, another pumpkin recipe,
this time for pumpkin spice cookies.
What is it about fall that makes me pumpkin crazy?
It’s written for vegans and non, too.
9. I’m dyeing to do this fun craft with the kids soon.
10. Look at these gorgeous leaves!
We have to do this craft too.
Wouldn’t they look lovely in a window?
And with that, chickadees, I’m off to bring two bowls of ice cream
to bed with my sweetie.
Any sites clogging up all your browser windows lately?
I’ve posted before about how I stock up on Kool-aid when it’s on sale for crafts like kool-aid playdough and scratch & sniff watercolors. Yesterday I pulled out the orange and the purple flavors to do a craft we stumbled on years ago here….
Scented Halloween watercolors
Just mix one packet of unsweetened drink mix with about one tablespoon of water and paint!
Grape looks like black when it’s this concentrated and the orange and nice and bright.
It’s completely nontoxic, of course, and makes the house smell quite artificially fruity!
But it doesn’t taste so great!
The kids had a blast experimenting with making foldover prints, dropping drips and blowing on them and other paint techniques too.
It was cheap, fruity Halloween fun.
We’re getting ready to leave for a family trip to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. I’ll post a list of 10 ways to make the day magical tomorrow and then we’ll be off to the U.P. until around Friday. Daryl and I went years ago with a friend and accidentally found this tiny beach named "Little Girl’s Point." It was filled with agates and we’ve talked to the kids about it over the years. They fell in love with the idea of beach combing for agates and we decided to go visit again, plus see some of the other wonderful sites in the area.
For now, here’s a few crafts that caught my eye on the web lately….
Here’s a fun and easy idea to occupy little ones. My kids always loved our geo board but I never thought of making our own or of using hair ties.
My kids would love making a body flip book like this one! I think I’ll print out the supplies so they can make some during the car ride. One of the big kids can make one for Alex, too. I think the humor will appeal to him. :)
Make your own Moon Sand! This simple recipe calls for colored play sand, corn starch and water. I wonder if you could use your own sandbox sand with corn starch and colored water to make some cool moldable sand along the same lines? In any case, it looks like a blast!
Have you seen or done any fun crafts lately? Please share!
Want to get lost in some links for a while? The Long Thread has links to 50 crafts, recipes and projects to keep kids busy. Truthfully, none of these are really new to most mamas and the majority seem to be done by mamas themselves or are really not very realistic for kids (I loved the sounds of the newspaper beads until I read the steps involving boiling water, sanding and drilling each little bead after… not so much a kid craft!). Still, it will remind you of all the possibilities on lazy days. My personal favorites are the footprint stepping stones, kid-made kaleidoscopes and braided scrap necklaces.
Here’s another fun web site to play with! Thisissand is a simple little program that lets you create pictures with grains of virtual sand that fall from the cursor. You change colors as you like and move the cursor around to plot your picture. When you’re finished, you can submit it to their gallery. There is a gentle sound of sand falling as you "pour" and the whole thing is very calming! My kids made some very elaborate pictures with this today.
(Hint: Click on the tiny gray box in the upper left corner for instructions.)
If you want to follow it with some real life crafts, put some salt in a jar with a few drops of food coloring and have the kids shake it until it’s well blended. Spread it on a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes and cool. Do up a few colors and then let them use glue and paint brushes to create a sand art picture of their own. You can also make layered "sand" jars or use this as really inexpensive glitter!
Magical mama Susan shared this great craft recipe many moons ago…
Powdered Clothes Dye (any color) like Rit ( I used tempura powdered paint )
1/4 Teaspoon rubbing Alcohol
5 Tablespoons Glycerin
Mix dye with alcohol to the consistency of thin cream. Add glycerin. Stir until well blended. This makes enough to replenish a stamp pad several times. Pour ink over stamp pad. I made a stamp pad with a sponge and a plastic container.
Cut shapes with potatoes and the kids stamp away.
Notes from Alicia:
You can get glycerine in the pharmacy section of most stores.
You can often find dye packages at thrift stores and garage sales.
I’m not sure how much of the dye you use. I’m assuming a small amount, since you add it to the alcohol and it’s a tiny bit of alcohol. One package of dye would last for eons in that case!
Thanks again, Susan!
Okay, after this I promise to stop sharing playdough recipes for a while! I just had to make a note to try these recipes and I thought I might as well do it here in case anybody else liked the sounds of them too……..
Oatmeal Play Dough
2 cups smooth peanut butter
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups powdered milk
2/3 cups honey
Optional -Rice Krispes, Coconut Sprinkles, chocolate chips, Red Hots, etc.
Mix ingredients until combined.
Lay down wax paper.
Store in air-tight container.
Cloud Play Dough
1 cup water,
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil,
6 cup flour
Add a few drops of food coloring to water.
Combine water, oil and flour in a large bowl. Knead well.
Add more water if necessary in small amounts until the dough is soft and stretchy.
Cloud playdough should be used on a washable surface as it is very greasy.
4 cups unsifted all purpose flour
1 cup salt
1/4 cup instant coffee
1 1/2 c warm water
Dissolve the coffee in the warm water.
In another bowl, mix the flour and the salt.
Make a well and add 1 cup of the coffee water into it.
Mix with a fork or with your hands until smoother.
Add more coffee water as needed: dough should be smooth not sticky or crumbling.
Store in air tight container.
When you’re done making figures, bake in oven for 1 hour at 300 degrees or until hard.
A coat or 2 of shellac keeps it well preserved for longer lasting gifts.