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Activities for the Holidays: Home Made Play Dough Fun

Gavin will be on school holidays until the end of the year after this week. Yes, that means 7 whole weeks of Gavin and Gareth – 24/7. As much as I have been looking forward to it, I must confess there is also some level of anxiety as I ponder how I’m going to keep both boys entertained and maintain my sanity at the same time. The only solace I can derive from the thought is the knowledge that mothers all over the world are doing it so why can’t I?

Inspired by what I’ve been reading in Brain Rules for Baby recently, my mission for the next 7 weeks is to minimise (possibly eliminate) TV viewing (although I will have to concede to having background television since it is impossible to control TV viewing in an extended family household) and to incorporate more wholesome and creative activities for the boys to engage in.

I have been randomly throwing up ideas in my head, from a trip to the museum to a “jungle gym crawl” (as opposed to a pub crawl). I have even drawn up a calendar for Gavin so we can mark in our plans – although we have yet to set anything in concrete.

As for activities to do at home, I have recently been testing play dough recipes. Since Gavin loves play dough and can spend up to an hour manipulating the stuff, it had to be on the list of “things to do over the end of year holiday” list. I bought him a Thomas and Friends Play Dough set but the play dough was getting old and quite dried out. Rather than pay for more play dough, I decided to try my hand at making home-made play dough. I figured that if I made the play dough myself and controlled what went inside it then Gareth could play with it, too.

I Googled “How to make play dough” and this recipe from instructables was first on the list. However, being the lazy git that I am, I opted to use this “no cook” play dough recipe instead. The texture was acceptable although I could feel the salt crystals in the dough as I kneaded it. If you plan on trying this recipe, I would suggest either using a finer texture of salt or dissolving the salt in the water before mixing everything together.  Gavin was pretty happy playing with it, but I felt that it would have been better if it had a bit more body to it because it was difficult to roll out and cut shapes out of it.  It was also a tad sticky, although they say you can add more flour to control the stickiness.

Here is the new play dough that I made for Gavin (I made three colours – red, yellow and green) which he pretended was ice cream:

Given what he does with it, I suppose a slightly sticky and bodiless play dough serves its purpose sufficiently so he didn’t have a problem with the texture. Personally, I would recommend using this play dough recipe instead. I have never made it myself, but I have played with play dough made from this recipe at a friends house and I reckon it is da bomb (thanks CL for the recipe link!). I will definitely use this recipe for my next batch of play dough.

If you want to add a bit more variety to the activity, you can dig out all your baking equipment and let your kids go wild. I gave Gavin my SIL’s 101 cookie cutters (it helps having a chef for a SIL) and told him to make play dough cookies with them.

Play dough is a rather messy activity and cleaning up can be a pain but lay out some newspapers and it will help reduce the amount of cleaning up required after.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

2 thoughts on “Activities for the Holidays: Home Made Play Dough Fun

  1. Thanks for the recipe recommendations, Shen-Li. Regarding the dried out Play-Doh, try smudging a few drops of water over it, then put it back into the cotainer, close tightly and leave overnight. If it doesn’t feel softer in the morning, repeat the procedure.


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