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Tuesday, May 26, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Family Fun at Home: For arts and crafts, look to your pantry

UPDATED: Fri., April 3, 2020

Joe Henrich plays with playdough he helped make at home. (Megan Rowe / The Spokesman-Review)
Joe Henrich plays with playdough he helped make at home. (Megan Rowe / The Spokesman-Review)

Stocking up on pantry staples during this time is a wise move for many reasons, including children’s crafts, which are easy to whip up on the fly to provide a little variety to the hunkering down.

Though many people likely already have playdough in their house, nothing beats making your own from scratch, and it’s surprisingly easy. Mix 1 cup water, 2 teaspoons cream of tartar, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1/2 cup salt in a saucepan. If the children try to eat the dough, there’s nothing toxic to worry about, but it will be extremely salty and likely discourage them from trying again.

A lot of recipes will suggest adding food dye at this point, and I’m sure it is a lot less messy this way and probably provides a more uniform color. However, why not be messy? No one is going to see your house anytime soon, and if you wait until the dough is completed to mix in the colors, the kids can do it with their own hands and control the vibrancy of the color. Another benefit is that the dough can be divided into four smaller balls, and you can have multiple colors. Unless you unload nearly all of your food dye, the colors will never be as vibrant as the store-bought stuff, but who cares? It’s your playdough.

Heat the mixture in the saucepan until warm, take it off the heat, and then incorporate 1 cup flour. Stir until smooth. If the dough seems too sticky, add a little flour at a time until you’ve reached the playdough consistency. If you waited to dye, divide it up into four balls, put them in bowls, and mix the dye in with a spoon or your hands. It will be messy, you were forewarned.

The great thing about homemade playdough is if the kids mixed the colors into one another and end up with a bland gray color, who cares? If you do want to hang on to the dough, the cream of tartar will keep its consistency for a few months if it’s stored in an airtight container like Tupperware or a freezer bag. No need to refrigerate.

Don’t put away the salt. Kids find glue-salt painting magical. Grab Elmer’s glue and paper and have the kids “draw” whatever design they would like with the glue on top of a baking sheet with a slight rim. Then pour salt all over the paper and, once all of the glue is covered, shake it off.

Let the glue and salt dry for about an hour, then get out your watercolors. When your child is choosing their color, make sure their paintbrush is extremely saturated because they will be allowing the paint to drip directly above the glue-salt mixture rather than painting on it directly.

The paint will absorb along the outlines right before your children’s eyes. After they’ve painted all the glue, they can fill in the rest of the paper if they want, providing a contrast between the glue and regular painting.

Getting creative with what you have doesn’t need to be too elaborate, and artistic expression is a great outlet for cooped-up kids.

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