Kids and Cardboard

It may be September, but its still summer in Texas. Its so hot that after eleven in the morning the kids refuse to go outside, not even to play in the hose! So I tend to force them out the back door as soon as they’ve finished breakfast. Surprisingly this morning there was actually a coolness to the breeze and they went out happily. BUT they kept sneaking back in! I’d hear one door open, go to investigate, and while busy with that child I’d hear the other door open and shut. I’d tell the first child to stay while going to investigate the new situation, then the child I was originally questioning would scramble around and dash out the other door. Hmmm… In time all was revealed. They were on a covert supply gathering mission! While I would have handed over the scissors, paint, brushes, and tape had they asked they preferred to “be sneaky.” Every time a door opened and closed it meant my little squirrels were stashing paint brushes down the back of pants, paints in their pockets, and tucking scissors into the tops of socks. WHAT FOR? you may be wondering. Well, a couple of weeks ago we received a large delivery and I’d given them the box and packing materials to play with outside. The box has been a hide-away and a trap for dinosaurs, the strips of packing cardboard have been swords and walking sticks and roads for race cars. This morning the kids took it to the next level and turned the cardboard into walkie talkies. 🙂

They used rocks and shells and fake pearls as buttons:

Sticks stood at attention as “commuters” (aka antennae):

They were beaming ear to ear. So was I.

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Jello Playdough


Store bought playdough is so boring compared to what you can do at home! Homemade playdough can be scented, texturized, and in other ways personalized. Not to mention the bonding experience!

Ingredients
1 Cup white flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup warm water
1 three ounce package of jello – flavor of your choice. *Note, the flavor you choose will be the scent of your playdough. In our case we used lemon, so the final result is lemon scented and yellow.

Combine ingredients.
Couldn’t be simpler. Get a big mixing bowl and start measuring, scooping, dumping, and pouring.

The young lady in the photo is almost five and is able to do most of this with only minimal assistance. We couldn’t fit our tablespoon into the cream of tartar container, so i filled the spoon for her to dump, and I poured the oil – that’s a mess you don’t want to have to clean up, ever!

Homemade playdough is also fun as they can taste test the ingredients. Don’t let them scoop a big bunch of salt into their mouths – they might throw up. More of a reaction than you’re probably looking for. Its interesting to taste jello before its turned into its more recognizable jiggly form.

If you’re doing this with a smaller someone, I suggest premeasuring ingredients so the ingredients are ready to be dumped into the big bowl. Also, be ready to help guide younger hands so the ingredients don’t get dumped before reaching the mixing bowl!

Cooking – this is a mommy job, not a kid job.
Pour into a saucepan. I prefer a teflon coated saucepan to reduce sticking.

*This scalds easily, so use a medium (not high) heat.
Stir continuously. It will gradually begin to thicken, first becoming thicker, then lumpy, then clumpy, then just one big ball!

Work it!
Once the dough begins to clump don’t let it remain over the heat. Dump the hot ball of dough into something where it can sit, away from little fingers, for a minute to cool. This doesn’t take very long. When it is cool enough to touch, put some flour down and dump the dough ball out and start to knead! Do this for a couple of minutes, taking turns (mom/kid/mom/kid) to ensure the elasticity is built up properly.

Additions
If you want to alter the color, or enhance the color, add some food coloring. Glitter is a grrls best friend, so don’t hold back!
Craft stores sell a fine, brightly colored craft sand that adds nice texture, and using a contrasting color can really make the playdough fun. Pretty much the skies the limit when it comes to add-ins, just beware organic add-ins can mold!

Victory!
There we have it folks. Let it cool completely before storing. Makes an awesome gift, especially if you include the recipe!