Category Archives: Under $10 Crafts

Holy Smokes, I did a Guest Post!

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I’ve been on a  fantastic two week vacation with my family (including my adorable 80 year old Grandma, who seems to defy age in every possible way), but I couldn’t resist popping by to say hello, and to let you know that I was asked to do a guest post for Triad Moms on Main!  It’s about a Reindeer hand print Christmas ornament that I made with His Majesty, as part of a family ornament tradition that we started a few years ago (Pssst! It would make a really great addition to your tree, or a great keepsake gift for Grandparents and Godparents).  Pop on over there and check it out!

Hope your December has been fantastic, low stress, and full of fun family traditions.  Looking forward to showing you some of the fun stuff that I’ve been up to when I get home in a few days!! In the meantime, add Triad Moms on Main to your blog roll– they always have something interesting to say!

Happy Holidays!

 

 

The Kids’ Table

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Growing up, Thanksgiving on my Mom’s side was at my Grandparents’ house.  My brother, two cousins and I sat at the “kids’ table”, which was basically just a little folding card table that my sweet Grandma always covered with a festive tablecloth.  I loved the kids’ table.  It gave my cousins, my brother, and me a chance to hang out, chat and tease one another, while the adults in the family got to have actual real adult conversation (which I never understood the scarcity of until I had children of my own).  The kids’ table was a tradition that I thought was unique to my own family, until I got a little older and realized that many families used the kids’ table as a solution to the holiday seating dilemma.  Even though my family wasn’t “special” in our tradition of the kids’ table, I still smile when I think of the four of us sitting at that little card table (which I’m sure my Grandma still owns, and maintains in pristine condition, somewhere in her house).

It is a tradition that I’ll continue when I host this year’s Thanksgiving, and I pinned some ideas on activities to use for the kids’ table.  My board has a meager sampling of the things that you can do to occupy your kids while you put the finishing touches on the meal, or try to steal a few moments of those treasured real adult conversations, and there are many other great ideas out there.  I already decided that I’d print Thanksgiving coloring sheets and leave some crayons out, and this site has plenty to offer in that regard, but I wanted something else.  I thought about doing these napkin rings, but I didn’t want to have to sort through pictures, plus, while really cute, they wouldn’t do anything to keep the kids occupied. And then I found this idea. I think it is going to be a great way to help our kids focus on some of their many blessings, while also keeping them busy doing something creative.  Doesn’t it look like fun?

Thankful Turkey from Parents.com

I was given the incentive to start this craft by accident.  Contractors had taken over our home trying to complete items on the “one year punch list” for our not-s0-new-anymore home.  That said, I was displaced from doing anything of value, which gave me the perfect excuse to craft, but also took away my access to my computer, which was buried under (drywall dust covered) plastic.  Not wanting to disturb the contractors, I went outside onto the back porch, taking my brown yarn and two foam spheres (one larger than the other, to use as a head and a body for the turkey) with me, and trying to figure out how to make this guy without the benefit of directions.

I started wrapping the brown yarn around the foam spheres, one at a time, gluing it in place whenever I felt like it needed some securing.

Change directions to cover the entire sphere.

And just keep wrapping, wrapping, wrapping…

Keep wrapping until you get both of the sphere’s completely covered in yarn.

Luckily, this craft was pretty easily amenable to my own methods, however, this is the point when I realized that access to the original instructions would have been especially helpful.  As I admired my yarn covered spheres, the thought suddenly occurred to me that my round bodied turkey would not stand up on his own.  Oops.  Funny how something so simple can slip your mind, isn’t it? (Don’t worry, I figured out how to make my turkey stand up, you’ll see 🙂 )  Anyway, after the contractors were gone for the day, I went back to read the source’s recommendation that you cut a sliver off of the larger foam covered sphere to flatten it out and make it more stable (obviously doing so BEFORE you start wrapping the spheres in yarn).  That knowledge was no help to me at that point, but it will hopefully be helpful to you.

After the spheres were wrapped, a few days past until I was able to get back to this craft.  Which gave me time to figure out two things.  1) How was I going to secure the head to the body (The source blog says to use a tongue depressor, but I don’t have one of them, nor do I have any popsicles in the house, and I certainly wasn’t running out to the store in the frenzied Thanksgiving week crowds to buy any), and 2) How was I going to get my turkey to stand up?

The former was accomplished by using toothpicks and hot glue to hold the little ball in place as the head.  It took a few toothpicks, to hold it steady, and then I glued around the contact area to increase the liklihood that it would stay in place. We’ll see how it holds up the the kids, but it feels sturdy now.

Then, I got out my card paper scraps.  This activity is a great way to use up any scrap paper that you have lying around, and I didn’t have to cut a single new piece of paper.  I fixed the second problem by making Mr. Turkey a stand out of two strips of scrap paper that I stapled together in a circle.  His “body” fits right onto the ring of paper that serves as a base.  Problem solved.

I used two buttons as eyes, and cut out Mr. Turkey’s beak and red hangy neck thingee (Which, thanks to a quick Google search, I have come to learn is actually called a wattle.  Google is my proof that there isn’t a silly question that I can come up with that numerous other people haven’t also wondered about.).  There was nothing precise about this, I used buttons that came from a hotel sewing kit, and cut some scraps of orange and red paper, bending the ends to give me an edge to glue, and then applied pressure while the glue dried.

Here's Mr. Turkey with his face, standing up on his circular stand. It's all coming together...

Then, I picked out paper scraps that were large enough to use for feathers.

I picked a variety of colors, and cut out feathers using the first one that I cut as a template for the rest of them.  It certainly wasn’t rocket science, so they aren’t exactly the same size, but I’m pretty sure the kids won’t mind. See all of the pretty colors?

I hot glued toothpicks onto each feather, leaving about 1/2 of the toothpick on the feather and the other half sticking out to use to secure it to the turkey’s body. After waiting for them to dry, I arranged them on the back of the turkey’s body, and set him on his stand.

And here he is from the back:

Tah-Dah!!  The kids’ table Turkey Topper.  His Majesty is absolutely enthralled with this thing, and is actively planning an attack on it, but in the event that Mr. Turkey survives until Thanksgiving dinner, the kids can use crayons to write down things that they are thankful for on each of the feathers, and then stick the feathers back on the body of the Turkey to display.  I might even write down a few things that I am thankful for to help get them started.

Do you have a kids’ table?  Are you doing anything special to occupy the kids in the hours before you enjoy your Thanksgiving feast?  I’d love to hear your (p)inspiring ideas!

More Clean Fun! Homemade Bathtub Paint

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So, remember last week, when my group of science club kids and I exploded Ivory soap, all in the interest of understanding Charles’ Law?  Well, when our little science experiment cooled down, it left me with this:

A big pile of powdery soap flakes.  So what did I do?

I followed the example set by Housing a Forest, the same blog that gave me the idea to do the ivory soap experiment, and we made bathtub paint!  I figured His Majesty was the perfect age to enjoy painting himself, the bathtub, and anything else that happened to get in his way, with slippery, foamy homemade bathtub paint.

Making it was simple. Of course, if you haven’t already, you have to stick an ordinary bar of Ivory soap (it has to be Ivory) in the microwave for about 2 minutes.

It will grow to about 5x it’s original size, and will gunk up your microwave, but it’s just soap, so no worries, wipe it up and move on. Then, set the soap cloud out to cool.  Mine sat out for about 30 hours, simply because that’s when I got around to making it, and it still worked out fine.

As far as what you’ll need to make the paint, you probably already have everything handy in your kitchen and pantry.

All you need (beside your cooled, exploded Ivory soap flakes) is a blender, food coloring, and some boiling water (which I prepared in that teapot, to make it easier to pour into the blender). Simple enough, right?

Since making the paint isn’t an exact science, I just grabbed a few handfuls of flakes at a time, filling the blender about half way.  Then, I slowly added water (if you add it too fast, you’ll get foamy soap bubbles, which is definitely not paint), and pulsed the blender.  The source blog advised that you blend your mixture to the consistency of yogurt, which took me about 10 seconds to achieve.  She also put hers into icing bags, so that her kids could “pipe” the paint, but His Majesty is more into squishing paint and using a brush, and I had the perfect little empty containers lying around to use for this activity…

Yogurt cups!!  We save them because they are good for lots of things:  Christopher loves to build towers for His Majesty with them, and His Majesty loves to stack them and knock them down, plus we use them to “water paint” on the cement, and I use them when I paint with acrylics. Save your yogurt cups, they really come in handy.

Anyway, fill up your cups with your soap-water mixture that is at the consistency of yogurt.

Then, add your food coloring, and mix your paint.

See how pretty the colors are?  His Majesty’s favorite is “Boo”.

Then, take them to the bathtub and have a go with your fantastic homemade bathtub paint.

My husband likes to be in charge of bath time, and he said that His Majesty was a little tentative about having the paint ON him (I guess my husband figured it WAS soap, so why not wash him up with it), but that he enjoyed smearing it around and “painting” the walls with it.  When the water turned colors, and my husband rinsed it down the drain, His Majesty started chirping “Paint!  Paint!” wanting to have some more paint.  Lucky him, we have plenty left over to use tomorrow.  We used the shower head to rinse the “paint” off of the walls of the tub surround, and it came off without a problem.  I’m thinking that if it’s warm enough in the coming days, I might take him outsideand let him paint the patio.  Cleaning it up shouldn’t require more than the hose.  My kind of clean up.

Two thumbs up for homemade bathtub paint.  Inexpensive, easy to make, and easy to clean up.  But don’t take my word for it, try it yourself! And then come back and let me know how your kids (and you!) liked it.

PomPom Play

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One of my favorite things on Pinterest is cheap, homemade toys.  There are some pretty creative ideas on there, and if you are lucky enough to have a toddler or preschooler in your home, you can spend hours getting inspiration on everything from toys and learning games, to themed play dates and creative snacks.  My friend Emily, of Emily in the Kitchen, recently showed up at a homeschool activity for our older children with a bag full o’ activities for our littles, and this PomPom activity that she found on Pinterest was one of the things she brought along with her.  Come to find out, there is a whole mess of toddler and preschooler activities that are designed to be included in something called a Busy Bag, which, I have learned, is a stash of simple activities that you have handy (in a bag) to take along with you and keep your little ones busy while you are out and about, running errands, waiting at the doctor’s office, etc.  Is this not a brilliant concept?! Not to mention that it doesn’t involve handing over your iphone to your 2-year-old to distract them with a game of Angry Birds (which means that you can keep your iphone and play Angry Birds yourself while your toddler plays with the stuff in their Busy Bag! Double bonus!!).

Anyway, the original source of my pin is a blog that I have determined is pretty much the mother load of activities, crafts, games and ideas pertaining to babies and children from 6 months old right up on through kindergarten.  There are a TON of ideas on her blog, and everything is wicked organized into categories, which makes it easy to get inspiration for what you are looking for.  It’s a wealth of info, seriously, check it out.

The PomPom toy is pretty simple. All you need are scissors, an empty container with a lid (I used a sour cream container, obviously washed and dried), and some pom poms.  I got a whole bag of them at Hobby Lobby for $2.99 (but if you are better organized than I am, bring your 40% off coupon and get them for even less!).  You also don’t need such a big bag, but I figured that there will be other uses for fluffy pompoms in the future, so it didn’t hurt to stock up a few extra.

Anyway, once you have your supplies gathered, you just use your scissors to cut a few holes in the top of your lid.  You want them to be large enough for the pompoms to fit through, but not small enough that your child has to use a little effort to get them inside.  I started small, and tested my pompom against the opening as I enlarged it, so that I didn’t accidentally make it too large.  I initially worried that the plastic would be rigid potentially might scrape His Majesty’s hand when he played with it, but I tested it a few times, and it doesn’t seem to be a problem.  A commenter on the original source mentioned that you could heat the edges to soften them if you were concerned, but I didn’t find that to be necessary with this container.

That’s it.  Cut holes in the top of the container, and you’re ready to hand it over to your kiddo for a test run.

And, the verdict is… He liked it!!

He also enjoyed showing his big brother how to play with his new toy, and throwing the Pom Poms.  Everywhere.  Which made the activity even more fun for him, especially when our ancient, senior cat started to play with the stray pompoms.  Understand that this was HUGE for my boys.  Puffy does not play, at least not if other people are actually around to witness it. This could very well be a once in a lifetime viewing for them.

So, the fact that this activity was cheap, required no skill other than basic knowledge of how to use  a pair of scissors, AND entertained His Majesty in 3 different ways (watching the cat play, throwing the pompoms, and of course, using the toy as it was originally intended) means that it scores pretty high on my list of awesome toddler activities.  I’d say it was $3 well spent. Plus it’s small, can be stored easily, and could easily be carried along in a busy bag, should you feel so inclined as to make one.  And, if you’re feeling fancy, you could Mod Podge some paper or fabric onto your container and hit it with an acrylic sealer to make it pretty (or just buy a pretty container and cut holes into it).

So, have you made a busy bag for your kids?  What’s in it?  Do you have any activity ideas that you think Christopher or His Majesty would enjoy? Do tell!

Ribbons of Wonder

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After the success of the PomPom Project, I wanted to see what other “Busy Box” type projects I could make that would entertain His Majesty.  This one looked simple enough to replicate (here’s the origination of the pin: lots of great ideas here if you’re interested) , but I didn’t have very many fabric scraps to make it, so I figured I’d just wait until I did.  But then I saw a big jar of cut ribbon on sale at Hobby Lobby for $4.79 ($2.87 with my 40% off weekly email coupon).  I figured that the ribbon would serve just as easily as cut strips of fabric, and I tossed it in my cart. I also purchased a happy face button to use in crafting this masterpiece, which rang up for a whopping $0.67.  For this craft I also needed an empty container (I used a baby wipes container, but you could use an oatmeal container, a tupperware container, a sour cream container, whatever, go wild), a glue gun, and some scissors, none of which I had to purchase, making my total out of pocket cost for this project $3.54 before tax.  Definitely a cheap date.

Don't forget your scissors when you assemble your supplies, or you'll have to get up from sewing and go grab them, like I did.

Start by grabbing your fabric strips or ribbon, and sewing them together end to end, in a chain.  (The source blog actually tied her fabric scraps together which is certainly an option, but I need the sewing practice, and His Majesty would likely be able to easily destroy a knotted chain.)  I started sewing the ribbon together with horizontal seams.

But then, I started thinking that with His Majesty being so rough on his toys, I might do better if I sewed the rest of the ribbon together with longer, vertical seams.

Since the vertical seams could cover a larger area at each junction, I thought it might be less likely to rip under a certain someone’s abusive play tactics.  Plus, longer seams = more sewing practice, which again, I need.  Basically, you just need to connect your fabric or ribbon somehow.  Knot it, sew it by hand, machine sew it, whatever.  Creator’s choice!

Keep joining your ribbon/fabric together until your chain is as long as you want it to be or, as was my case, until your materials run out (my chain is made of 15 one-yard pieces of ribbon).  Here’s what it looked like when I was done:

As I was finishing up my chain o’ribbon, it struck me that a long chain of anything could potentially pose a strangulation hazard for anyone, but specifically for small children and pets, so I wouldn’t want to let His Majesty or any other little one get wrapped up (pun intended) in this toy without an adult right there with them. Pretty much anything and everything can kill you, so be careful out there.

After you complete your chain, use your hot glue gun to affix your chain to something that will anchor it in the wipes container.  I used the big happy face, but you could use a large button, or a big knot of fabric or pretty much anything that won’t fit through the opening in your container.

Then, you stuff your chain o’ fun into your container.  His Majesty patiently sat by awaiting the unveiling of this craft.

Leave a little bit of fabric/ribbon out so that your little one will be intrigued, and will hopefully elect to play with it, thus abandoning any thoughts of riding the cat, in favor of your new creation.

Oh, is that just my kid?  Oops…

So, how did this go over with His Majesty, you ask?

He liked it.  He repeated “Pull, Pull, Pull” as he grabbed at the ribbon, and he delivered a few cute toothy grins during his play, as seen above.  Mad cuteness.  But, as with most activities he takes on, he lost interest pretty quickly. He didn’t get to the end of the chain before he moved on to his favorite activity in the world: Basketball.  He’s obsessed.  From the second we go get him from his crib that’s what he’s chanting: “Bak-a-ba. Bak-a-ba. Bak-a-ba”.  So, the ribbon pull activity was fun for a minutes here and there, in between his day long game of Bak-a-ba.  Leaving behind this.

Not nearly as bad as on days when we get out the little people blocks and road… shudder…

For the amount of time it took to make this (about 30 minutes) and the cost (less than $4), this provided 5 minute blocks of entertainment about 5 times.  So, even though this activity didn’t result in the silent bliss that comes along with pulling every single baby wipe out of a container, it still provided almost a 100% return on my investment in the first day.  Not bad.  Plus, he never wrapped himself up in the chain, so I’m glad I didn’t get worked up worrying about him strangling himself, although it’s still wise to hang out in the same vicinity as your kids if you give them this toy.  Of course, if your little one is as “spirited” as mine is, you don’t let them out of your sight anyway, lest you want to follow a trail of destruction all the way to the wine rack.  And it would certainly be feasible to stick a ribbon chain in a smaller container (like a sour cream container) if you wanted to tote it around in a Busy Bag.  Brief and easy to clean up activities seem to be ideal for that purpose.

Have you come across any easy, inexpensive kid-tastic activities lately? Pinned anything good?

It’s the Great Pumpkin! Kind of…

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There is so much Halloween cuteness to be found on Pinterest that I had to make a separate board to keep my inspirations straight. Pumpkin carvings like this and snacks like this.  Don’t they just make you want to host a Halloween party?!  Plus, after I made the ghost feet canvas, and loved it, I didn’t want to waste any time getting on board making this adorable kid friendly craft . I wanted to get it up on the wall as soon as possible, so that I didn’t have to wait until next year to display it.   Here was my inspiration.

Is this not adorable?!

I’d already purchased the canvas in a bulk pack using a 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby(making each 12×12 canvas cost about $1.20), and I already had brushes, spray acrylic sealer, white paint, and stencils from previous projects.  So, I stopped at Michael’s and grabbed four tubes of acrylic paint (two different oranges and two different greens) and a roll of orange ribbon with white trim to use to hang the canvas. By the way, educators, including home educators, get an additional 15% off every day at Michael’s, so bring your teacher ID or homeschool registration card if you want to save some extra money.  My out of pocket for this rang in just shy of $5.

Anyway, I brush painted the canvas white at night, after my boys had gone to bed.  I should have used a foam roller, like I did on the ghost footprint canvas, because it was quick and seemed to give really even coverage, but my roller wasn’t completely dry when I started this project, so I had to make due with brushes.

White paint on a white canvas... not much to see yet!

I did two coats of paint, letting it dry for about 30 minutes in between coats.  Then I painted a big orange pumpkin.  I just free handed it, starting small and then making it larger until I liked how it looked.

Then I did some stripes in a slightly darker shade of orange to try to show some depth, stenciled in the year, and let the whole thing dry overnight.

This is the first handprint art I tried with the boys since the disaster that was Father’s Day 2010, when His Majesty, then a mere 3 months old, screeched like a banshee and refused to humor me by opening up his hands.  Talk about a big fat, FAIL!  But this time, this time was going to be different.  This time, the project was going to go perfectly.  After all, our footprint effort had gone off without a hitch, so naturally, I was more than hopeful that this project would be a success.

Well, it wasn’t exactly as easy as I’d hoped.  My plan was to use Christopher’s hands to do the leaves first, and then use His Majesty’s hands to do more leaves in a slightly lighter color green, kind of overlapping them.  Seemed pretty straightforward, right?  Yes, except that Christopher is eleven years old, and his hands are officially almost as large as my own.  Which would have been fine, except that the pumpkin I painted was not large enough to make that work.  And because I’d already stenciled in the year, I would have had to paint over the stencil in a few coats of white paint, wait for it to dry, enlarge the pumpkin, wait for THAT to dry, and then do the handprint leaves. I was so bummed.  But then Christopher, the independent thinker that he is, suggested that we use his thumb as the stem of the pumpkin, and leave little brother’s hands to serve as the leaves.  YES, I agreed, that sounded perfect!

We started about the task of gathering His Majesty, who was clearly disturbed that he was not being granted the privilege of holding the paintbrush.  Luckily, he didn’t make too much of a fuss about it.  It was early, and mercifully, I don’t think he was fully awake.

Not exactly thrilled with his role in this project.

So, all was going well with the painting of his palm, except that when I got ready to make the first print, he closed his fist.  Tightly.  And by the time I’d convinced him (aka, bribed him with the promise of a banana) to open it, the paint was kind of dried.  So I had to repaint his hand, and then quickly press it to the canvas.  Anyway, we eventually got it, and the other hand, too.  And they looked pretty darn cute, despite some areas that would need some minor touch ups.

Then came time for Christopher to do the stem.

He expertly painted his thumb and made his mark on the canvas.  His print was even, and dark, a real 10+ thumbprint…but… do you see what we saw?

His beautiful thumbprint was positioned in such a way that it looked like His Majesty had a large 6th finger.  We laughingly examined it from all angles, and then Christopher suggested that we should scrap the stem idea and instead turn the thumbprint into a vine.  He was the brains of the operation, but unfortunately, I was assigned the task of turning his thumbprint into a vine… and painting leaves…

Eh. It worked out ok.  See the cute little handprints?  And those nice stenciled letters? Focus on those… Because I obviously need some practice making vines. And I probably should have googled images of pumpkin leaves before trying to paint them, considering that mine don’t look the least bit like them… but, we got it done (in under an hour), despite a few minor changes to the original plan.  Plus, we had some laughs about it, which I’m sure we’ll remember every year when I dig this beauty out of the Halloween box.

After it dried, I took it outside and sprayed it with acrylic coating, to seal the paint so that I can keep our creation for years to come.  The acrylic has to dry for 24 hours before you handle it, so it was another 2 days before I was ready to put the finishing touches on it and hang it up. I asked my husband to help me staple the ribbon to the back of the canvas, and I should have just waited for him.  However, I’m a little bit impatient, and in the 20 seconds of waiting on him, I decided to just staple it myself.  How hard could it be to use a staple gun, right?

Wrong.  What happened next was so disappointing, not to mention a bit scary, plus it made me mad, but didn’t kill or impale me or anyone in my family, so all is well.

I picked up the staple gun, squeezed the trigger, heard a loud crack, and then looked down to examine my handy work.  But there was no staple holding the ribbon to the canvas.  And just as I opened my mouth to ask my husband what kind of cruddy staple gun we owned, he turned the corner into the kitchen, and I realized what I had done.

I had held the staple gun incorrectly, and instead of attaching the ribbon to the canvas, I’d shot a rogue staple right through the center of the Great Pumpkin.

I wish I had a picture of the staple, but in the midst of my temper tantrum heartfelt expression of gratitude that I hadn’t shot myself in the eye/carotid artery/chest/whatever with the wild staple, it just slipped my mind.  I was pretty peeved that I had damaged the canvas, but my wonderful (and always calm) husband managed to remove the staple, and blend the paint on the pumpkin, leaving only a few traces of my staple gun mishap. He also stapled the ribbon to the canvas, and presented it to me for to display.

My reminder to not use tools without at least getting a brief how-to demonstration.

The staple gun does work to easily attach ribbon to canvas, assuming that you use it correctly.

After all of that, our final result looked like this.

Not too bad.  And, if you harbor a better understanding of spatial relations and staple guns than yours truly, it should be relatively easy to pull this off.  Obviously, if I can literally fumble through it, YOU can do it. I’ve gotten all of the mistakes out of the way for you now!

So tell me.  Have you ever had a creative snafu?  Did something that you created not turn out exactly as you’d hoped, but you somehow managed to pull it off in the end?  Have you narrowly averted a run in with a staple gun? Do tell. Please give me something to chuckle about that isn’t myself!

Jello Play Dough

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Oooh, do I have a recommendation for a fun activity for you and your kids today!  You may even have everything you need to make it in your kitchen already!

Jello Play Dough sounded like great way to kill some time inside, which is exactly what we needed on a rainy day earlier this week.  Both of my boys, eleven year old Christopher, and His Majesty, in all of his 19 month old glory, enjoyed playing with it, and it worked out great for me for two reasons: It made the soundtrack of my morning absolutely lovely to hear the two of them playing together, AND it gave me time to get some of my kitchen stuff done, while I simultaneously admired their jello play dough masterpieces.  It also scored bonus points because it was made with commonly stocked ingredients, and I didn’t have to make a special trip to the store.  I didn’t have any wax paper, but whatever, other than that, I had everything I needed, and I easily made it work.  It’ s pretty great to think that if we end up getting stuck inside unexpectedly due to weather or whatever might come up in our day to day chaos, I’ll have a quick activity option to whip up with hardly any advanced planning.

I wake up earlier than my boys even on our down days, mainly so that I can enjoy a shower and nice cup of tea (AND a Diet Pepsi) before anyone is awake and asking me for (or, in the case of His Majesty, demanding) anything.  It also gave me time to take a look at the original source, and figure out my plan of attack.  And speaking of the original source, what an amazing sight!  There are a dozen different play dough recipes, all a click away. I can’t wait to give some of the other recipes on there a try.

Ok, I digress.  Where were we? Oh, yeah, so, as I boiled my water for my tea and cracked my Diet Pepsi, I assembled my ingredients.

Gelatin (I had strawberry), cream of tartar, canola oil, white flour, salt, and water; Also, wax paper, to sit your dough on while it cools enough to handle it. 

Then I tossed them into a big ol’ bowl, mixing the dry ingredients before I added the oil and water.

Mix to an even consistency.

And you’ll end up with something that looks like this:

Nice and smooth

Then pour the mixture into a sauce pan and heat on low, stirring constantly.  The original source mentions that this will burn easily, so be sure not to turn the heat up too high, and remember to keep stirring it..

Just keep stirring, stirring, stirring…

Eventually, after about 5 minutes, the mixture will start to clump into a big old blob.  That’s when you know you’re on the right track.  When it is all clumpy, and there is no more liquid, you’re done.

Then, I ran into a bit of a snag, but no worries, I improvised, and all was well.  The first snag was that I got a phone call.  Kids sleeping + ringing phone = move quickly.  Turns out, it was one of my BFFs, and given that no one was awake, the opportunity for an uninterrupted conversation could not be passed up.  The second snag, which happened simultaneously with the first, was the realization that I did not in fact have wax paper, but rather, parchment paper. Oh well, I figured a stainless steel bowl and a fridge would do just as well to cool it down, and maybe even in time to finish it before the kids woke up.   It looked like this when I put it into the fridge:

Clumped together, no liquid, but still rather sticky. And hot. So let it cool before you touch it.

Well, the conversation lasted a while and when I pulled out the dough, it was nice and cool. In a further alignment of the stars, His Majesty was still asleep and Christopher was peacefully eating his breakfast and examining his daily lessons, without so much as a loud and intentional sigh.  So, I added some flour to the dough, and started to knead it as the directions entail.

I had to add a good amount of flour to keep it from being gummy. I just kept adding a little at a time until I got it to the right consistency; I’d estimate I added about a 1/2 cup.

About 10 minutes later, after slowly adding about 1/2 cup of flour a little at a time so as not to ruin the consistency, it was no longer sticky, was easy to handle, and had the perfect amount of play dough squish to it.  I couldn’t wait to let the boys play with it.

After breakfast, with the morning dishes looming in the sink, I figured it was the perfect time to let them have at it while I cleaned up.  It was an instant hit.

The dough didn’t stain our hands or the placemat, and while I wouldn’t intentionally get it on my clothing, it was very easy to clean up. The cost for all of the ingredients is be minimal, and making the dough took less than a half hour, not including the cooling time.

The original source says that it will keep for a few days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I put mine in a ziplock bag, and then put the bag inside of a tupperware, before popping it in the fridge, and it is still usable 2 days later, although I did go ahead and add a little more flour to make it less gummy.

All in all, the Jello Play Dough was a huge hit.  And it tided His Majesty over until it was time to play with his favorite toy of recent days.

Empty yogurt cups.  Do you have a toddler?  Start saving your yogurt cups.  You can thank me later.

So there you have it.  A quick, cheap, and easy way to entertain your kids, all with easily obtainable ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen.

Happy Pinning!