How long has it been since you played with your crayons, or a jar of bubble soap? How often do you break out the playdough, or dabble with the fingerpaints?
If you can’t find your crayons, or can’t recall the last time you sat out on the porch and blew some bubbles with a plastic wand, you may be in desperate need of a refresher course in the elementary pleasures of basic creative tools.
Imagination and make-believe don’t require anything besides ourselves, and perhaps a little space to run around… But a clump of homemade playdough can’t hurt either. Playdough is easy to make with a few basic household items, and provides entertainment and creative stimulation for all us kids – big and small.
Here is a basic playdough recipe that I have used many times before. Be sure to use your creativity, and adjust it to suit your needs (you’ll find countless variations online):
[3 cups] — all-purpose flour
[1 1/2] — cups salt
[2 tablespoons] — cream of tartar (spices section of the grocery store)
[6 tablespoons] — vegetable oil
[3 cups] — water
a heavy saucepan
a sturdy wooden spoon
1) In a heavy saucepan, mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar thoroughly. Then add the vegetable oil and water, and mix until well blended.
2) Add a few drops of food coloring to the mixture as desired and stir. (Tip: stir in just a drop or two, and slowly add more as needed).
3) Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to a dough-like consistency.
4) Remove from saucepan promptly to prevent burning, and allow it to cool for a few minutes until it can be handled safely.
5) Make more colors as desired.
6) Play, enjoy, and store in ziplocks when finished to enjoy another day!
7) Compost your playdough whenever you’re tired of storing it, or if it gets dried out.
Bubbles are another fun toy that you can create from simple household goods. This recipe comes from my 3rd and 4th grade teacher:
Mrs. Pfaff’s Bubble-ology Bubble Recipe
1 part dish washing liquid
15 parts water
few drops of glycerine (available in drugstores)
Mix it all together, and voilà! This recipe requires a little experimentation to get the very best bubbles, since the ingredients can vary in their bubble-making-quality. If you can’t get ahold of glycerine, try substituting it with a little karo syrup (available in the grocery store).
For bubble blowers, you can use your own hands, a bit of string tied in a loop, the plastic soda-six-pack holders, anything you can think of that forms a complete, closed shape.
If all of that sounds like too much work, break out the crayons, and grab some scrap paper. Or check out some of these great online coloring pages (and if you know of some good ones, be sure to let us know!):