It suddenly struck me, when my firstborn was about two and a half, that he needed something to play with. He was done with the toddle-around-and-play-with-anything stage. He was bored of the few baby toys we'd brough over when he was four months old. He had a few Matchbox cars and a small collection of MegaBlocks that constituted his daily occupation. And he needed more.

I found a few Mommy-Blogs which threatened to send me into instant depression. These moms had multiple sensory bins (what's that?), water tables for tactile play, all manner of arts and crafts ideas, and even ABC worksheets to use with special "dot markers" - for their 18-mo-olds! My children were growing up deprived! I wanted to run to the store and spend hundreds of dollars on all the important items my children were missing out on.

Except that there wasn't a store to run to. Nowhere to buy supplies for arts and crafts. No playdough. No finger paint. No dot markers. I took a deep breath and suddenly realized that somehow I made it to 30 years old without sensory bins. I even got good grades in highschool in spite of my deprived toddlerhood. Maybe my boys would be okay. ;-)

But I still wanted to find something to keep them busy, so I did a little more research, and some experimenting of my own, and came up with a great recipe for playdough. It was an instant hit, and continues to be an often-asked-for favorite, over a year later. There's so many uses for playdough, from play-cooking to sculpting, to re-inforcing learning (we count balls as we make them, or shape bits of playdough into the letters that we're learning).

The Best Playdough Recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp. cream of tarter
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 1 TBS vegetable oil
  • food coloring
  1.  Mix together all the ingredients, except the food coloring, in a medium saucepan.
  2. Cook over low/medium heat, stirring. Once it begins to thicken, add the food coloring.
  3. Continue stirring until the mixture is much thicker and begins to gather around the spoon.
  4. Once the dough is not wet, remove and put onto wax paper or a plate to cool.
  5. After cooling (30 minutes) knead playdough for a few seconds.
  6. PLAY!

What activities have you found to keep your children busy? Any recipes or suggestions for craft supplies that aren't available in your location? Maybe you have a favorite playdough recipe that you'd like to share. Has anyone tried making playdough without cream of tarter?

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