Nothing says, ‘It’s school holidays and it’s raining and I have nothing planned for today, hold me someone’ than getting into the play dough. And not just playing with play dough, but actually making the play dough yourself. And not just making the play dough yourself, but letting your two children, ages 5 and 2, assist. Hold me longer. And pat me, gently.
But hey, that’s what rainy, unplanned school holiday days are all about, so let us proceed. Here’s what you’ll need… you’ll probably have most of it lying around, except for maybe the Cream of Tartar (what IS that stuff, anyway?!).
2 cups plain flour
4 tbs Cream of Tartar
1 cup salt
2 cups boiling water
2 tbs cooking oil
1. Gather all your ingredients together. Do this before calling your children to join you. Trust me on this. There’s nothing more annoying than rummaging for the oil in the back of the pantry to the chorus of ‘Mum, when are we going to staaaaart?! This is boooooring!’
2. Call children. Spend five minutes mediating as to who is going to stand on which side of you and on what stool/chair. Wonder why you embarked on the whole idea in the first place. Let children take turns pouring one cup each of flour into a large bowl. Don’t fret about the amount that misses the bowl, a floured benchtop comes in handy later.
3. Allow two-year-old to put a tablespoon of tartar into the bowl. Sigh when she misses said bowl completely and dumps it all onto the bench. Scrape it back into the bowl, comfortingly yourself that at least they won’t be eating it. Hopefully. Let son add in remaining three tablespoons.
4. Measure out one cup of salt. Wonder how on earth you get the big red top all the way off and curse inwardly as it trickles out of the small hole in an agonisingly slow stream. Stand there for five minutes, continuing to pour out salt and trying to drown out the ‘How much longer is it going to take?!’ bellows in your ear. Let your kids take turns stirring the dry mixture. They don’t need to, but it will give them something to do while they’re waiting for the salt to measure out. Weigh up whether keeping them quiet is worth losing half the mixture on the floor. Decide you’re beyond caring.
5. Pour in oil and food colouring yourself, despite protests, because that shiz is messy. Put on the kettle for some boiling water. Breathe a secret sigh of relief when son loses interest and runs off. Pour yourself a cuppa (you’ve earned it). Pour the two cups of boiling water in yourself, warning small child of the dangers and breathing another sigh of relief that she’s developed a sudden fascination for a lid.
6. Mix it all together in the bowl, and when it’s come together enough, turn it onto your pre-prepared floured surface for further kneading. Give daughter a go once it’s cooled down enough – seeing her delight at squishing warm, smooshy dough
almost makes it all worthwhile.
And there you have it!* Get out the cookie cutters, the rolling pins, the shape squisher thingies, whatever else you can find. Or give them nothing else and let them use their little imaginations. With any luck, they’ll be occupied for hours…
*Alternatively, you can make the play dough without children. To do this, simply add all the ingredients to a bowl, and mix together.