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Homemade “play” dough

Making “play” dough at home couldn’t be easier and is a quick and inexpensive way to get something very close to the stuff you buy in the store (what’s it called???). However, there are a few different recipes out there and they are definitely not created equal. There are pros and cons to each….

The easiest:

Mix 1 cup water and a few drops of your food coloring color of choice in a bowl. Add 1 cup salt and stir. Add one cup flour and mix with a spoon until you have a sticky mess. Add more flour until you have something you can handle that isn’t so sticky. Turn out onto a floured or non stick surface and knead as you would bread. You can then roll it out like cookie dough and use cookie cutters or other fun objects to make shapes.

The pros: you have dough in a matter of minutes and your child can help with every step. There’s nothing toxic here so even if they took a taste, it’s not a problem.

The cons: really messy and sticky and this dough is not stiff enough to use as you would model clay. It’s really more just something fun to play with but it doesn’t last either.

Not as easy, but all-around better:

In a medium saucepan mix: 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, 2 teaspoons cream of tartar, 1 cup water, 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and as many drops of your favorite food coloring as you like (it’s better to mix the food coloring with the water before adding, actually).

Put pan on stove and slowly heat mixture, stirring constantly. Stir until mixture is sticky and hot and then you know it is done. Take the pan off the stove and turn the dough out onto a plate or piece of waxed or parchment paper. Let the dough cool and then invite your kids to play.

The pros: you wind up with something that is really close to the real thing and is fun to use in the same way. It’s great as model clay and if you store in airtight baggies or plastic containers, it will actually last.

The cons: the preparation method is not kid friendly, and isn’t making it half the fun? The dough is too hot to handle for at least 15-20 minutes and most kids want to jump in right away!

We had such fun with the dough, it kind of got me thinking-what if we made purple bread one day with beet juice or green pizza dough and snuck in some spinach or something that they wouldn’t normally eat? Maybe blue pancakes with blueberries blended in the batter?

These were our tried and true methods, but then we found this wacky guide that takes making “play” dough to a whole new level: See About.com

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Rachael Ray