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Saturday, 11 July 2015

School Holiday Project 2: Trusted Salt Dough

Their grandmother and I was minding my nephew and nieces today, wishing we had something to keep them occupied. Grandma suggested salt dough and I jumped to it. Salt dough is ALWAYS a good idea. It is the gift that keeps giving. First we spend a good deal of time mixing the dough. The we spend and even greater deal of time playing with the dough. Finally, we settle on designs and bake the dough. And then we still get to paint and decorate the baked products. Few other craft products has such a great return. Best of all, it costs very little! Let me walk you through this trusted fall-back. (Need I mention that adult crafters derive just as much pleasure from the clay as the kids do?)

The basic ration for mixing the salt and cake flour, is 1:2. Having three kids around the table, I measured out half a cup (125 ml) of salt for each.

I then measured a full cup (250 ml) of flour for each which was added to the salt.

The water gets a little tricky. I start off by adding 100 ml of water to each child's mix. They were then instructed to start mixing. Now you need to judge the dough for yourself. If the dough is too crumbly to form a pliable clay/dough that rolls into a ball, add more water in small amounts. If the dough is too sticky and keeps sticking to everything after its been mixed through, add more flour in small amounts. If you add too much water, simply add more flour and vice versa.


Adding oil is entirely optional, but I find that if you add a teaspoonful to each child's mixture, the texture tends to benefit from it. The oil can be added afterwards without any negative effects if you want to try it without first. Be aware that the smaller children may require assistance in getting the dough kneaded through. But let them try on their own first. It is a good exercise for them.

Once the dough is ready, the fun starts for real. Get out rolling pins (or any round tubes that can be used like rolling pins), cookie cutters and any kitchen utensils that can be used to cut or shape the dough. Try to step back and allow the kids to explore and figure things out for themselves. If you feel as if you want to teach them techniques, sit down and start shaping your own objects. Kids are generally very observant and will copy you if they like what you are doing. If they find it too intricate, they will request a lesson, which is a much better starting place for any learning to take place.

The kids insisted they wanted to play with the dough again and therefore we did not bake it. Instead, each child's ball of dough was rolled into a ball when play ended, slipped into a plastic bag and their names written on the bags with a marker. This assured them that the clay would again be available to them, but more importantly, they would once again be able to enjoy quality time with the adults.

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Remember to keep nurturing your TALENT for making PRETTY things.
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