Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We Make It: Playdough

Often when my sister-in-law writes me... I'm reminded of things that I do and that I should share.  (I have a whole folder saved of her emails to remind myself of all of the things she mentions to me :) )  So recently she told me that she's going to try to make homemade play-doh for her now 1 year old daughter.  Which, of course, got me thinking about how when my oldest turned 2 we bought "Play-Doh" brand play dough.  It was great until he mixed every color together to form a funky shade of brownish gray green... then when my daughter started playing with it... it got too tuff to work with and eventually--even after softening with water-- hardened to a rock like state.

When my daughter started preschool in 2007, they sent home a recipe for homemade playdough that they used at school.  Like I do with most recipes...I sat on it for awhile... then one day... the kids wanted play-doh and I didn't want to go buy any.  I pulled out the recipe:

Homemade Playdough

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tarter
1 cup water
1 tsp oil

beet, spinach, and carrot juice or food coloring
Mix all dry ingredients, then add liquids. Cook over medium heat in a small pan, stirring until dough thickens and becomes one large ball. Place on lightly floured surface and knead the playdough with your hands until it's proper consistency. 

What's in Play-Doh you ask??   It's composed of water, a starch-based binder, a retrogradation inhibitor, salt, lubricant,surfactantpreservative, hardener, humectant, fragrance, and color. A petroleum additive gives the compound a smooth feel, and borax prevents mold from developing. 

Of course, there are other benefits to making Playdough over the store bought brands:
  • $$$... the ingredients are inexpensive and the recipe makes a really good amount of playdough.
  • Knowing exactly "what" is in the playdough... especially important for little ones that like to eat the stuff ;)
  • Make your color of choice... no buying 10 different containers of Play-Doh... all it takes are a couple of drops and Voila! different colors.
  • No little plastic containers.  When we bought Play-Doh, the plastic containers and lids weren't recyclable. :(  We now store our homemade playdough by reusing those containers and by repurposing other plastic containers with lids.
  • AND.... it lasts so much longer ;)