|Rubbery Playdough cat|
2 cups baking soda
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup cornstarch
Mix with a fork until smooth. Boil over medium heat until thick. Spoon onto plate. (I tried this with a reduced quantity and it worked satisfactorily.)
The next recipe for a softer play dough, I used successfully at my school many years ago.
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
Mix flour, salt and oil, and slowly add the water. Cook over medium heat, stirring until dough becomes stiff. Turn out onto wax paper and let cool. Knead the playdough with your hands until of proper consistency. Use as is, or divide into balls and add a few drops of food colouring. (Children prefer it coloured, but also like to experiment and mix the colours, ending up with a dirty-looking grey!) Store in an airtight plastic container.
You could also use beet, calalou and carrot juices for colouring. I haven’t tried this, but think it would be best to colour the water as these colours are not as strong as food colouring.
I tried my hand at making paint from flour and water, (another recipe off the internet), but I wouldn’t recommend it. The consistency wasn’t smooth and it has no preservative in it so will spoil quickly. It made a better glue than paint! I also tried natural colours—tea, broccoli, curry powder and bougainvillea flowers with limited success.
|Home-made paint and paint brushes|
|Home-made paint with food colouring|
|Home-made paint - not such a good idea.|
Lots of newspaper spread on the work area absorbs splashes, and children can dry their paintbrushes on it.
Why should children paint and play with play dough? Not because we are looking for the next Barrington Watson, but to improve their hand-eye co-ordination, to help develop their motor skills and creativity, for them to experiment with colours, textures and shapes, to talk about what they are doing and to do so in a relaxed atmosphere where there are no wrong answers. Most children enjoy painting and it will occupy their undivided attention for half an hour at least.
Also in Crayon’s Count’s learning kit are puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles can be made from pictures pasted to cardboard and cut into pieces. I was surprised that some primary school boys who’d never been exposed to puzzles had great difficulty putting together a picture cut into 4 pieces. So we could make a bunch, and increase the difficulty level by cutting them into more pieces. Good pictures can be found in old calendars, and telephone directories. Puzzles help children to learn the importance of orientation. They have learnt that objects retain their identities regardless of orientation - a chair is still a chair whichever way you look at it. In order to read and write, they must learn the importance of orientation in relation to letters. In mirror image, 'b' becomes 'd' and upside down, 'p' or 'q'.