Oooh, do I have a recommendation for a fun activity for you and your kids today! You may even have everything you need to make it in your kitchen already!
Jello Play Dough sounded like great way to kill some time inside, which is exactly what we needed on a rainy day earlier this week. Both of my boys, eleven year old Christopher, and His Majesty, in all of his 19 month old glory, enjoyed playing with it, and it worked out great for me for two reasons: It made the soundtrack of my morning absolutely lovely to hear the two of them playing together, AND it gave me time to get some of my kitchen stuff done, while I simultaneously admired their jello play dough masterpieces. It also scored bonus points because it was made with commonly stocked ingredients, and I didn’t have to make a special trip to the store. I didn’t have any wax paper, but whatever, other than that, I had everything I needed, and I easily made it work. It’ s pretty great to think that if we end up getting stuck inside unexpectedly due to weather or whatever might come up in our day to day chaos, I’ll have a quick activity option to whip up with hardly any advanced planning.
I wake up earlier than my boys even on our down days, mainly so that I can enjoy a shower and nice cup of tea (AND a Diet Pepsi) before anyone is awake and asking me for (or, in the case of His Majesty, demanding) anything. It also gave me time to take a look at the original source, and figure out my plan of attack. And speaking of the original source, what an amazing sight! There are a dozen different play dough recipes, all a click away. I can’t wait to give some of the other recipes on there a try.
Ok, I digress. Where were we? Oh, yeah, so, as I boiled my water for my tea and cracked my Diet Pepsi, I assembled my ingredients.
Gelatin (I had strawberry), cream of tartar, canola oil, white flour, salt, and water; Also, wax paper, to sit your dough on while it cools enough to handle it.
Then I tossed them into a big ol’ bowl, mixing the dry ingredients before I added the oil and water.
Mix to an even consistency.
And you’ll end up with something that looks like this:
Nice and smooth
Then pour the mixture into a sauce pan and heat on low, stirring constantly. The original source mentions that this will burn easily, so be sure not to turn the heat up too high, and remember to keep stirring it..
Just keep stirring, stirring, stirring…
Eventually, after about 5 minutes, the mixture will start to clump into a big old blob. That’s when you know you’re on the right track. When it is all clumpy, and there is no more liquid, you’re done.
Then, I ran into a bit of a snag, but no worries, I improvised, and all was well. The first snag was that I got a phone call. Kids sleeping + ringing phone = move quickly. Turns out, it was one of my BFFs, and given that no one was awake, the opportunity for an uninterrupted conversation could not be passed up. The second snag, which happened simultaneously with the first, was the realization that I did not in fact have wax paper, but rather, parchment paper. Oh well, I figured a stainless steel bowl and a fridge would do just as well to cool it down, and maybe even in time to finish it before the kids woke up. It looked like this when I put it into the fridge:
Clumped together, no liquid, but still rather sticky. And hot. So let it cool before you touch it.
Well, the conversation lasted a while and when I pulled out the dough, it was nice and cool. In a further alignment of the stars, His Majesty was still asleep and Christopher was peacefully eating his breakfast and examining his daily lessons, without so much as a loud and intentional sigh. So, I added some flour to the dough, and started to knead it as the directions entail.
I had to add a good amount of flour to keep it from being gummy. I just kept adding a little at a time until I got it to the right consistency; I’d estimate I added about a 1/2 cup.
About 10 minutes later, after slowly adding about 1/2 cup of flour a little at a time so as not to ruin the consistency, it was no longer sticky, was easy to handle, and had the perfect amount of play dough squish to it. I couldn’t wait to let the boys play with it.
After breakfast, with the morning dishes looming in the sink, I figured it was the perfect time to let them have at it while I cleaned up. It was an instant hit.
The dough didn’t stain our hands or the placemat, and while I wouldn’t intentionally get it on my clothing, it was very easy to clean up. The cost for all of the ingredients is be minimal, and making the dough took less than a half hour, not including the cooling time.
The original source says that it will keep for a few days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I put mine in a ziplock bag, and then put the bag inside of a tupperware, before popping it in the fridge, and it is still usable 2 days later, although I did go ahead and add a little more flour to make it less gummy.
All in all, the Jello Play Dough was a huge hit. And it tided His Majesty over until it was time to play with his favorite toy of recent days.
Empty yogurt cups. Do you have a toddler? Start saving your yogurt cups. You can thank me later.
So there you have it. A quick, cheap, and easy way to entertain your kids, all with easily obtainable ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen.