Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Salt Dough - Inexpensive Holiday Projects for Kids

This time of year, my daughter tends to get heavily into the spirit of giving.  It is important for a child's self esteem to be able to take pride in a gift they have given to someone they love.  She gets so excited about being able to make something for someone. So excited to share her fantastic glittery ornaments.  Her eyes light up when someone opens a gift she has laboriously sculpted, painted, and wrapped.

Her gifts are sweet and adorable and reflect her exuberant spirit. They bring smiles and hugs. . .
And here is some honesty from a mom: a child's art is so full of life and energy, and creativity, and loud colors, and . . . umm . . . bright splotchy paint jobs. So every year, we find a new craft project to make some fun little ornaments for the family. Something that can be packed away with the season and brought out again later for the nostalgia with no hurt feelings.  We shoot for holiday or seasonal themes and usually just small Christmas ornaments. This year, our cookie cutters were on the larger side for our ornaments, but fun all the same.

You will need:
cookie sheets and an oven
acrylic paint
anything your kids like to use to decorate (glitter, paint, pipecleaners, puff balls, ribbon)

This is a project best spread out over a couple days to hold their attention.

First we made our salt dough:
4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 1/2 cups warm water

Mix the flour and salt together. Then gradually add the water mixing then kneading as necessary.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Roll the dough out to 1/8 inch and use your cookie cutters.  (You may want to  keep a spray bottle with a little water handy as this dries out very very quickly.  )  We grabbed all of our Play-Doh accessories and went to town. We used our cookie cutters, but we also shaped and sculpted a few pieces. One batch was just right for 2 little girls, one mommy, and a quick appearance from Dad.  We  mixed up a second batch when the first ran out, but lost the attention of the wee ones.

Don't forget to poke holes in the tops with a toothpick.  If you want to make ornaments, you'll need to be able to run the ribbon through a hole at the top.   As you cut out your ornaments, have the cookie sheet ready. There is no need to grease it.

The recipe I found said to bake them at 325 for an hour, but after an hour ours were still a bit soft. We had better results baking ours for about an hour and a half. Until they were nice and hard and some were turning golden brown.  It was bed time by the time the ornaments came out of the oven.

After everything had cooled down, I packed our ornaments to paint later.

After a couple days, the ornaments had plenty of time to dry and harden.  We took them down to the craft room and broke out the acrylic paints.

One brilliantly painted Glow in the Dark Snowman with a Glitter Scarf and Pink Buttons!

The last step is to coat everything with a good sealant.  Even after baking, the dough is very susceptible to moisture. A good sealant will prevent molding etc.  If you are feeling extra craft, break out some ribbons for the scarves, some extra glitter for the stars, let the kids have a field day.  My daughter just wanted to use paint and sparkles, so this is our final result.

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