by Kelly Garcia
Summer is here and that means many of us will soon have full-time companions that will be bored and asking for something to do. TV isn’t a healthy regular alternative and there isn’t always money for movies or city pool swimming, so many moms when summer hits find themselves trying to find cheap kid entertainment alternatives. Here are a couple of classics known to many pre-school and kindergarten teachers. They’re also fun for the older kids. If you don’t like the smell of commercial Play-Doh or store-bought finger paints are too expensive, you can always opt for their cheaper, better homemade versions.
Homemade Finger Paints
First, you will need food coloring or a reasonable facsimile. You might experiment with Kool-Aid or Jello, but that may not get you the consistency you want for finger paints. Whatever coloring you choose, don’t add the colors to the finger paint mixture until after it has cooked.
1/2 cup corn starch (not corn meal)
2 cups of water
3 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Cook the combined ingredients in a saucepan until the mixture is warm and thickened. Let it cool. Pour into plastic lid containers then add any coloring you wish.
It smells nice, is brightly colored, non-toxic, and it’s easier to clean up. It’s also cheaper than the Doh kind.
2 1/2 cups of white flour
1/2 cup of salt
2 packets of unsweetened Kool-Aid or similar unsweetened powdered drink mix or fruit Jello or food coloring. Koo-Aid tends to make it smell the best.
2 cups water, heated in a separate pan until boiling
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
3 tablespoons of vegetable cooking oil
Combine flour, salt and coloring agent until the mixture has blended. When the water is boiling, add the cooking oil then combine with other ingredients. Mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon or other instrument until the playdough is cool enough to touch. Knead to work the colors through, if necessary.
You’ll want to be vigilant at yard sales for some old baking related tools to use with the playdough. Pasta presses are fun for them too. Just make sure that it’s nothing you’ll need to cook dinner with on Sunday