We have recovered from the holiday madness and are now facing what I like to call, “the rest of winter”. It is that glorious time of year when we are all stuck inside and run out of things to do. Joy! I find that I have to be extremely creative and resourceful about keeping the kids interested in their toys and activities. Recently, I purged our old, store-bought play dough. As with everything, the enthusiasm over play dough wore down, so when we did get it out, they were bored by it quickly. To regain their curiosity, I used a snowy day to get the kids in the kitchen to make homemade play dough.
I remember my mom making homemade play dough with me when I was just a little mallow. Her recipe used A LOT of salt and I can distinctly remember the smell. She also managed to color her dough a deep, royal blue. Just how much food coloring did she use to do that?! Our dough colors end up very pale and not a true blue. Anyway, aside from being mystified by her saturated blue dough, she also had the best play dough tools. She had a tall jar full of cookie cutters that sat on the floor in the kitchen. Most of her cookie cutters came from her mother as well as an assortment of odd kitchen tools and utensils that my mom allowed me to use with play dough. Tools such as an egg slicer, pie crimper, tea strainer, miscellaneous biscuit cutters, and the list goes on. It was an unending supply for experimenting!
The best part was going through my mother’s heirlooms and hearing her describe the women in her life, especially my grandmother, whom I never had a chance to meet, and the memories from her childhood. Priceless!
Back to present day, after we made our big batch of dough, I knew our assortment of tools also needed to be refreshed. It struck me that we could make a grand adventure out of visiting an antique shop to hunt for play dough tools.
First of all, simply trying to identify all the hob-knobs and doodle-dads you find at an antique store can spark a child’s imagination. Secondly, it is a great excuse to get your child interested in antiques (especially if you personally love going to antique shops *wink-wink*) and learn about how people used to live. Thirdly, discovering how to manipulate the tools with the dough is a fantastic, hands-on activity. In fact, you can structure this more by writing down your child’s predictions and following up with a search online to learn more about them. The only drawback about this treasure hunt is this is not necessarily a thrifty event. I had to be careful to not spend too much money. However, thrift stores might be equally resourceful for collecting play dough tools… or even better, go ask grandma if it is OK to raid her kitchen drawers!
New Play Dough Tools
Elle and I made a mommy/daughter date for our antiquing adventure. I very strategically left Ben at home to minimize the potential for chaos! Elle grew tired quicker than I thought, but I did choose a large antique mall to browse, so for our time there, we did walk away with a good bounty. We even found a little apron just the right size for Elle.
You can see our new collection above. We found a pastry cutter, an egg separator, a double jigger, a funny, rotating biscuit cutter, and one tool I cannot quite identify… perhaps it’s used to shape the side of a pastry or slice a dessert… but you can see it in the upper right image. Whatever it is, it works great slicing through a big ball of dough! The rotating biscuit (or cookie) cutter is a lot of fun too. It was a good thing we made our own dough because you have to roll out a lot of dough for this nifty cutter.
We also found a set of official Play Doh tools, so with the addition of those, I would say our little adventure was a huge success!
This morning, the kids tested everything out and I am happy to say they stayed engaged with the activity for a long time! I will put our new collection away for a while so we don’t overuse it because there is still a lot of winter left and I need to keep my bag of tricks full!
What is your most interesting kitchen gadget? Have you ever used it with play dough? Share your play dough discoveries in the comments!