A Recipe for Fun

messy handsThis is the time of the year when all the favorite recipes are pulled out, filling our house with the delicious scent of comfort foods. The early childhood teachers at Harley have their own special recipe book which they refer to throughout the school year. The results of these recipes are certainly not a full stomach, but there are many ooooh’s and aaaaah’s as children dig into what is created.
These recipes are often classroom favorites, and the teachers are sharing them with you for the days when long winter snowstorms keep you inside, and your children are looking for something new and fun to do. So, warm up your stove tops, get the ingredients on hand and get ready to play with all these fun concoctions!

Note: These recipes are not for eating, though some of them smell just delicious. Keep these creations on the playtable, not the dining room table.

Kool-Aid Playdough
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
2 pkgs. unsweetened kool-aid

Mix together.
Add 2 cups boiling water and 3 Tbsp oil. Stir well. Knead, cool and store in an airtight container.

“Goop”
Use equal parts cornstarch and water. Mix as best you can. Pour into tubs or trays.

Puffed Paint
Mix equal parts of flour, salt and water. Add food coloring. Put in a squeeze bottle and paint.

“Glurch”
1 1/2 cups white glue
1 cup liquid starch

Mix together with hands. If it is wet and a lot of starch is not bonding add water. If it is sticky, add more starch. Keep working it until it feels right.

Bubbles
1 cup water
1/3 cup Dawn dish soap

Mix together and see what happens to the bubbles when you blow them in a Minnesota winter.

Pumpkin Pie Play Dough–this produces a classroom-size amount, so save this recipe for a day when you will have a play date with others.
This one takes a bit more work, but it smells delicious, and will inspire creative baking play for sure! (It is still not for eating)

5 1/2 cups flour
2 cups salt
8 teaspoons cream of tarter
3/4 cup oil
1 (1 1/2 ounce) container pumpkin pie spice
Orange food coloring (2 parts yellow, 1 part red)
4 cups water

Mix all the ingredients together. Cook and stir over medium heat until all lumps disappear. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth.
Store in an airtight container

Ever wonder why early childhood teachers encourage such messy play activities? Having messy activities in our homes can be difficult to manage (which is why it is so nice that the teachers create opportunities in their classrooms all year), however there is a lot of learning that goes on while children are playing with these different materials.
First of all, because children learn about their world through their senses, they need a wide variety of sensory activities to encourage learning and growth. This tactile play–really getting the hands dirty– helps to stimulate children’s brains and create connections about the world around them. While our little scientists are experimenting with all these materials, they are making discoveries about their world.
In addition, the open-ended nature of these materials allow children to develop and nurture their creativity and self-expression. They become emotionally involved in their play, and emotional involvement in an activity is linked with cognitive development.
So, during these long winter days, choose some of the above recipes and encourage your children to explore with them in whatever way they wish. There are no wrong answers with these materials. When it is time to put things away, have them help to clean up the mess. Who knows, you might find that these recipes become some of your family favorites!

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