This recipe was a favorite of mine when my children were little. It was given to me by my son’s kindergarten teacher, dear “Miss Dixie Franklin,”who recently went to heaven. I can just see her now surrounded by all her happy students forming their great creations. My son is 46 now so that was more than a few years ago. But in the meantime, I’ve used this recipe numerous times with grandchildren, Sunday school children, and, just the other day, with two little industrious great grandchildren.
Charli (3) and Kaison (2) pulled their stools up close to help make playdough. They took turns stirring the dry ingredients. Charli helped me decide what color to make our dough. My choices of food color were yellow, red, or green. Charli chose yellow. After the children poured the liquid ingredients into the pot they had to climb down and play at a safe distance while I did the 3-minute cooking of the dough.
Here’s the recipe:
1 cup plain flour
1 cup water
1/2 salt (we tasted the salt and talked about what it is good for)
2 tsp. cream of tartar (“Miss Dixie” said do not omit this ingredient!)
1 tbs. cooking oil
Food coloring (2 or 3 drops)
In heavy saucepan mix dry ingredients. Add oil, water, and coloring. Cook 3 minutes or until mixture pulls away from sides. Knead slightly as soon as you can handle it. Store in airtight container.
By the time the dough was ready for them the children were clamoring for it. I laid sheets of wax paper on the table and gave them each a nice warm yellow ball. Kaison immediately tasted his and made a terrible face. I reminded them this dough is not to eat! (Of course Kaison tried it several more times!) We made balls and snakes, pancakes, biscuits, and six-layer cakes. We even made smiley faces. And Charli and I made an impression of her hand in one big pancake. This activity lasted at least ten minutes before their short attention spans were exhausted.
The older children can make animals, mountains, trees, pyramids, houses and towers. They would enjoy several batches of dough in different colors.
If you’d like to keep some of the children’s creations, make some playdough leaving out the cooking oil. When the artists finish molding, leave the statues to dry at room temperature uncovered. You can use this recipe at Christmas time to make tree decorations using cookie cutters. Be sure to make a hole for threading yarn for hanging.
Thank you, Miss Dixie Franklin, for your recipe. I’m sure I could have found it online where, these days, we can find almost anything. But I wanted it from my own collection as you’d given it to me! Thanks for it and the many other things you taught me about working with children–like your saying “Don’t let the children ever know where your goat is tied.” And your philosophy that children learn best by playing.