Tag Archives: playdough

One Bag of Balloons

I think those balloons cost about $1.87. But of all the activities in which our grandchildren were involved the week of our “Camp 1010,” the balloons were near the top of the list. Maybe not capping the wonderful washing they gave my car!

The boys particularly (William 13 and Thomas 10) are very athletic so every day was punctuated with the sounds of the basketballs being dribbled or swishing through the nets. They all three rode bikes. They loved riding around and around our almost quarter mile paved driveway. Mattie (8) built up too much speed one evening and landed in the bushes, which scared us all, but she came through that accident like a trooper after some good ice packs and attention from Grandaddy.

One day we went to Bald Point State Park on the Ochlochnee Bay and had a marvelous time discovering crabs, even a live horseshoe crab, and seashells. Mattie was enthralled with every little seashell. Then we went to the wildlife lab in Panacea where we all had a blast handling star fish, scallops, clams and coral, as well as getting a very close view of several sharks. Eating seafood before we left the bay was a big treat. William ordered flounder tacos and ate every bit of them.


The Lemonade Stand is an annual event. They make lemonade, posters, and all


Aside from the annual Lemonade Stand (which, this year, thanks to our very generous neighbors, brought in $109 for the hungry), we made mayhaw jelly, played badminton, croquet, and corn-in-the-hole. We played a Monopoly game that became a fixture in our living room for parts of three days. And they beat me (trounced me!) in Authors cards time and time again. We made homemade playdough the day Amanda’s two little girls were part of our group, and that day Charli netted a beautiful orange butterfly.


Mattie, Charli, Caitlin creating with playdough


But a great highlight of the week was the balloons.

I had intended to make slime instead of playdough, thinking the boys would like that better, but I never quite figured out the recipe, or maybe never worked up my nerve. Along in the afternoon that last full day, the girls began pleading for a teaparty, and the boys were not quite enthusiastic about that. I decided it was time to bring out the balloons. I thought they’d all, from six-year-old Charli to 13-year-old William, enjoy balloons for a few minutes.


Mattie, proud of her very big balloon she blew and tied off


It was an evolving activity that stretched into several hours and even the next day.

Some of the children had never blown up a balloon so it was a learning experience for them. They learned how to control their breathing, how to hold the “neck,” how to minimize their slobber, and even, eventually, how to secure the opening and have a bouncy toy instead of a deflating flutter. The fluttering, of course, brought squeals of delight.

The boys remembered that balloons pop quickly on hot asphalt. They also realized a nice full bag of balloons was available so popping them was an okay sport. The police never drove up to check on the explosions.

Aside from popping, other sounds filled the air. The balloon players became versatile in making balloon noises, some almost musical, some disgusting, and all quite hilarious to this porch crowd.

The activity gravitated to the water hose where water balloons became the new thing. The boys showed the little girls the techniques of filling the balloons with just the right amount of water. Squeals erupted as balloons of many colors popped and splatted on the asphalt (or on each other!). I stayed safe on the porch.

When Amanda came to pick up Caitlin and Charli, I instructed the children to pick up the many pieces of popped balloons and, of course, that command met with a few groans. After the little girls left, the other three straightened up the porch and each went to read in a favorite chair or corner before our much-anticipated supper with cousin Charles Douglas at Mr. Chick’s. I thought that was the end of the balloons.

The next day we had to take our three Birmingham grandchildren home. Somehow that depleted bag of balloons got in the car. And it wasn’t as depleted as I’d thought!


These Siamese twin balloons required a double blow from William and Thomas!

Driving toward Dothan we heard the sounds begin, the breathing, the squeaky twisting of inflated orbs, the deflating, the giggles. Confined safely in seatbelts those kids managed to play ball, to play a symphony of sound effects, to compete over who could blow the largest floater and much, much more.

Suddenly Thomas was bleeding from one of the warts Grandaddy had frozen for him (one of the perks of having a veterinarian Grandaddy) so we exited the highway. When Grandaddy opened the back of our vehicle to find a bandaid, a colorful river of inflated balloons escaped drifting quickly across the parking lot like live creatures. Our laughter notched to a high level when, as we drove down the service road to get back to interstate, we were actually sharing the road with a great big red balloon. When last we saw it, that balloon was bumping along on the median as if hunting for the right road.

So if you’re among the brave and the free, buy a bag of balloons (a big bag) and turn your children loose with it. You will be amazed at what develops!

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A Favorite Recipe–Playdough!

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.

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