Who says kitchen play always has to be about making something to eat?
Our children rarely object to any opportunity to mess about in our kitchen. When it was suggested that we make some easy salt dough and create a few Christmas keepsake decorations for our tree this year, our kids were super-eager!
Remember the joy of creating with clay during your own primary school years? Well, salt dough is an easy to make and shape alternative that you can take care of in your own home. Thankfully, salt dough is less messy than actual clay and available to you whenever you wish. Just like clay, salt dough can be molded readily and sets hard after baking or air-drying. When the finished pieces are painted and decorated in the final stage, the results can be truly impressive and rewarding.
All kids will enjoy the tactile experience of creating salt dough, and the kitchen making and baking component really helps them to feel all grown-up too. At the end of this experience, you will have some pretty keepsakes to use in whatever capacity you see fit. You can use the following recipe to fashion creatures, photo frames, Christmas decorations, Easter craft, baby and children's hand and footprint keepsakes and more. The possibilities with salt dough are endless.
Let's get to it!
Salt Dough Recipe
Takes 10 minutes to make. Yields a large batch. (Enough for two children to enjoy!)
Baking time: 2-3 hours. Natural air drying time: Up to one week.
You will need:
1 metric cup of regular table salt
2 cups of plain flour
1 cup of boiling water. (Plus a little extra if the dough doesn't come together.)
A large mixing bowl
Assorted cookie cutters
A rolling pin
An oven (and a grown-up to assist!).
Acrylic paints and glitter
Make sure you use a metric cup for this recipe, and that all of your ingredients are level. Also make sure you supervise your children as you create the dough. Remember there is boiling water and an oven involved. Do not allow your children to consume the dough as it contains a high level of salt.
Add the flour and salt to a mixing bowl.
Give the dry ingredients a gentle mix together, then make a well in the centre and pour in one metric cup of boiling water. (Make sure your kids stand away from you while you do this for them.) Give all the ingredients a quick mix with a silicone spoon before handing the tools over to the kids for some play. (Just make sure all of the hot water is absorbed first for safety reasons.)
Better than a spoon, is hand kneading!
Allow your kids squish the mix by hand until a dough forms. If any dry mix is not coming together at the base of the bowl, add a scant amount of extra water until everything forms a soft dough. The resulting dough texture should be firm and pliable like play dough, and not tacky or sticky.
Once the salt dough is just right, it's time to roll it out with a rolling pin for cutting. While your kids enjoy the creative tactile process, line a cookie sheet with baking paper in preparation for their treasures.
For a Christmas theme with family in mind, we chose heart shaped cookie cutters, as well as doves and a Peppa Pig or two. For best results, roll the dough to a thickness of just under one centimetre. This will make the shaping of the dough easy enough for kids to handle without any frustrations due to breakage.
Don't forget to pierce each completed salt dough shape with a skewer right through, prior to baking, especially if you intend to hang the finished results on your tree.
|Knead, roll and cut!|
|For an extra special touch, our kids added a little fingerprint to each of their finished shapes.|
(We ended up drowning our decorations in glitter though!)
|Do you wanna build a snowman?|
Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C and bake the salt dough creations for around two hours. (Or up to three hours for best results if you're in a rush from start to finish.) Turn the 'cookies' over at the half way point to bake the underside too.
It is not necessary to bake the salt dough at all if you prefer. You can leave it to air dry entirely. This will take up to a week to harden via this method and will ultimately depend on the thickness of the dough. (This is true even of the baked kind.)
Either baked or unbaked, the dough will eventually harden completely. You will know when the dough is dry, as it will whiten with time.
When the salt dough is dry, (or as near to it as possible), the painting and decorating fun can begin. For best results, lay out all of your requirements for your children prior to beginning this stage as kids will, (and do), get messy!
|We chose our acrylic paints from Kmart. A box of four colours cost $5 each.|
Air dry your finished decorations before threading each and hanging them on your tree.
We can't wait to see these pretties on our Christmas tree this year!
Try making your own salt dough creations and use them as gift tags or hot glue them onto a special homemade Christmas wreath or table centrepiece.
Have you tried making salt dough?
Do you make Christmas decorations each year with your children?
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