Doughing Places: the artist in your child

Even without taking the Blog-o-sphere into account, when you add up the number of children you and your friends have between you, it does point to a fair degree of expertise in all things knee-high.

When mine were small (– how I love that phrase now they’re approaching me-high-) friends and I expertly agreed that there were really only three essential toys for our children, whether playing alone, with brothers & sisters or in mum-get-together size groups. (Books don’t count here – but should everywhere else. )

All three in our list bring out the artist in your young ones.

Performance Arts

1. A sit-upon car. Best and easiest car purchase you’ll ever make!

A worrying number of people queried our buying a toy car for our girls, but I relished the moment when Rhianna, in full flight as Snow White, refused the prince’s offer of a horseback ride to his castle with a ‘No thanks’ (brandishing plastic car keys) ‘I’ve got my own car. See you around!’

Design, Engineering, Architecture

2. Cardboard boxes/tubes – big, small, any shape.

A 7ft high rocket lived in the recess under our stairs for weeks and when Rhianna finally came down to earth and wanted a bike, the very first thing she did was fix round cheese triangle boxes to a plastic chair to make a tricycle.


3. Play Dough. Kids just adore this. Great for motor skills and superb imaginative play.

Use your judgement about when to let little ones loose on dough; but it can’t do much harm if they do put some in their mouths, and they should be supervised anyway.

Provide spoon, forks, lollypop sticks etc for moulding and cutting; a garlic press makes great hair.

This dough dries out if left in nooks and crannies – there’s enough salt so it doesn’t go mouldy. But it isn’t so good smeared on your soft furnishings. Don’t let that put you off - lay down some rules!

Expensive to buy in decent quantities, but you don’t need to. Breaking my own no recipe rule – here’s a tried and true, worked for me:

Zing’s Play Dough

2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar

1 cup plain flour

½ cup salt

1 tablespoon oil

1 cup water

drops of food colouring

Mix all the ingredients in a non-stick pan, over a steady medium heat. Stir.

As soon as the mixture comes together, remove from the heat, tip the dough onto a board or plate.

Fill the pan with water immediately, as the dough hardens very quickly on the hot metal.

When the dough is cooler to the touch, knead it for a while – you may need a little extra flour if it feels a little greasy.

Cool and it’s ready to go. Keep in a plastic bag or snap-top container when not in use and it will last a while.

There’ll be many more ideas for art activities with children of all ages in Zing’s Works for Me Wednesdays from now on.

Join us next week or sign up for the e-mail so you don’t miss a thing.

Meanwhile, add your top toys to the list in comments.

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Jane said...

I absolutely agree! I read one post this am about plastic cups. I would add bubble wrap to the mix! A box of a multitude of scraps (paper, fabric, cereal boxes, caps, etc...) kept me endlessly entertained creating stuff for my dollhouse.

If one was to invest $ in toys: Lincoln Logs and Legos have entertained every class for endless hours of rainy/snowy day indoor recess.

Mommy, the Human Napkin said...

Now that our youngest is old enough to NOT put them in his mouth, Legos have provided hours of fun for our whole family. I also keep a large clear, heavy duty box with all their arts and crafts supplies (glue, paints, Play Dough, crayons/markers, construction paper, pipe cleaners, all that stuff). The thing I love about this box is that none of the kids can open it, so they don't get into it and make an absolute mess when I'm not looking. I've had enough of the art drawn directly on the walls, windows, and kitchen floor.

Sara said...

Good idea! Hubbers has started a campaign to get rid of all toys other than Legos. While it's worked a bit, I still keep lots of art stuff around. Good tips, thanks!

My WFMW is about food, but not in the traditional way. Come on over!

SeaBird said...

My 13 month old boys love playing with the dishwasher (all sharps removed)! They also like playing with their stroller - right side up or upside down so they can spin the wheels!

Kerri said...

These are great ideas!

I would add a large blanket to the list. When I was little, my grandma kept a few toys for us when we came to her house. But the thing I most remember is an old bedspread. That became a tent, a boat, and island, and we would roll each other up in it. So much fun!

I'm having to teach my kids how to fold a big blanket, though. They use one or two all the time when they are playing, but they are still out at the end of the day.

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