Friday 27 June 2014

Salt Dough

As one of the oldest, best-tested methods of occupying a toddler, salt dough remains one of those things which I bring out in times of desperation. You know… those times like today when you’re stuck in waiting for an engineer to bring dial-up speed internet to your hut in the Scottish wilderness. 

The recipe is fairly simple, and at a push can be made without salt (because let’s be honest – how many people keep kilos of salt beneath the kitchen sink?) if you hold back on the water and accept that you’re going to have to chuck the lot out at the end of the play session. The recipe I find works best is as follows, but there are hundreds out there and a quick search should reveal one which suits your store cupboard/any gluten-free requirements.

2 cups plain white flour
1 cup salt
1 cup (ish) of water

Mix the dry ingredients together and add the water a little at a time. It’ll start to clump and look as if it needs more water, but that’s the time to get your hands in and knead it all up. It’ll need about ten minutes of working before it’s ready to use, but it’s not the end of the world if you can’t manage this – little hands playing will do the job of the kneading.

Some ideas on what to do with it:

Use kitchen equipment – rolling pins, cookie cutters, a garlic press or fork… anything that can be used to manipulate the dough. A set of cutlery might help to make the dough accessible for children who don’t like the feel (like me! – I really can’t stand it under my nails!).

Use props from outside – we had great success when we added shells from our beach combing trips. The best result was when we make snails by rolling out a sausage and sticking a conch on top. You could also just mash the dough onto the tray/table and use it to stand dry twigs up in, making a forest for any toy dinosaurs/animals.

Make keepsakes – how about printing hands and feet on the dough and then leaving it to dry/baking it. There’s a wonderful example of this on Phoebe’s blog which is well worth a look.

Use toy cars – roll the dough out as flat as possible and make tyre tracks in it. If you’ve got a particularly obliging hamster/guinea pig, you could see if they’re willing to stroll across to add their footprints to the mix.

If that’s not a compelling enough reason to give salt dough a go, how about the fact that I’ve been able to organise all my photographs from the last year and write this post in the time Daughter has been occupied. And she’s still going.  

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