Here’s how to make do-it-yourself salt dough for your children, a nice eco-friendly game that will sure make them happy. You will see that fun is guaranteed, even for children born in the age of smartphones!
What is salt dough
Salt dough is one of the classic educational games with the highest ecological value. Indeed, eco-sustainability and respect for the environment for the youngest children comes primarily through play.
This is why we want to offer you a simple idea for making handmade play activities. It’s also a great idea to spend some quality time with your children. You are going to have some real fun discovering these tricks together with your children.
A salt dough recipe
Salt dough can be made at home in complete safety with natural and non-toxic ingredients. You can also add some fragrant and colorful ingredients for a better experience. So, in case your child wants to taste it, there is no problem whatsoever.
Here are the ingredients you need to prepare this simple eco-friendly game:
- 2 cups of flour
- 2 cups of hot water
- 1 cup of salt
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- natural food coloring
- scented essential oils or spices (optional)
- Pour all ingredients into a saucepan
- Mix over low heat, taking care that no lumps form and letting the mixture slowly firm up over a low flame.
- Take it off the heat and let it cool, so that you can handle it.
- You should get a dry, non-sticky dough: if not, you should continue with the cooking process further. When the dough tends to stick to the fingers, it is no longer so pleasant for children. If it turns out too hard, add a few drops of hot water.
- Add food coloring, or spices (for example, you can get a vivid yellow by using saffron, or orange with turmeric, and so on). Once the optimal consistency is achieved, it is best to color the dough at the kneading stage for a more even and lasting color. If, however, you find yourself having to color an already dried salt dough, remember to make sure it is well dried. And to give at least a couple of coats of color.
- Divide the dough into small portions that can then be shaped as desired.
Always remember that if you do not use all of the prepared salt dough, it can be stored for up to a day in the refrigerator, sealed tightly in a food-grade plastic bag or cling film.
How to seal salt dough
If you want to seal the salt dough creation you can choose a different way depending on what you want to do with it. Remember that moisture is the worst enemy of this malleable material, so sealing is mainly to protect it from moisture.
- To protect against moisture and make it more resistant to bumps and scratches, you can apply a layer of clear varnish, acrylic paint or tempera, or even a solution of white glue diluted in water to the dry surface of the washboard, so as to harden it.
- To join two pieces of dough together, you can use a little water or glue to glue them together. You must check that both surfaces are clean and dry before applying glue or water. Press the two parts firmly together to ensure a good bond.
- To add decorative elements to the salt dough creation, such as beads, buttons or stones, you may need to use a vinyl glue to secure them in place if they do not withstand the heat of the kiln, or proceed with baking.
What can one create with salt dough?
A special trick to give salt dough a shiny appearance is glazing made with egg whites. In addition to giving your creations that pleasant glossy look, it will also better protect them from moisture. Glazing is made by brushing an egg white diluted with a teaspoon of water over the surface of the handiwork. After brushing, bake for half an hour to an hour.
How to bake salt dough: oven drying, on the radiator and air drying
Oven drying is the most effective method: to do this. Use a ventilated oven that you have heated to a low temperature. Never more than 50°-60°. Otherwise, it will form cracks.
Heat the oven and bring it to the set temperature. Turn it off, place your creations arranged on a baking sheet, on top of a layer of foil, and let them dry inside the oven for half an hour maximum, leaving the door slightly open so that moisture will escape.
The realizations can be dried over the classic radiator in the winter months, and a half hour will suffice.
You can dry also in the open air (but in the latter case, it obviously takes much longer, even 2 days on a hot day.
How long should salt dough dry
Depending on the drying method, the following can be used.
- static oven, at 60° for half an hour, but with the oven off and the door half-open
- thermosiphon, next to or on top, for about 30 minutes
- open air, if it is sunny and dry, about 2 days
Be careful because, once you have finished the crafts: you will need to store them in a dry and ventilated place, never in a humid place, much less in the classic plastic bag, otherwise in the long run they will run the risk of getting moldy.
Scented salt dough
Did you know that salt dough can also be scented? Once again, essential oils come to our rescue: add a few drops of scented essential oil to the mixture so that your creations will also be scented.
We recommend, however, that you take extra care to prevent the DIY modeling paste thus produced from being ingested by animals or very young children. The risk is always there, so all stages of play should be monitored by an adult.
More suggestions for your kids
Lots of useful tips to follow: