Recipes for Homemade Play Materials

(Soap Crayons, Easel Paint, Non-Edible Finger-Paint, Edible Finger-Paint, Non-Edible Playdough, Edible Playdough, Salt Ceramic Dough, Cornstarch Modeling Mixture, Home-Made Paper Mache,)


Soap Crayons

1 3/4 cups Ivory Snow (powder or flakes)
50 drops food coloring or use a paste food coloring like Wiltonís paste colorings. Paste food colorings are far more intense in color than liquid colors and donít dilute the mixture.
1/4 cup water

Mix water and soap flakes together. Add food coloring and pour mixture into a shallow cookie sheet with tray rims. After chilling in the refrigerator for one hour, use cookie cutters to cut out soap shapes. Carefully trim away waste soap with metal icing spatula, then lift out the soap cutouts a pancake turner or and allow the cutouts to harden in refrigerator or freezer. Remelt wastage in an old pot or empty coffee can under low heat to return to liquid state. Make a cofferdam across the pan with aluminum foil to reduce the cookie sheetís volume without reducing the possible thickness of the soap cakes, and repeat the previous process. This allows you to make soap bars of your babyís favorite characters to bathe with or to use to write on the walls of the tub.


Easel Paint

1 spoonful powdered tempera paint
1 spoonful wall paper paste

Warm water

Combine the solid ingredients first and add warm water slowly while mixing. The consistency of the paint is perfect (donít add anymore water) when itís thick enough to form a drop from a brush held over the mixing container.


Vegetable Printing

Spoon powdered tempera paint onto cotton balls in a small bowl or saucer and dampen. Cut designs into the surface of halved potatoes or onions with a small kitchen or exacto knife before dipping them into the damp paint. Press paint-covered vegetable surface onto paper or poster board to print.


Non-Edible Home-Made Finger-Paint

1/3 cup cornstarch
3 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups cold water
1 tsp. dishwashing detergent
Paste food coloring like Wiltonís paste colorings. Paste food colorings are far more intense in color than liquid colors and donít dilute the mixture. (optional)

In a medium saucepan, mix all ingredients. Cook on low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon for 12-15 minutes. Mix should be smooth and thick. Cool and separate the mix into plastic containers for different colors. Add food coloring paste a little bit at a time until the desired color is reached. Store, by covering tightly.


Edible Pudding Finger-Paint

1 pkg. (4oz) instant vanilla pudding and pie filling
2 cups cold milk

Paste food coloring like Wiltonís paste colorings. Paste food colorings are far more intense in color than liquid colors and donít dilute the mixture. (optional)

Put pudding and milk in a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low for 2 minutes, until smooth. Let set until thick. Add food coloring paste a little bit at a time until the desired color is reached. Babies can lick and paint at the same time!


An Extender Base For a Powdered-Tempera Finger Paint (Non-Edible)

1/3 box cornstarch
1 cup boiling water

A few drops of liquid dishwashing soap

Add a small amount of cold water to cornstarch. Pour the boiling water in slowly, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Add a few drops of dishwashing soap to make cleanup easier. This is the base for the finger paint. Separate in to several baby food jars and add different colors of powdered tempera paint into each jar. Cap the remaining paint(s) and store in their jar for brush painting.


Non-Edible Playdough

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
1 TBSP cream of tartar
2 TBSP cooking oil

Paste food coloring like Wiltonís paste colorings. Paste food colorings are far more intense in color than liquid colors and donít dilute the mixture. (optional)


Edible Playdough

2 TBSP peanut butter

2 TBSP honey (Honey is a Biological Hazard to small children! Do not feed this to children under 5yrs old!)

Enough powdered milk to make a doughy paste
Paste food coloring like Wiltonís paste colorings. Paste food colorings are far more intense in color than liquid colors and donít dilute the mixture. (optional)


Salt Ceramic Dough

1 cup salt
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup corn starch

Mix salt and cornstarch. Add cold water and stir until smooth. Boil until thick, stirring frequently to prevent lumps from forming. Test the doneness of the cooked starch by dropping a 1/4 teaspoonful of the boiled starch onto a cool surface like a cookie sheet that is laying on a kitchen counter away from the range. Cool on the cookie sheet and knead until smooth. Store dough in a plastic bag or airtight container in the refrigerator.


Cornstarch Modeling Mixture

1 cup salt
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup boiling water

Mix salt, cornstarch and water in saucepan. Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is too stiff to stir. When cool, knead on a cool cookie sheet until smooth. Model or sculpt mixture into desired forms. After drying, the modeling mixture can be painted.


Home-Made Salt-Dough for Sculpting

1 cup salt
2 cups flour
1 cup warm water

In large bowl, mix all the ingredients together to make a stiff dough. Lightly flour a rolling pin and your work surface, then roll the dough to a 1/4 inch thickness. Next sculpt the dough like modeling clay. If wish to use cookie cutters, dip them in flour first, or you can trace, photocopy, print (on a computer printer) or draw a design on a piece of paper to make a template, then cut the template out with scissors, lay on top of the dough and cut around the outline with the tip of a sharp knife. Twist off metal bottle caps can be used to make quarter-sized, multi-pointed stars and tea cups can be used to make circles. Biscuit cutters in various sizes also work well. (Remember to dip them in flour first!) Tools for making Gum Paste Flowers (made by Wilton) are perfect. Candy molds (Wilton) may be used as well.

If you want to bake "cookies" in the Medieval or High Renaissance style of a master baker, sells imported Swiss Springerle cookie molds. You have to see these molds to appreciate just how beautiful a mere cookie can be!

You can also use toothpicks, table forks and tiny baby spoons, metal bolts, the heads of odd shaped screws like torx, scrulox, etc, or even medium to heavy grit sandpaper to press down into the surface of the dough to create special indentations and texturing effects

If you wish to make a hole in the finished dough for hanging as a part of a homemade crib mobile, punch a hole in the top of the dough with a straw, bamboo skewer or toothpick, BEFORE cooking the dough!

To Bake: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the sculped dough on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Cool before decorating with paint. (Painting is optional) Store unused dough in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Home-Made Paper Mache

1 cup flour
1 cup warm water
1/2 inch strips of newspaper (For really large projects, use wider strips, i.e., 2"-3" wide)
A balloon

(Optional) Wire coat hangers, a roll of enameled florist wire, enough chicken wire for the project, masking tape, heavy needle nosed pliers and sheet metal shears.

(Optional) Gesso, paints, decorations, etc.

Preparation: Mix flour and water slowly in a large bowl. Stir until the flour is completely mixed. Let stand for 1 minute. Blow up balloon and knot or make a sculpture armature from wire coat hangers, (check the $1 store for wire hangers) a pair of heavy needle nosed pliers with a side wire cutter and masking tape. Note: If large areas are to be covered, cut out pieces or strips of chicken wire or other small gauge wire mesh (1/2" to 1 1/2" holes) with a sheet metal shears and tie with (untaped) floristís wire to the coat hanger armature.

Note: For huge projects, use a portable MAPP gas welder to braze the clothes hanger wire joints together for maximum strength before adding the chicken wire foundation.


Hint: It helps to think of the chicken wire as a sort of base or underlayment cloth like muslin that you are "dressing" your wire frame with before the outside layers are applied. You can use paper grocery bags to make templates to check the size of the chicken wire piece that youíll need and then use them like dressmakerís patterns to cut out the pieces. Use masking tape instead of pins to secure the pattern to the chicken wire before you cut! (c;

To cover the balloon: Place the balloon in a large bowl to steady it and keep it from rolling around and put a thin layer of flour mixture on the balloon. Place newspaper strips into mixture, making sure each one is moist but not soaking wet before smoothing onto the surface of the balloon to completely cover it. (Donít cover the balloonís knot with paper mache.) Dry by placing the paper mache covered balloon and bowl in a warm place (but not near any source of direct heat like an oven, gas heater or radiator - Place in the utility room across from the dryer is a good choice.) and allow to harden for 2-3 days. When the first layer is dry, repeat with the second layer and dry again. When the second layer is hard and dry, pop the balloon with a pin, and check the interior to insure that the mache has completely dried. Gesso, let dry, then paint or decorate as you will.

To cover the armature: Follow the same instructions for the first and second layers of the armature. Some complex and large armatures will require three to five layers to completely cover the chicken wire framework before using small pieces of the mache mixture to build up the final details of the work. This technique can be used to make large animals, boulders or large, non-load bearing, stage props. If making an animal, then purchase the eyes before molding the detail for the brows and eyelids Push the wires in and affix the eyes to the model with hot glue to the dried layer of paper mache. Most Taxidermists or taxidermy supply companies carry a number of "eye" types for every species. Spend the extra money and purchase a good set of eyes for your creation. Your 6 foot tall Teddy Bear will come "alive" if it has a good set of eyes. After modeling the final details, gesso the paper mache, let dry for a week, and then paint or decorate as needed.


Note: For making animal fur, high quality crepe "hair" from a party supply or costume house will produce outstanding results if applied properly to a gessoed and pre-painted base of the proper color and tint. Paint the undercoat with various "highly muted" tints and colors to match pictures of the different colored areas of the animal in question to produce the illusion of color "shading" of the fur. If the animal in question has several distinct colors of fur, use different colors of crepe hair to create the illusion.

Application Hint: Use a barely thinned mixture of white casein-based glue (Elmerís glue) and water that has been brushed onto a small area of the surface. Next apply the crepe hair in small groups, working your way out. When finished with a large area, crop the excess hair with shears to the right length after the adhesive has fully dried. Donít forget to produce a "nap" to the hair by inserting it at the right angle so that it has the proper "lay" when it dries. The cropped hair should be gathered and used until it is gone. If itís really short and your budget is tight, use the shortest hair to cover areas closest to the bends of the animalís limbs and nether regions (if the model was human, then these areas would be near the armpits, groin and leg folds).

Also, large upright statues will require that the armature be firmly affixed to a heavy (usually plywood) base in some way.

Does any AB out there want to make a relatively inexpensive eight foot tall model of Winnie-the-Poo or Tigger? WellÖthis is one technique!