The dreaded lurgy has run rampant in our house this week, we are all feeling under the weather so there was a lot of time spent indoors… which translates to bored grumpy children, and the need to find suitably interesting (and not too taxing for Mum) activities to keep them entertained. There are two activities I wanted to share with you today. Both are so easy, and are things I remember my Mum doing with my brothers and I when I we were children; dyeing paper whites and making play dough.
Dyeing paper whites is a spring activity my children love… getting flowers to change colour using food colouring. Its a simple project, easy enough for a 2 and 4 year old to manage (so long as you dont mind food colouring everywhere that is!). Basically you can use any white flower, but our favourite is the early spring paper white because it gives such good results and fills the house with delicious smells.
Arrange your jars, and add a reasonable amount of food colouring. Basically you don’t want to scrimp here (it’s the one time you can encourage your kids to go wild with food colouring and not feel guilty because they aren’t eating it!!!). Carter was especially generous in applying the blue food colouring (read, a whole bottle of the stuff) to his jar. We used blue, green, pink, yellow and black.
By the next morning the colour had come through nicely on most of the colours, Carter was especially proud of his one (the blue).
After 24 hours the flowers became brightly coloured and looked amazing in the afternoon sun. This also makes a great science lesson for the kids- we talked about plants needing water to survive and the dye shows us how the water goes all through the plant. I admit their eyes glazed over by the time my explanation ran to osmosis… ok Mum, but can we play with more food colouring now please?
The black one was the only flower which didn’t dye well, it came out a pale greeny colour, and the blue turned out especially well due to the high concentration of food colouring.
Onto my other food colouring related activity for this post is play dough.
Play dough is an awesome standby. Its incredibly inexpensive takes only a few minutes to make and keeps children of all ages entertained for hours (well maybe not hours all in one go, but in the following days and weeks certainly!).
My play dough recipe looks like this:
Mix 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, 2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of oil and 4 teaspoons of cream of tartar together in a large pot. Turn on the heat (med-high) and stir with a wooden spoon until it all globs together in a solid mass. This usually takes about 3 -5 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep beating it with your wooden spoon until it is smooth and solid- this might take a bit of muscle power.
Remove from the pot and put on a lightly floured surface. Split up (if you want more than one colour) and add a few drops of food colouring to each piece. Knead until it is coloured throughout, smooth and pliable. You will need to add more flour from time to time it it gets a bit tacky but after kneading it should feel smooth and well, lovely. There really is nothing nicer than playing with still warm play dough on a cold winter’s day!
There are so many options for colours, my requests this week were pink and green (there was no blue left!), but in the past we have made black with silver glitter which looks cool, and pink and purple with glitter too. The play dough will keep for a good few weeks if you store it in an airtight container so it doesn’t dry out. If you don’t have any cream of tartar you can still make perfectly good play dough but its unlikely to keep as well (the c o t acts as a preservative), just keep it in an airtight container in the fridge.
We have an assortment of cookie cutters and other tools which add to the fun, but they really aren’t necessary… there’s plenty of fun to be had with just play dough, little hands and lots of imagination. Have fun, lots of love, Janette x x x