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avors You Can Make With Your Child
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» Play dough

All Ages: (Everybody loves this soft, pliable material. Once in your hands it is hard to put it down.!)

With your child, make up one big batch of this wonderful stuff or several batches, each a different color. Because this recipe calls for boiling water, wait until the mixture has cooled before kneading. Your child can participate by mixing the flour, salt and alum and then putting the food coloring into the oil before the adult adds the boiling water.

Recipe for No Cook Play Dough:
2 cups flour
1 cup table salt
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups boiling water
A few drops of food coloring
Combine dry ingredients. Combine liquids, then stir everything together while water is still boiling hot. Stir until the mixture leaves the sides of the bowl. Knead small pieces at a time, because the mixture will be too hot to knead all at once. Keep kneading with hands until well mixed, soft and smooth and cooler. When completely cool, store in a plastic bag or covered container. This play dough should keep at least a week in the refrigerator.

Put a generous handful into a baggie for each child to take home and twist tie so that it is air tight. We think it is best for two and three-year-olds to use just their hands with play dough, but older children like to work with lots of accessories. These can include Popsicle sticks, some colored toothpicks, a "rolling pin" (made with short pieces of wooden doweling) and plastic knives and forks. Tell parents that if the dough becomes sticky when using just sprinkle with a little more flour.


» Mini Car Track

Ages: 3 - 5

On a piece of cardboard at least 10' 10"x14" in size, preferably larger, draw two parallel curved lines to make a "road." With your child, draw trees, buildings, stop signs, traffic lights, etc. Remember that preschool children rarely draw realistic looking objects so the adult can draw some things and the child can add spots of color to the drawings. Buy several packages of small plastic cars and trucks at the dollar store. Give each child two or three vehicles to use with the sketched road. The road might be in the city or in the country; it could be a race track, freeway, or shady lane. Each youngster will imagine what and where he wants his little cars to go as he moves them around the road. The kids can add more detail to their cardboard mini-maps when they get home.


» Things to Magnify Kits

Ages: 4 and up

Buy a magnifying glass for each child, available in stationary, office, or school supply stores and often at the dollar store. Have your child help you collect six to ten items that are interesting and fun to examine with the glass. Package these in a baggie. Some things you might want to include: pennies or other coins, cotton balls, leaves, sugar cubes, feathers, buttons, samples of different grains, popcorn, etc. A piece of birthday cake is fun to look at also (but don't include this in the baggie.)


» Rubber Band Boards

Ages: 4 and up

Get a block of wood for each child, perhaps 4" x 6". Sand the wood and pound a dozen or more nails into it (the kind with small heads). Pound these in randomly or in a pattern (circle, squares, and triangles). Complete this toy with several dozen small colored rubber bands. The children will have loads of fun stretching the bands between nails, creating many unique and colorful designs.