Now that the holiday season is upon us, our minds are turning to gifting. Gifts for loved ones, gifts for friends, gifts for neighbors- we want them all to be meaningful, something that will be treasured for years to come. We decided to make our gifts memorable this year with some handmade ornaments created with rainbow marbled salt dough, and it was extra special because the twins were able to participate in every step of the process!
Making the Dough
To make our rainbow marbled salt dough, we mixed a double batch of basic salt dough using this classic recipe (the recipe below is for a single batch):
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup salt
- 1 cup warm water
Combine your dry ingredients and then slowly add your water, mixing until you have a dough-like consistency. At this point you can decide to leave it natural and add color by painting your ornaments or sculptures after they are dry, OR you can knead in some color and give our marbled dough a try!
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To color our dough, I divided the batch into four equal mounds (remember, I doubled the recipe) and added several squirts of liquid watercolors to each mound, kneading in the color to create yellow, blue, pink, and green. I occasionally had to add more flour to keep the dough from getting too sticky. If you saw our marbled autumn salt dough post, you know that last time I used powdered tempera paint to add the color. Although it took longer to knead in, I have to say that the powdered tempera paint yielded the most vibrantly colored dough- these little hearts were much more on the pastel side, even though I added a LOT of liquid watercolors. Just an FYI- it depends on your desires for the end product. The pastels were really quite stunning, so we didn’t mind one bit! Food coloring could also be used for adding color to the dough, and some of my readers have reported that pre-mixed tempera paint worked well for the autumn leaves version, too- it’s just a bit messier during the kneading process.
Mixing the Colors
So here’s where the real fun begins- mixing up the colors! I gave each child a hunk of all four colors and encouraged them to play and mix to their hearts’ content. Both played for quite awhile with the dough, making up stories, building “castles,” etc., until I eventually had them pile up their scraps in a big mound (see photo below). *Tip- the smaller your pieces, the more of a “marbled” effect your finished ornaments will have.
Next, with a little help from me, they each rolled their “mountains” into smooth slabs of marbled color.
After we cut out all our ornaments using these heart cookie cutters (I love the scalloped edges mixed in with the smooth hearts), I used a skewer (you can also use a plastic drinking straw) to poke a hole in each one and then baked them for almost two hours on the lowest setting, flipping occasionally to keep both sides drying evenly and prevent browning. After they were dry, the colors were a bit muted, so we added a coat of Mod Podge to the “good side” of each ornament. I used matte Mod Podge on these, and glossy Mod Podge on my autumn leaves version- I liked the glossy finish best, but these still turned out beautifully.
The Homemade Play Dough Recipe Book
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If you love play dough, (or salt dough, or bread dough…) as much as we do, I highly recommend that you check out The Homemade Play Dough Recipe Book written by Cathy James of NurtureStore. It is a super creative e-book packed with amazing ideas regarding all things play dough, including:
- all the recipes you need for the activities in the book including non-cook and cooked play dough, gluten-free dough, salt dough, modeling dough, and real bread.
- ideas for 52 weeks of loose parts play, in a printable poster format
- a whole year of play dough activities, arranged seasonally. There’s an idea for every week of the year including sensory and imaginary play, storytelling, art ideas, small worlds, math activities, reading and writing ideas.
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