Friday, 26 October 2012

Mystery Suprise Secret Color Reveal Playdough

On Fridays Sasha doesn't have any afterschool activities, so I have twice as much time with her as on the other days of the week. She is happiest -- and I am happiest -- if I provide her with structured activities to fill that three and a half hours until her parents and I swap places. If I don't plan anything, trusting the hypothetically boundless imagination and creativity of a six-year-old, we inevitably devolve into a tug-a-war over how many tv shows she ought to be allowed to watch in exchange for however many minutes or pages of academic busywork she is willing to complete. It's a lot of whining and dramatic fake tears and I'm so over it.

Earlier this week while one of the babies slept, I borrowed half a cup of salt, half a cup of water, and god knows how much flour to whip up a batch of playdough. In a somewhat unsuccessful attempt to alleviate that horrible playdough smell, I added vanilla extract, which really just made it smell weirder. So, maybe pick a different scent if you're going to Try This At Home.

While Sasha was at school, I separated out the playdough into balls, molded them into shapes sufficient to receive food coloring drops, and rolled them into balls so the food coloring was hidden on the inside of the balls. The idea was that as you start kneading each ball, the color is revealed! It's Mystery Surprise Secret Color Reveal Playdough!

I made the orange one as an example, or maybe I just spilled food coloring everywhere. Guess.

And then, if you feel like following directions beyond the exciting "what's inside" part which takes one second per ball of playdough, you knead the heck out of it until it's all a uniform color. Then you store each ball in empty and washed babyfood jars, for future use.

Sasha is unpredictable enough that I tend to approach any project I plan with "If she's even half interested it's a win. If she takes it in her own direction, go with it." So when she decided that, rather than fully knead each ball to produce uniform color and store each in its separate baby food jar, she wanted to smash all the half-mixed colors together into a "sandwich," I just cheerfully asked open-ended questions packed with science vocabulary like "hypothesis" and "theory."

"it's a sandwich with green bread"

With our greenish-yellowish-pinkish-orangish-brownish dough, we formed cakes and cookies, made imprints with nuts and leaves we'd collected last week, and played Playdough Monster, which was really just me chasing Sasha around trying to convince her to wash the playdough residue off hands so that I wouldn't "eat them."

That's a "cake" I made for Sasha while she sang Patty-Cake

It kept her entertained for 45 minutes, so I just need to come up with two or three more activities per Friday to totally avert the iPad wars.


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