Friday, January 20, 2012

Easy Winter Craft for Kids: Cornstarch-Clay Sculptures

So, on Monday my children were home from school for the MLK Day holiday. I had high hopes for a lovely, lazy morning in our pj's, with me drinking coffee laced with plenty of cream, and my daughters harmoniously playing dollhouse together, like a scene from a Pottery Barn Kids magazine. Only with shabbier furniture.

Unfortunately, my daughters' idea of a proper morning off school involved moping around, refusing any activity suggestion I offered, and bickering with each other. By 11, I could tell that if emergency intervention didn't occur FAST, the entire day was in danger of going off the rails.

To the rescue: a book of winter craft ideas for kids that I found in the Target dollar section a few weeks ago. Holla! (This book is by Family Fun magazine; it's called Wintertime Fun: Warm and Cozy Treats and Crafts, and it cost $2.50 at Target. (Once again: not a dollar.) I can't find it listed anywhere online but IT. IS. AWESOME. Get thee to Target immediately to see if you can still find it.)

I used up every grain of salt I had left in the house to make this recipe, but it was well worth it.

Here's the recipe, courtesy of Disney's Family Fun magazine. You should still buy the book if you can, though, because it has many more craft and recipe ideas in it for keeping kids busy on a cold winter day.

Cornstarch-Clay Sculptures

(Feel free to double this recipe for more kids/more clay)

2/3 cup salt
1/3 cup baking soda
1/2 cornstarch
decorative hardware

1. In a small saucepan, mix the salt and baking soda with 1/3 cup water and bring to a boil.

2. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and 1/4 cup water and stir well.

3. When salt mixture boils, remove from heat and add cornstarch mixture. Stir for a few minutes until it thickens into clay. (This took a long time for me, and I had to put the pot back on the heat for a few seconds to get it to thicken. Experiment, but watch closely.)

4. Give each child a lump of clay to shape into little snowmen, animals, etc.

5. Let the children decorate their clay creatures with various embellishments, using items you have around the house. I put out a mini-muffin tin and filled the cups with sequins, googly eyes, screws, nuts, washers, tiny foam circles from some long-ago craft, and pushpins. Use whatever you have lying around!

6. Place sculptures on wax paper to dry overnight.

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