Thursday, September 20, 2012

Our Homeschool Playdough Adventure

Well, my first mistake was probably in deciding to do something with the kids that I had never done before on my own.  I decided that we were going to make playdough together.  I had seen a really fun recipe for Pumpkin Pie Playdough on pinterest and decided to give it a whirl.  I had been wanting to make this "Busy Hands Box" for a while, and had just received the art bin from Amazon last week.  The two ideas seemed perfect for each other.  I even found on the 1+1+1=1 website that she had a link to a smaller version of the playdough recipe, so I decided to use that one  with the Pumpkin Pie spice.  That is where I made my second mistake.

Just after breakfast, I told the kids that we were going to make Pumpkin Pie Playdough, but I didn’t check for Pumpkin Pie spice first…whoops!  We didn’t have any.  No problem, I thought.  I will get a recipe for the mixture and make it.  Mistake number three?  I told the kids this.  Only then did I realize we only had WHOLE allspice berries and WHOLE cloves.  Ah, no worries!  We have a mortar and pestle, they will just get to try using it!  It was great for the allspice berries, it was fun for them to see something go from whole to ground.  The cloves were another thing entirely.  They are quite woody, and would not break down!  We got it as close as we could and took a break.  We were not making playdough until after lunch.  We went about our studies and stopped for lunch.  We then gathered all the hardware and ingredients we needed to make our playdough.  We had decided to make two smaller batches, which would use a total of two cups of flour, instead of the larger 5 1/2 cups that the original Pumpkin Pie version called for.  So, we were going to make white Vanilla scented playdough with green, blue and purple glitter and orange Pumpkin Pie playdough with red glitter.  Ready for mistake number four?  It seemed that 2 cups may not be enough, after all the original recipe called for 5 1/2!  So, I decided to double each of our versions.

Princess looks like an Amazon woman here, but she is just on the highest step of the step stool!
Pookie feels so grown up when she gets to help.
As the first to get sent to his room, Little Man was very excited to get back and have a turn stirring.
Pumpkin Pie Playdough…slurry?

Vanilla and glitter!

It seemed fine at first, we had just enough Cream of Tartar to double each pot and everyone was getting  a lesson in doubling a recipe (in turns, as each one was sent to their room at least once during this process!).  Then, I made mistake number five…FIVE!  I turned the heat on under both pots at the same time.  I had a child assigned to each one, but they are not as good at stirring as Mom.  So, when I took my turn on the white version, I noticed several chunks forming.  The directions said to “keep stirring until it forms a ball.”  I was not sure chunks were supposed to be part of the equation.  Remember mistake #1?  Yeah, I should TOTALLY have done a round of this myself so I knew what to expect.  Anyway, as more chunks were forming in that one, the bottom of the Pumpkin Pie one seemed to be a completely different texture on the bottom than the top…I thought it was burning.  So, there I was stirring two pots of chunky playdough unsure of when to stop.  This is where mistakes number four and five really come into play.  It was HARD to mix as it got thicker.  If the batch was smaller, it would probably have been fine, or if I only had one pot to worry about it would have been fine.  Instead, I was a frazzled mess trying to decide when to take them off the heat.  Finally, the Vanilla version was done, so I got ready to turn it out onto the table.  I quickly realized it was too hot for our $5 tablecloth to handle and ran around, with the pot in my hand, trying to decide where I was going to turn it out.  I finally thought of the cookie sheets and grabbed one and turned the dough out onto it.  I quickly got back to pot #2, and stirred while scraping the bottom hoping that it was not, in fact, burnt.  I turned it out and after kneading, it looked fine.

Pookie jumped right in with kneading the Vanilla when I moved on to the Pumpkin Pie version.
Princess took the photos of the kneading action!

This one was still HOT while kneading.

Orange Pumpkin Pie Playdough with Red Glitter
White Vanilla Playdough with Green, Blue & Purple Glitter

There were some redeeming qualities to our crazy experience, though.  I would definitely make playdough again, just in smaller batches and one kind at a time.  I think it was really good for the kids to see the kinds of things that can go wrong and how to adapt to situations as they arise.  (Though hopefully they will be a bit more composed when the unplanned happens!)  The best part is that the kids LOVE playing with their new playdough and busy hands box.  I think the combination of making the dough themselves and getting to pick the scent, colors and glitter they liked makes them enjoy it more.  Next time?  I am definitely trying Kool-aid packets for color and scent.  I love the idea and I think it will save me some of the trouble I caused myself this time around!

The Art Bin is perfect for our table, it allows for everyone to have their seat and still reach everything.
I think they enjoyed the scent a little too much…they made playdough “noses”.

Our "Busy Hands" Box

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