Friday, November 28, 2008

a play clay day

A couple of months ago I became interested in hosting toddler art classes at our neighbourhood community room. Really, my interest in this has a lot to do with myself having some creative play time, and, oh yeah, my kid and her friends are welcome to tag along, too!

When I was a student working towards my BA in design at Emily Carr, I would often volunteer to teach children's art camps. I found this incredibly fulfilling and I enjoyed making art with the kids immensely, so I looked forward to making with my own little ones some day. However, I have found that creating with older children is a very different experience than creating with toddlers (for one, toddlers have very little attention span) and so I wasn't quite sure really where to begin.

With a little bit of research I came across the wonderful blog The Artful Parent and Jean's article of how to start a children's art group, all of which I found to be a wonderful resource for making art with little ones. I also ordered the two books that she recommended on the subject: Young at Art by Susan Striker, and First Art by MaryAnn F. Kohl.

What I learned is really quite simple: that creating art with toddlers is not about any final product, but about the process - It is with the process of experimentation and play that little ones learn about their world. With toddlers, it is important that art time be open-ended and process orientated, easy-going and just fun! 

And, I love this quote from Young at Art: 

"With the exception of baby's first steps, there is no more significant milestone in your child's development that the first mark he or she makes on paper. These squiggles herald the start of a lifetime of writing and drawing... do much more than just hand a child a crayon; your enthusiasm helps encourage future exploration."

allison and the playclay by you.

While me hosting an official toddler art time is still held up in some odd community association red tape. And, to be honest I am not sure right now if I am ready to commit to a regular class schedule and the project planning this would take. But I am free to book the room anytime and host some making time at my whim. So the other day I decided to make up loads of soft homemade playclay and invite the neighbourhood little ones to come and play with Adelaide and I. 

Rather than purchasing expensive (yet cheap) commercial playdoh toys, I simply went through my household cabinets and selected out a bucketful of tools: mallets, rollers, cookie cutters, spatulas, scoops, mashers, hair combs, empty thread spools, all sorts of treasures. For "adult" tools are really what little ones want to play with, anyways!

eden_playclay by you.

I was quite pleased with the result: about half a dozen toddlers, moms and dads, and me hanging out with a big old bunch of dough. Some kids got really into it - some didn't really - and that's fine by me! 

But I have found that giving each child only two or three tools to experiment with at a time is much more effective than the whole lot at once - for little children get overwhelmed and overstimulated easily. And to play alongside of them simultaneously, but not directly interfering with their play process. I have found that if I am interested and give some of my energy into playing with the dough, then most times they will, too.

We still have a large container of the playclay here at home, and almost every day Adelaide wants me to lug it out for us to play together. I pull up her little chair to the kitchen table and we go at it - making our sweet sweet nothings. Yet she loves this creating time and she loves that she can do whatever she wants with the dough! And one batch of this playclay has lasted us for months. 

play clay day by you.


Squeeze, roll, cut, press, model, and play with this super soft homemade playclay that is a delight to touch. There are many commercial playdoughs and homemade recipes that are too hard and stiff for the smallest hands to manipulate, but this one is great!


2 cups water

1 cup salt

food colouring*

4 tsp. cream of tartar

4 tbsp. oil

2 cups flour*


- Combine water, salt, cream of tartar and food colouring (.5 tsp for pastel colour and 1.5 tbsp for vivid colour) in a large saucepan. 

- Cook on low heat and stir. As the mixture heats up, stir in the oil and then the flour slowly.

- Keep Stirring the mixture until it starts looking dry and pulling away from the pan. Remove from heat and pinch a piece between two fingers. If it is not sticky, it is done. Otherwise, continue stirring over low heat.

- Place the dough on counter and knead until smooth. Children will enjoy kneading the warm dough when it cools enough for them, too!

- When finished playing, store playclay in an airtight container or plastic bag to re-use again and again. Do not refrigerate.

* For children who cannot tolerate gluten or food colouring, you may subsitute rice flour for flour and use natural beet (red), spinach (green) or carrot (orange) juice for colour.


Jennifer said...

Thanks for sharing this story and recipe. Cream of tartar is something I can never find in stores here, so I buy a bunch of it when I am in the U.S., specifically to use for stuff like this. :-) Can't wait to try your recipe and make a bunch of fun colors.

Lori said...

good luck with your class :^)

liliashpole said...

love your blog and this idea. the most beautiful things that come out of my kitchen are created by my daughter's hands. it is amazing to see a toddler's creativity at work.
also, i hate to be this person, but i don't think flour is in the ingredient list.

sharilyn said...

Jennifer: To this day I am not really sure what cream of tartar actually is. Making this playclay is the only time in my life that I've actually used it in a recipe! Let me know if you run short, I'll be happy to send you some!

Lori: thankyou!

liliashpole: OOPS!!!! thank you for pointing that out. Duh! See what happens when breastfeeding and blogging simultaneiously? : ) It is 2 cups of flour. : )

Zee said...

I miss the toddler era in my home. They still love play clay though. Hmmm, I will ask in the grocerie store if they have cream of tartar. I don't what this is...
thanks for the recipe!

liliashpole said...

hi sharilyn,
i spent more time revising recipes at my old job than i would like to admit. so now it is a bad habit of mine to go around blogs and over analyze recipes, whatever the recipe is for.

if you guys were still wondering, cream of tartar is just a powder acid. it is the acidic half of baking powder, sometimes it is referred to as meringue powder. this recipe probably calls for it because it has an antimicrobial effect.
if you can't find tartar, i would just use vinegar since it isn't going to be eaten. or at least it isn't intended to be eaten.

dänika said...


I love your blog, and I am so excited to see this recipe! I loved playing with homemade and commercial PlayDoh when I was a child, but I discovered that I am gluten-intolerant a few years ago. I hadn't found any gluten-free equivalent - I don't have children yet; just wanted some for myself! :) - and I am so, so delighted to see that you have a gluten-free option listed! Thank you so much for thinking of those who can't have the "regular" flour.

I think it's wonderful that you had a PlayClay afternoon for your beautiful little daughter and her friends. :)

sylvesterandmama said...

thank you for the recipe - must try making playclay for my son ;-)

Nikki said...

I just found this on etsy.

It makes me pretty sad :c

Charlotte Arphenee said...

hello there,

i've been a silent reader to ur blog for the past 3 months. been very interested in handmade craft and i finally found ur blog. it a mmust for me to check ur updates every day because it is really a fresh and interesting life that u and ur little ones. im in love with ur works and of course ur lovely adelaide.
the funny things is, i never remember what is ur blogs address. i just add it as my fav, never bother to at least write it down. and last week, my computer at the ofice got infected with virus, and ve to reformated, i lost all my fav blogs address, including u. so today, i been searching for u all over the internet without even knowing ur name, or your designer name. i only remember, adelaide. and u r in etsy. finally i remember ur lovelydesign. and here i am, posting a comment to ur blog. how is that?
one thing for sure, u make my day with all the things that u n adelaide do everyday. keep blogging, and fell free to visit my blog. it is in malays, but u can see how my baby Wawa really looks like adelaide.

bye for now.

jay, malaysia

jtp said...


I love your blog, your Lovely Design shop, and your beautiful photos of family, work and home. You rock!

A question about the play clay: How did you manage to make such a brilliant red clay? I've used beets and food colouring to my clay (similar to your recipe), but can't manage anything more than an intense pink. Any suggestions?


June (mama to Noah)

Jenn said...

oh, this is so inpsirational! I really wish Clara had a little group of friends to have an art group with! Well, we will definitely be making the clay from the recipe at home to play with together. Thanks so much for sharing!

Alissa Nicolau said...

Hi Sharilyn,

I am wondering if you have found the wonderful kids craft sites called

Kids Craft Weekly and

The Crafty Crow

Love them and hope you might also.

Happy Holidays,


Ann said...

I worked at a day care one summer and the kids in my room were 18-24 months. I loved doing art projects with them. I loved rolling out the clay and watching to see how many were just following me without me saying anything. They didn't get frustrated, they just had fun.

Your community is lucky to have you!

tigermilk said...

can you ever be too old to play with clay? i hope not! ;p

Sara, Plainfield, IL said...

very cool. i think i will get some little air tight containers and use this idea for party favors for an upcoming b-day party.

Kitten Muffin said...

We just tried your recipe for our pretend bakery and it worked out great! Thank you!

kgbubble said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kgbubble said...


I'm new to this, so forgive me. I tried to find a way to just message you, but haven't figured that out yet, so it makes the most sense to leave my comment for you on this post. I hope you get a notification of a new comment on an old post?

I LOVE your blog! I actually came to it through a photo on flickr, which I 'faved'! It's so comforting to read the perspective of someone in a similar situation, going through the same beautiful and challenging aspects of mothering, and trying to stamp out a creative space for her child, and find the time to get some of her own.

We made your playclay! At any rate, I blogged about it in my blog, and wanted to credit you so I provided a link to this post. It now occurs to me that I likely should have gotten your permission first. If you aren't comfortable with this for any reason, I will remove it. As of now, I'm pretty sure my blog is read only by my family and friends who are far away from us for the time being, to let them into our lives a bit more. We do a lot of cooking, crafting, etc. We've done several of your ideas, and loved them. Thank you! You have a beautiful family and are an inspiring mother and artist/creator! Keep shining! Peace

telephone lookup said...

Good recipe. We used to do something similar to this, but yours looks like it would work better.

Cris said...

This information is very interesting, I really enjoyed, I would like get more information about this, because is very beautiful, thanks for sharing! costa rica investment opportunities

JJ said...

I used your recipe for an art class for some of my son's friends and we love it! The only thing I changed was to substitute tempera paint for food coloring. All the mommies asked for your website so they could make some of their own!

niz said...

Hello .. firstly I would like to send greetings to all readers. After this, I recognize the content so interesting about this article. For me personally I liked all the information. I would like to know of cases like this more often. In my personal experience I might mention a book called Generic Viagra in this book that I mentioned have very interesting topics, and also you have much to do with the main theme of this article.

Firesales Costa Rica said...

Thank you for sharing information. It is quite useful for us also. I always love to read such type of things.

admin said...

thanks for this post. very good.
cholesterol lowering foods

viagra sale said...

Thanks for a marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you can be a great author

escort said...

The chap is completely right, and there's no skepticism.

jamess said...

very cools things are made by clay.Pay For Research Paper|Cheap research paper|Affordable research paper

rental forklift said...

I was wondering if you ever considered changing the layout of your blog? Its very well written; I love what you've got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
parfum | jakarta hotel | rumah dijual | perlengkapan bayi | properti semarang | mesin fotocopy | party organizer

companies register hong-kong said...

thank you for the recipe - must try making playclay for my son. :-)

florists sacramento ca said...

Very nice site, thanks for taking the time to post some great articles.

parfum pria said...

I am confident they'll be benefited from this website.
Parfum Original
Sepatu Wedges

solar equipment said...

I really appreciate the kind of topics you post here. Thanks for sharing information that is actually helpful. Good day!

Auto responder setup said...

Just wanted to drop a comment and say I am new to your blog and really like what I am reading. Thanks for the great content. Look forward to coming back for more.

travel humidor said...

this is a good idea to keep the kids busy ... In addition to this we are able to spend time with them learning .. thanks for the idea.

travel humidor

gerai parfum said...

Also, I like the layout of your site along with the simple navigation. I've bookmarked your website and may return often!

Jual Sepatu Wanita Online
Sandal Wanita Murah

loan modifications said...

I really like this website, and hope you will write more, thanks a lot for your information.

loan modifications

Hassaan Naeem said...

Finally, a first-rate internet site that's not in my face doing this to usually promote me something. Cheers, i highly recommend you maintain the good work.Gifts To Pakistan

Cheap NIKE NFL Jerseys said...

I love this blog. I find hard time visiting sites that could actually inform me regarding this information. Glad that i found it here. I do have my reporting earlier this week. And probably i could use this a s my reference. cheap jerseys wholesale
Cheap NIKE NFL Jerseys

cheap football jerseys said...

Just want to comment, saying I am new to your blog, I really like reading. Thank you for your great content. Looking forward to more back.

jaket kulit garut said...

hi, thanks for making this post. iam loking for this article . In truth, you had published this already, thanks.
jaket kulit I jaket kulit garut I jual jaket kulit

Send Gifts To Pakistan said...

wow,some pretty nice stuff for sure,cheers for that
Send Gifts To Pakistan

Nida said...

Nice ,inreresting post .. I am always looking for such post..Thanks for shareing with us.

Sharing some usefull links for my fellows:
Send Gifts To Pakistan

Send Digital Pen Quran To Pakistan

Send Sweet (mithai) To Pakistan

Gift Pet Birds To Pakistan

Send Valentine Gifts Someone Special To Pakistan

pusat kemeja pria said...

Again, thank you for this post. This is such an inspiration.
Kemeja Pria Slim Fit | Kemeja Kerja Pria | Blazer Pria

Generic viagrabuy said...

Nice blog thanks for sharing!1
Generic Viagra

sagy permana said...

this is very nice
Kemeja Pria
Kemeja Pria Terbaru
Jaket Pria
Jaket Online

ujang said...

nice idea for my children

Kemeja Pria

Ayman said...

Hi! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group? There's a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know.
mehndi designs

Santi said...

Thank Before...Great post

Jaket Anak , Celana Anak Perempuan, Celana Anak Laki , Baju Anak, Sweater Anak

Junaid said...

i will try...!!!You will...????

San Diego Hills said...

Please visit

SEO Melbourne | melbourne Web Developer | Oxone | Website Magazine

parfum said...

The best site layouts are very pleasing on the eyes, are easy to navigate and provide readers with all of the information that they need to know quickly and simply.

San Diego Hills

Unknown said...

Thanks for the information.
Please visit:
Aksesoris Mobil
Cotton Bud
GPS Tracker

Anonymous said...

e cigarette, ecig, vapor cigarette, ecigarette, e cigarette reviews, electronic cigarette brands

Santi said...

Thanks for every other informative site. I happy can visting here, It has relevant information

Toko Alat Fitness | Bench Press Murah | Treadmill Elektrik | Harga Home Gym

airless spray said...

Please visit my product page.
air spray gun

Gift4Pakistan said...

Remarkable topic. Thanks for your piece of writing, it’s been very beneficial. Thanks for giving out your information.thanx alot

Rahayu Ningsih said...

My child also like playing clay at home.
iklan baris gratis

jaring pengaman gedung said...

Nice article, thanks for the information. It's very complete information. I will bookmark for next reference
jaring futsal | jaring golf | jaring pengaman proyek |
jaring pengaman bangunan | jaring pengaman gedung

airless spray said...

Your site all of the abilities that it needs to attract new viewers
and help to sell your business' products or services.
SEO Melbourne | melbourne web developer | USA Property Investment | Australian Property Investment

Facebook Descargar said...

This is also a very good post which I really enjoyed reading. It is not everyday that I have the possibility to see something like this.
download descargar facebook gratis para Android celular and download free descargar facebook apk en español, descargar facebook plus , descarga facebook

Alexandra Kate said...

I know where I'm going and l know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want.Thankyou i really love it.........

Michael Husen said...

I was about to say something on this topic. But now i can see that everything on this topic is very amazing and mind blowing, so i have nothing to say here. I am just going through all the topics and being appreciated. Thanks for sharing.

Syka ika said...

I know where I'm going and I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want.Thankyou i really love it

adelia lia said...

I know where I'm going and I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want.Thankyou i really love it

El Taufan said...

Thanks for Sharing That... Sucses for You











Friv4 Games Online said...

I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share
i like play games happy wheels online and play happy wheels 2 games and friv4school , games for girls , games go girls

Parfum said...

Chanel no 5 Women
Beyonce Heat rush women
Dolce Gabbana Light Blue Women
Etienne Aigner Too Feminine Women
Calvin Klein one Shock Man
Britney Spears Fantasy Women
Davidoff Cool Water Man
Hugo Boss Orange Man

resep masakan sederhana said...

Resep Masakan Sederhana
Resep Brownies kukus
Resep sayur asem
Resep kuah bakso
Resep soto betawi
Resep Jus Tomat
Resep kue bolu kukus lapis
Resep donat labu kuning
Resep donat tanpa telur
Resep donat mini
Resep daging sapi
Resep Nasi Kuning
Resep Tahu Ranjau
Resep Pempek Dos
Resep bakso sapi
Resep ikan bakar
Resep martabak manis mini
Resep durian goreng
Resep donat praktis
Resep mie goreng
Resep telur pindang kecap
Resep semur telur kentang
Resep sayur asem betawi
Resep risoles isi sayuran
Resep sayur lodeh
Resep donat dunkin
Resep kue lapis tepung beras
Resep kolak kacang hijau ubi
Resep ayam bakar
Resep martabak manis bogasari
Resep Nugget ikan tuna tenggiri
Resep Nasi goreng seafood

GPS said...

Thanks for the info. In case when you traveling, you might need a Gps Tracking for your car or boat and even knowing your own location.

Atap Fiberglass said...

A very insightful information and it very helpful. In case need some info about tangki fiberglass. Thanks for sharing.

Regina Hilary said...

This app is great it gives you those moments of relaxation and incredibly wonderful
age of war 2 | tank trouble | gold miner | tank trouble 3 | duck life
Game is a must play game and the modern class:
age of war 3 | red ball | Stick war 2 | Apple Shooter | goodgame empire | earn to die | tank trouble 2

Soc Cute said...

This is the game is played so great. Invite you to experience it interesting things there.
strike force heroes 4 | red ball | slitherio
gun mayhem 2 | c an your pet | happy wheels
You can receive or send emails to friends and colleagues as well as easy access to the application the Microsoft website. Let's create a separate account for her right now.
gmail sign in | gmail login
sign in to hotmail | log in to hotmail

Tran Hien said...

Introducing to you some of the current hot game
red ball 3 || age of war
tank trouble || happy wheels
earn to die
this is one of the cult game now, a lot of people enjoy playing them :
slitherio || wingsio
Welcome to the website which is dedicated to the most funny and addicting
unblocked game| mills eagles | kids games |
action games | flash games | stickman games
gmail sing in