Play Everyday

365…ok 366 days of simple, inexpensive and wildly fun 2-year-old play!

DIY Oobleck from Dr. Seuss’ Bartholomew and the Oobleck

This is a fun activity to bring to life the Dr. Seuss book Bartholomew and the Oobleck. I made the mistake of asking noah if he wanted to do a fun activity with me before we read the book. Anytime i ask him this he jumps up, shouts “Yes!” (or my favorite “Oh Yes!”) and immediately runs to the kitchen and sits cross-legged on the floor where we do a lot of our messier tasks. Noah dies love to read, but this book has more words than most of the Dr. Seuss books we have, so we flipped through as I narrated the pictures. At last it was time to make an Oobleck!

I found this recipe at apartment therapy. We didn’t have much cornstarch so I really just eyeballed it, adding small amounts of water between stirrings as needed. Here’s a more specific recipe:

  • 1 1/2c cornstarch
  •  1/2c water
  •  Food coloring (optional)
  •  Scent extracts (optional)

Here we are measuring and mixing. Noah was surprisingly hesitant to dig in and mix the goop. This was a good thing though, as stirring too quickly can keep the cornstarch from absorbing all the water properly.

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When we play with playdough, Noah often asks me to make him a ball. I asked if he wanted me to make him a ball from the Oobleck. Of course he was excited about this. I began rolling the goo in my hands and continued to do so as I told him to put his hands out. I quickly transferred the ball from my hands to his but…ooooozzze, the ball melted!

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We had a great time squishing it in our hands, opening them then saying “It’s meeelltiing!!”.

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We were having so much fun in fact, that I nearly forgot to add the food coloring. After all, it was green goop that gummed up the works from our story.

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As for the moral of the story, I have only praise and pride for my boy. He will consistently and often without prompting, say he is sorry. I’ve even caught him saying “Sorry Hooley.” after accidentally bumping into the cat. The cat is of course long gone by then but I sure wasn’t. I rushed in with a big hug. More importantly it is his ability to independently apologize to me, often after taking a moment to cry, that has taught me a great lesson. “Please” may be magic, but “I’m sorry” is memorable. And heart-changing.

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Cotton Clay

Every so often I forget to close the craft closet.  I’m convinced Noah can immediately sense this and off he goes to explore.  It’s not that I don’t want him finding activities, it’s just that there’s SO much in there that at one time was neatly organized.  Now though, every container, drawer and box is open, their contents dumped and scattered.  And of all the things he could bring to me to play with, one of the most common items – a big bag of cotton balls.  Sometimes we “cook” with them, other times we’ll blow them back and forth in a game of tabletop soccer, we’ve even just thrown them around like confetti.  So when I found this recipe for Cotton Clay I was excited to have a new way to play!

  • 3 cups cotton balls
  • 2 cups water
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • Food coloring optional

First you need to pluck at every cotton ball until you have a giant bowl of fluff.  I didn’t pre-read the instructions so that was a parent fail on my part.  Noah enjoyed doing this for maybe the first three balls.  I lost him after that and was stuck plucking the balls while Noah spent his time joyfully dumping the remainder of the bag around the house.

    

Things got a little more exciting when we added the water.  If you want your clay colored, add the coloring to the water BEFORE adding it to the cotton.  But then everything needed to move to the stovetop so the excitement was over for Noah for a bit.

The instructions say to heat the water and cotton mixture over medium heat and slowly add the flour as you stir.  Continue to stir over heat for 5-7 minutes until the mixture becomes stiff.  Just the water in the cotton felt stiff to me.  I started to doubt this project.  But I forged on.  Still, it seemed…weird to me.  But then again I was making clay out of cotton balls so this feeling probably should have struck me much earlier in the process.  I will say, when I began stirring the water could easily be squeezed from the cotton.  After the flour was added and it cooked up a bit the water could no longer be squeezed from the cotton.  I used this as my definition of stiff and felt the clay was done.  In the first photo you can tell there is sitting water, not so much in the second.

    

Once cooled we got to creating.  This clay is super slimy but will air dry in 24 hours or so.  We made a DINO…                                                                            A TURTLE…  And a SNAKE.  Noah made sure the snake had something to eat…

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“Cooking” (in quotes)

“Cooking” is one of Noah’s most requested activities.  It’s right up there with painting.  When I can get him cooking (involved in helping with meal prep) that’s wonderful.  When I can’t, we always have “cooking”.  I typically use this as an activity he can do on his own.  Something to keep him busy when I need to sew or to help him feel involved when I’m cooking on the stove or doing prep work that’s equally as toddler-friendly such as chopping veggies.

I had the rare opportunity to ride this morning while Grampy stayed home with the boy.  When I returned, Grampy and Daddy were going to take Noah to the aquarium while I stayed home to sew and work on custom orders.  So pretty much I was doing my own thing for most of the day.  Hooray me!!  In between riding and sewing I had set Noah down with his cook set and a shaker full of flour so I could get some things done around the house while the boys got ready for their outing.  When it was time to go to the aquarium, Noah wasn’t too excited.  He just wanted to stay home and cook!  I did my best to make the aquarium, with its birds, otters, penguins, fish and sharks sound like more fun than a bowl of flour but Noah wasn’t buying it.  It was only the promise of more cooking with mama when he returned home that had him wiping away the tears.  Future chef?  Perhaps.

He, of course, had an amazing time with Grampy and Daddy at the aquarium, telling me about the snakes and birds he saw!  But today, as promised I was going to do some more extensive “cooking” with him.  After having so much me-time this morning I was more than happy to get extra-messy with him and include more than the usual shaker of flour or corn meal.

  • Kitchen Utensils (sifter, wisk, funnel, measuring cups/spoons…)
  • Pots, pans, colander….
  • Ingredients with varied textures (I love corn starch for a silky feel, corn meal for gritty, rice for bumpy…
  • Ingredients with varied scents (Perfect time to throw out any old herbs and seasonings!)

I gathered what we had on hand in put each in one of Noah’s teacups from his cooking set.  We used flour, cornmeal, rice, cornstarch and water.  I put the corn meal in an old spice shaker.

We mixed, added, stirred…

    

As if those chubby feet weren’t delicious enough they now appeared to be sprinkled with powdered sugar!  Irresistable!!

Not to mention that sweet face!

Our gooey, lumpy, bumpy special was ready!  I offered to cook it on the stove top in one of my pots but Noah was satisfied with his creation.  So was our dog.

    

It was so delicious, she even took seconds.

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Stovetop Playdough

I was in the craft room sewing as Noah ate his breakfast in the kitchen. Either I was deep into my stitching or Noah was particularly stealthy, but next thing I knew he was rummaging in the big craft closet like a kid on Christmas morning. Yes, the big craft closet with the big childproof cover on the door knob.
His most exciting find this morning was a bucket full of cookie cutters, dough presses, a small rolling pin and plastic knives. “Playdough!” he exclaimed joyfully. I hesitated, knowing we didn’t have any left. “Playdough, please?” he amended. After that there was only one thing I could say, “Let’s go to the kitchen and make some”.  We have made this recipe before but if you want to check out different ones go to PlaydoughRecipe.com.  We halved the following recipe:

  • 2 c flour
  • 2 T cooking oil
  • 1 t cream of tartar
  • 2 c water
  • 1 c salt
  • food coloring

Mix food color and water first for even distribution, or add in after flour or while on stovetop for marbled distribution.  We did all our mixing at Noah level.  He was ready to do some cooking, as always!  Today he learned how to use the chopstick I keep in the flour bin to level off the top of the measuring cup.

      

Lately his favorite color has been yellow so I wasn’t surprised that’s what he wanted for his play dough.  The way he says “yellow” is very similar to the way he says “Noah”.  I kind of think that’s why he likes it so much.

We added the salt and stirred everything up!

    

Mama took over from here as everything needed to be moved to the stovetop to be cooked.  I would say I was cooking for about .8 seconds before I turned back around to see that Noah was also “cooking”.  And by “cooking” I mean frantically sweeping salt and flour under the table.  But that’s why we have vacuums.

Here’s a play by play of dough as it moves from liquid to solid…

Set it out on a plate to cool and it’s ready to go!  I love this activity because you get to play while making it, then play while playing with it.

    

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