Making permanent homemade Play-Doh ornaments is an incredibly easy holiday or Christmas morning activity for kids to enjoy, while the adults take a much-needed coffee break.
It makes for an awesome new holiday tradition that will have kids practicing creativity, motor skills and STEAM-learning concepts as they have fun creating new family heirlooms that be displayed for years to come!
STORE-BOUGHT PLAY-DOH VS. HOMEMADE
Store-bought Play-Doh would work fine for this project. But for an added learning experience, you can (very easily) make homemade playdough that works just as well.
Making the dough at home is also safer for kids, and better for the environment!
Skip the first section if you’d like to use store brand clay, as we will first cover how to make playdough at home. Then, we’ll walk you through how to easily make homemade dough ornaments using common household ingredients.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE PLAYDOUGH
Play-Doh is incredibly easy to make at home with just a few common ingredients (we’ll call the homemade stuff “playdough” to avoid confusion)!
It’s more natural than Play-Doh, and the fact that no cooking is required to make the dough makes for a kid-friendly activity.
HOMEMADE PLAYDOUGH RECIPE
There’s a bunch of ways to make homemade playdough, but we found this particular recipe to be ideal as the final product is less likely to crack in the oven.
Before you start, it’s recommended that kids draw and color the ornaments they want to make before picking which colors to use so they can bring their imaginations to life!
This recipe makes about 4 pounds of playdough (about 10 tubs of store-bought Play-Doh).
4 cups of bread flour (all-purpose works well too)
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1.5 cups of kosher/table salt
2 tablespoons of vegetable or coconut oil (olive oil works well too, but not preferred)
3 cups of hot water (parent or guardian required)
Various food colorings
Parent Tip: You can also prepare the playdough 1-2 days in advance and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
Mix the flour, salt and cream of tartar in a large bowl. You can speed up the process by using a hand mixer, but using your hands works just as well, and it’s more fun!
Once well mixed, slowly pour in your oil, and grab a guardian to pour in the hot water. Knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes (or use a stand mixer for 5 minutes).
If your clay isn’t soft enough, mix in a bit of flour at a time until it reaches your desired consistency!
Bring in the colors! Divide the playdough into as many separate bowls as needed, and mix in your food colorings.
Now it’s time for artsy fun!
*Parent Tip: the coloring from homemade playdough tends to stain more easily. It’s easily washable from hands and hard surfaces, but put down some kind of covering over your ornament maker station to keep things from getting too messy!
HOW TO MAKE PERMANENT, HOMEMADE PLAY-DOH ORNAMENTS
To make homemade Play-Doh ornaments that can last for generations, you’ll need to bake your sculptures in the oven, and cover them with a sealant. So, having a parent or guardian present for these steps will be required for safety.
Before baking, plan how you want to hang your ornaments. If you want to string a thread through the ornament, use a toothpick or needle to poke a small hole through where you want it to hang before going further. Otherwise, you can simply tie a knot around the ornament itself, and make a loop above it to hang.
Preset your oven to 200 degrees fahrenheit.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Aluminum foil works too, but not parchment paper is preferred.
Place your ornaments on the baking sheet. Place the tray in the middle of the oven once fully heated.
(Gently) test the hardness of your ornaments every 5 minutes with a toothpick. You’ll know they’re ready to take out when they’re too hard to poke through.
Bigger, thicker ornaments will take longer to bake (~10-20 minutes), while smaller ones may only take 5-8 minutes. So, you may need to take out smaller ornaments first before bigger ones. *Do not overcook your playdough, as it can lead to cracking!
Leave your ornaments out in the open for at least 24 hours to air dry. A white film may form around them during this time—that’s just the salt being drawn from the dough. It’s not very noticeable, and you can (gently) brush excess off later, but don’t touch them until they’re done!
If you see cracks start to form, you’ve waited too long - so start sealing them right away!
PLAYDOUGH SEALING INSTRUCTIONS
Select a store-bought sealant of your choice, or make a safer, non-toxic sealant by mixing ½ teaspoon of water per 2 drops of school glue. If the homemade sealant seems too runny, add one or two drops of glue.
Once dry, use a small brush to coat one section of your ornaments at a time with sealant (ex: the top and sides first, then the rest). This will prevent pieces from sticking together.
Apply a second coat after letting it dry for about an hour, for good measure.
Let the ornaments air dry for 24 hours. And voila, you have new homemade Christmas ornaments, straight from your child’s imagination!
MORE DIY STEAM-LEARNING ACTIVITIES FROM IDEA COLLECTIVE
At IDEA Collective, we believe that art and sensory play can play a vital role in child development and education. Children learning through hands-on crafts and activities has been scientifically proven to:
Encourage memory retention
Strengthen the grasp of core STEM curriculum
Lead to long-term academic success
Increase motor skills, creativity, problem solving, and empathy
For more simple STEAM-learning crafts and activities you can do at home, visit our blog here: https://www.ideacollectivelearning.com/blog