Monday, July 05, 2010

summer project 1: sand dough

Summer Projects
no. 1

Sand Dough,
originally uploaded by out_of_the_box.

We're a few weeks into Summer Break now and I'm happy to report that I've been successful at keeping little boys busy. The best thing for all of us to do is arts and crafts. It's something we can all enjoy together. One of our latest projects was making Sand Dough. In concept, it's a lot like making regular, homemade play dough, just add sand. The boys got a kick out of it and especially liked the idea that they could build sandcastles that wouldn't get stomped on or washed away by a rogue wave. I suggest giving kids a small piece of wood or a cutting board for assembling their creations. This way you can easily move it to dry once they're finished.

The recipe is VERY simple. But since it involves some cooking on the stovetop, the task of making the dough should be for grown-ups only. (while you're making the sand dough, have kids sort rocks and/or seashells for using to decorate their creations) Combine one cup of sand, one cup of cornstarch and one cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat. It will be watery, but don't worry, it should start to thicken up as the mixture warms. Once it starts to come together into a ball of dough, transfer to a clean bowl to cool before little hands start working their magic.

From here you just let little imaginations run wild. Finn enjoyed simply mooshing his ball of dough around on his board. Robbie proceeded to build a fortress for his "seashell". I made "starfish". This batch of dough was made from a scoop of sand I grabbed from the boys' sandbox. I suspect that real beach sand would be even better. The sandbox sand is a little too white and artificial looking. As I was molding my "starfish" I found myself wishing the dough had some specks of black like at the beach. Once the creations are complete, put them out in the sun to dry. If pieces fall off (as they did with Robbie's castle), use some white glue to reconstruct the masterpiece once it is dry.

I couldn't stop thinking about how dough made with crushed coral sand from Hawaii would look. There are so many possibilities! I'll probably turn my small creations into magnets for the fridge. Next time I make a batch, I think I'll mold some into small blocks of all shapes and sizes. Once they dry they would make excellent sand castle blocks! (that might be more fun for Finn who, at 3-years old, is more excited by stacking than molding) Regardless, the kids were very intrigued by the whole proecess. You can definitely expect to fill an afternoon with this project. Have fun!

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