Homemade Sparkly Scented Play Dough

We get through so much play dough that I thought I’d be worth having a go making it ourselves. I’ve tried a couple of times before but always ended up with that stodgy floury nursery school smelling stuff. This time I experiented with some different ingredients and invested in some good essential oils. The children enjoyed having different fragrances to sniff, they love smelling the tester perfumes in shops so it was great to have an activity like this at home. 

To make four colours –

You will need 

2 cups plain flour

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1/2 cup salt

2 tablespoons cream of tartar

1 – 1.5 cups of warm previously boiled water

Food colouring 

3-4 drops of glycerine

Essential oils

Vanilla essence

Bowls

Wooden spoons

Plastic containers to store play dough 

Glitter


I used cinnamon leaf, pine needle and mandarin essential oils and vanilla essence. Make sure to research the oils which are safe for you and children, also in pregnancy and breastfeeding. Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil such as grapeseed oil.

I have used grapeseed oil with all my children in baby massage so I knew their skin wouldn’t react to it. A good tip my baby massage instructor showed me, if using for the first time, is to dab a little on the wrist and wait ten minutes to see if there is a reaction or not.

I divided the ingredients into four so the children could make a tub with a different colour and scent each. But you can always make one batch and then divide the dough to  colour and fragrance.

1. Into four bowls add flour, salt and cream of tartar. 


2. In a separate jug add 2-3 drops of essential oil (or 1tsp vanilla essence) to a teaspoon of grape seed oil and glycerine.

3. Add a 1/4 cup of warm water to the mixture and add the food colouring. 

4. Take one of the bowls of the flour mixture and slowly combine the wet mixture with the dry, adding more plain water if needed, until you get a bread dough like consistency that can be kneaded.

5. Adding different colours and scents repeat stages 2,3,4 for the remaining three bowls of flour mix  

I used yellow with vanilla, green with pine needle, orange with mandarin and red with cinnamon.



6. Place the dough on a smooth surface and add a sprinkle of glitter (too much will cause the dough to crack). 

7. Knead the dough well and it’s ready for play. 


8. Work into a soft ball and store in airtight containers when finished with


If you feel the dough needs refreshing at any point rub a few drops of grapeseed oil into hands and work though the dough, it moistens the dough and your hands!

Make a Children’s Apron 

Materials

Oil cloth 

Invisible thread 

Apron tape 150cm

Cotton thread to match rear side of oil cloth

Cotton thread to match apron tape

Paper Scissors 

Fabric scissors 

90/14 machine needle

Teflon machine foot

Pattern paper

Pencil 

Set square 

Sew on Velcro (2cm wide and 7cm length)


1. Draw pattern using set square for straight edges and making the arm curves not to severe otherwise it won’t hem well.

2. When happy with pattern, cut the oilcloth 

3. Cut x3 50cm of apron tape

4. Double fold the end of two of the strips of apron tape and stitch with coordinating cotton

5. Hem the arm curves with a single fold (approx 0.8cm) and stitch in place, using invisible thread in the spool and cotton thread that matches the backside of the oil cloth in the bobbin.

6. Stitch the two unhemmed tapes in position as shown above

7. Stitch the remaining tape to the two points shown above.

8. Hem the remaining edges

9. Change the bobbin thread to the colour that matches the tape. Fold back and stitch all four points where tape is attached 


To make the neck strap adjustable… 

10. Cut the neck strap 11cm up on the right and hem both ends.

 

11. Sew 5cm of the hook side of Velcro to the short part of the strap and sew 7cm of the loop side to the long part making sure they fasten as pictured below.

Wooden peg dolls

What is it about pound shops? I go in for kitchen roll and come out with a basket full of all sorts. I picked up some wooden pegs on my last visit, I wasn’t sure what we were going to do with them. Today it started chucking it down outside so out came the craft boxes. 

To make the dolls you will need:

pva glue
glue brush
twine
wooden pegs
felt (various colours)
black pen
embroidery thread
sewing needle
paper
ruler
pencil
scissors
  

1. Take a square piece of paper and draw dress pattern (as above)

2. Using dress template to cut felt

  
3. Cut twine (x12 of 10cm lengths)

4. Glue twine strands to top of peg. Leave to dry and cut if needs to be neatened.

*a hand embroidery design on felt can be completed whilst glue dries

   

5. Glue dress in place – apply glue just to top as shown above. Then down a strip to secure the edges of felt

 

6. Draw face

  
7. Handsew a running stitch along hem and tie some thread across the waist.

  
  
The children have played with them for most of the day. 

  
They also enjoyed making some; drawing faces and choosing dress and hair colour.
  

  

Sand Garden

One of my favourite things to do with the children is going on walks and collecting pebbles, shells, feathers and flowers.

Last year we made this pretty sand garden with an old plastic tub, some sand, rocks and flowers. My daughter, who was two and a half at the time, really enjoyed arranging it all.

   

Make a cushion cover

Cushions are an easy way to update a room by adding colour, texture and reflecting the changing seasons or celebrations throughout the year. 

They are simple to make and a luxurious and professional finish can be obtained for a fraction of the cost of a retail equivalent.

We have a nearby shop that sells the scraps from a high end furniture upholstery workshop. The fabric for the cushions I made here cost £4. It’s always worth having a root around in a remnants box.

MATERIALS & EQUIPMENT

Fabric (medium weight)

Fabric scissors

Pins

Pattern paper

Ruler with set square 

Pencil

Matching strong cotton thread

50cm invisible zip

Sewing machine

Overlocker (or alternative seam finishing materials)

METHOD

I’ve run out of pattern paper so I used some baking paper to draw the pattern. This makes a 50x50cm cushion cover. Each piece, as shown below, has a 1cm seam allowance. 

(Adjust measurements to your requirements – always remember to add 1cm seam allowance).

   

Use a set square to get the right angles straight. Double check all the measurements, cut the templates and pin in place on fabric. 

If you are using fabric with a pattern, remember to pin template according to pattern. If using velvet, be sure that the grain flows in the same direction for all the pieces.

I made two cushions so folded fabric to cut x2 pieces at the same time.

 

 
Cut fabric and overlock the edges. If you don’t have an overlocker, fabric glue will seal edges or iron on webbing, binding or zig zag stitch.
 
Machine stitch the open zip in place with an invisible zip foot. 

It should like this from the back (picture above)

And like this from the front (pic below)  

Change machine invisible zip foot to a zip foot (looks like a regular machine foot that’s been cut in half).

Next, with the zip open, sew 8cm in from the sides of cover to close the openings on both ends of the zip (sew as close to the zip as possible – you’ll be able to feel the zip through the fabric). 

The gap shown in the above picture should now be sewn together so there should be a neat finish when opening and closing the zip.

Pin front and back pieces together with the wrong side showing (making sure grain and pattern is matched) **Leave zip open halfway -so cushion can be turned the right way after stitching edges.

Sew all edges leaving 1cm seam. 

Turn the cover the right way through the open zip and gently push the corners out with a blunt intrument such as a knitting needle.

Insert a duck feather cushion pad. 

I’ve used a 56cm cushion pad but one up to 60-70cm can be used for extra plumpness.

   

Spaghetti & Meatballs

I’ve made this a couple of times recently and our 23 month old has loved it. It’s got grated carrots and courgettes in which is great for children, like our three year old, who don’t like eating big chunks of veg, or toddlers just getting used to a variety of textures.

I’ve used ready made meatballs but homemade ones can always be prepared beforehand (much better if trying to keep salt to a minimum for younger ones). 

serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

olive oil

1 medium onion (grated)

2 carrots (grated)

1 large courgette (grated)

1 garlic clove

Red wine (optional)

24 meatballs (4/5cm diameter)

x2 400g tin finely chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tbsp sugar

200ml vegetable stock (salt free if preferred)

1 tbsp fresh basil (chopped)

Parmesan (grated)

Spaghetti

Salt and pepper

METHOD

Heat 3tbsp oil in a large frying pan. 

With a low heat fry onions for 3 mins

Add carrots, cook for further 2 mins

Add courgettes and cook for 10 mins

Add tomato puree and garlic and cook for 5mins

Add a splash of wine (optional) turn up heat and reduce 

Then add the stock, chopped tomatoes and sugar. Bring to a simmer whilst browning meatballs in another pan.

Add the browned meatballs to sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to simmer for 20-25 minutes. 

Cook spaghetti. 

Add basil to sauce and serve with Parmesan