There are times when I enjoy motherhood for the sweet and slobbery kisses from my sweet baby girl, or the big bear hugs from my big boy... for the precious yawn from a sleeping babe, or the intensely piercing look of my son as he tries to figure something out.
And then there are the times when I enjoy playing alongside them and I forget that I'm the Mumma. Cloud Dough is one of those activities which - until it is over - I feel like a little kid again. The dough is soft like the flour it's made with, but moldable. I've heard people refer to it as 'like moon sand,' but I've never experienced moon sand, so I'm not sure.
Either way, it's incredible fun (and messy). This recipe is on the smaller side, but we were low on flour having just made a big batch of Squash & Apple Bread. I'd recommend 2-3 three cups per child, depending on the age. Here's what you need:
4 cups flour
1 cup baby oil
large pan for each child
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and baby oil using your hands. I found out the hard way that this is best done by the grown up alone before the kiddos are involved. Ahem.
Spread the sheet our on a tile floor (use one that's already headed for the wash - no sense in making more laundry, ever.) Settle your little ones with a selection of small bowls, cups, spoons, cookie cutters, and other toys to use. I divided the Cloud Dough into two 9x12 pans and gave each of the kids their own pan. Since my kids are at very different stages developmentally, I knew that anything Ethan tried to build, Olivia would smush, causing a fight. I opted to avoid this by giving them their own play space. If you're hoping to promote sharing and teamwork, you could certainly share a pan between two kids, though I'd suggest that they're roughly the same age.
For Olivia, this was all about scooping and dumping. Sometimes she used a toddler spoon to scoop, other times her hands - but always it ended up dumped out. Ethan was busy making castles and roads, and even caves for his dinosaurs. I've noticed, as have his teachers, that his play is very mathematical... he's analytical like his father.
He long outlasted his sister with this activity (though that was in part because she was busted for eating the Cloud Dough and sentenced to twenty minutes of solitary bathing.)
I imagine that you could use Cloud Dough more than once... some unfortunate incidents occurred with ours that made that not possible to test this time around. While I admire my son's adventurous and inquisitive nature, dumping water in with the dough despite Mr. Juggling Act's warnings was not a good choice and ultimately what ended getting him also busted and sent to solitary bathing.
(Side note: Water-based food coloring will not work with Cloud Dough. Um, that was my bad choice. My punishment was blue-tinged fingertips, and a messy floor.)
I must confess that despite the sheet on the floor, there was still a pretty big mess in the kitchen. Part of this had to do with my dump-happy toddler, and part of it had to do with my glee at playing alongside my children instead of just supervising them... no matter, it was fun and well worth the five extra minutes it took me to sweep up after I'd shaken off the sheet outside.