I'm delighted to welcome another guest today. Doña Bumgarner is sharing a fantastic project she did with her little one this fall. As we look toward winter around the corner, it would be fun to create these salt dough ornaments with snowflakes or other winter-themed shapes.
Thanks for such a great project Doña and for sharing some great resources below.
My daughter is not quite 3 years old and this month she quit napping. It has been a hard transition for both of us and the middle of the afternoon often finds us both exhausted and mean.
On one such afternoon, when the stretch to dinner and bedtime seemed interminable, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration.
I have few boards of activities for little ones, but on this day I remembered reading something about using sensory input to calm overwrought toddlers, so I pulled up the sensory activities board. I needed a project that didn’t require a trip to the store, because there was no way we were going to manage that.
Salt dough leaf ornaments. Perfect. Easy to make, short list of ingredients and supplies, and fast.
I pulled out the mixing bowl and flour jar and Bean came running into the kitchen to see what I was doing. She loves to help me cook (and I try to let her, even when it takes much longer) so she was immediately hooked. And then when I told her she could mix the dough with her hands? She was in heaven.
The dough was warm from the water and the texture was similar to the Play Doh that she loves. And the impact was immediate. As soon as she got her hands in that bowl I felt her energy unwind. It was magic. She tasted it and smelled it and told me it felt soft and squishy in her hands.
I let her mix as long as she wanted, and then I divided the dough while she picked the dye colors. The original recipe used powdered tempura paint, which I didn’t have, so I substituted food coloring. This didn’t work very well and stained my hands, so if you try this at home, use the powdered paint as suggested or mix the color into the water before making the dough. She likes purple, so along with the standard leaf colors, we made a ball of purple dough.
I helped her roll out and cut the shapes and that was about the end of her interest for the day. I settled her with a TV show while I finished up by poking holes in the leaves for hanging and put them in my dehydrator to dry. You can also use an oven set on low for this step.
She was so excited about the leaves we’d made and showed them to her father as soon as he got home from work.
The rest of the project was split over a few days, continued whenever she indicated interest. One night after dinner we painted the leaves with Mod Podge (I highly recommend their washable version when you are crafting with little kids!). Another afternoon we went for a walk around the neighborhood to find a branch to hang them on.
Then two or three ornaments at a time, because this part was more frustrating for her, we cut lengths of thread and hung them on our branch, which adorned our kitchen counter for a few days until our boy cat decided it was fun to play with.
What I loved about this project was that it was so simple and so accessible. I also loved that it gave us something to come back to over the course of a week. But the best part was it reminded me that when Bean is having a really rough day I can try to bring her back to center by introducing a project that engages her senses. That’s an awesome mama trick to keep in my back pocket.
If you’d like to see the other sensory activities I have pinned, that board is here. You can also check out my boards for arts and crafts with kids, educational play, and self-directed toys and busy bags.
Doña Bumgarner is a writer, artist, mama and a craft project-collector from way back. She loves Pinterest and uses it to help solve a household dilemma at least once a week (see her “pinned and done” board here) She lives in Santa Cruz with her partner, their little one and his almost grown one, and a collection of cats and chickens. She writes about the importance and struggles of moms with little ones to hold space for their own well being in the midst of raising a family on her blog, Nurtured Mama.
Note from Liz: Over here in my corner, I'm trying to "use Pinterest for good." I really see it as a community of people trying to see the beauty and possibility in their lives. I'm adding a few new features here on my blog inspired by or directly about Pinterest as a way to invite others to look for this beauty within a social media community. Connect with me on Pinterest here. Read other "Pinned it. Did it." columns here.