(aka cabin fever busters)
Now that the madness is Christmas is over my oldest daughter still has 11 days of school holidays left, but my husband goes back to work tomorrow. The weather can get as cold as -30 with wind chill some days, and my husband needs our car to get to work which means we are cooped up in a major way.
One of the ways I know we will be passing the time is with play dough. It's quiet, it's good for fine motor skills and it keeps her happy for hours. I have a special play dough bin that I keep on top of the china hutch in our dining room so it's ready to play with whenever she gets the urge.
The 'Play Doh' company sells all sorts of overpriced sets full of gadgets to make different things, but I find my cheaper 'set' is much more fun, and the dough is much softer and better smelling.
These are the essentials:
1. A big container of homemade play dough. I have a great recipe on my other blog for a play dough mix you can whip up and make in smaller batches. Last time I made her 6 different colors, and of course she mixed them all together, so next time I'm going to stick to one color at a time. The recipe is here.
2. A rolling pin (or water bottle) for rolling dough out.
3. Plastic cookie cutters (The metal ones can scratch surfaces). They tend to sell a lot of seasonal ones at the dollar store so I buy some new ones every holiday to mix it up.
4. A plastic knife for cutting.
5. Unlit birthday candles.
My daughter likes to make many tiered birthday cakes with the play dough, decorate them with candles, sing happy birthday, slice the cake, serve it on toy plates, and then start all over again. She can make dozens of cakes in an afternoon once she gets going.
We used to make them using different size cups, but then we found this set of different sized circle cookie cutters at the dollar store. We also found a set of squares and flowers to mix it up.
Any time we get any other play dough related crap in goody bags or for birthday gifts, they get thrown into the bottom of the play dough bin too.
After a lot of cursing and carpet scrubbing we have banished all play dough related activities to the kitchen table only, which makes clean up much faster and easier. My younger daughter is 18 months now and is starting to want to be included in EVERYTHING her big sister does, but she's too young to sit in a chair and also accidentally squishes all of her sisters works of art. I've taken to letting her use play dough, color or do other craft type activities in her high chair with the tray on which makes her feel included but keeps the beast contained.
A pacifier in the mouth keeps her from eating it (it also works for sand in the summer!).