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Finding something to do with your kids can be challenging. You want safe, they want entertaining, and neither of you wants to clean up a huge mess when you are done. Look at some of the recipes below and see if they fit the bill. There are a few things to remember when doing any of these projects or really anything with your children. Go into a project well rested and with plenty of patience; neither you nor your children will enjoy yourselves very much if you are tired, stressed, or rushed. Also, do not overestimate or underestimate your kids' needs. A school-age child can probably do many of these recipes his/herself, with you standing by, perhaps helping to measure; a younger child will need more help but will still enjoy the project. Be sure to store all of your projects in airtight containers when you are done. One last note to keep in mind is that any project that contains food coloring can potentially stain.


1 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 c. water
1 c. salt
2 T. cornstarch
2 t. vegetable oil
3-6 drops food coloring

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl; set aside. Combine oil and water. Add small amounts of the oil and water mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a soft ball. Add food coloring a few drops at a time until the color reaches the desired intensity. Knead well.


1 c. flour
4 c. water
food coloring

Combine flour and one cup of water in saucepan. Heat and stir until smooth. Add remaining three cups of water and heat to boiling. Boil for one minute. Allow to cool. Pour into several paper cups or plastic bowls and add a different color of food coloring to each one.

Note: To add some variety to your children’s painting, stir some sand, glitter, or other small objects into your paint.


1/2 c. school paste
1 c. water
1 t. borax
food coloring

Add 1/2 cup water to school paste and stir. Add remaining 1/2 cup of water to borax; stir until dissolved. Add the two mixtures together. Squeeze and knead until putty becomes firm, pouring off excess water as needed. Add a few drops of food coloring and knead thoroughly.

Now the fun begins. Get large rolls of butcher paper for the kids to paint on, or staple several papers together to make a “book.” Press your funny putty on the Sunday comic strips to get an imprint of the people's faces, and then stretch them out. Have fun and don’t worry about the mess; you will be surprised at how much help you get when it’s time to clean up.

Do not forget all the natural things that you can find to use as well. Send the kids out to collect leaves to put under their paper and do rubbings. Be sure to bring in some rocks as well; the kids will love to paint these. As you can see, there is plenty to do without spending a lot of money. With a little time and planning, your kids will enjoy themselves and so will you.