The kitchen is a wonderful place to make holiday memories with children. The sights and smells of holiday baking often create a treasured experience as well as an opportunity to teach important skills to children.
Overwhelmed with too many delicious holiday treats? The kitchen can also be used to make non-edible gifts. Homemade gifts such as a salt dough ornament can cost very little and are fun for kids of all ages to create. Did you ever make a salt dough ornament or handprint as a child?
Salt dough is easy to make. It only requires three ingredients, and can be used to make ornaments, figurines, and other items. The creations are then baked and decorated. Young children can help scoop, measure, dump, mix and knead the dough. This helps children build small muscle skills, social skills and math skills.
A word of caution - raw flour may contain bacteria that can cause illness. Flour does not look like a raw food, but typically, it is. This means it has not been treated to kill germs such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), which causes food poisoning. Bacteria are killed only when food made with flour is cooked. Never taste or eat raw dough or batter. Make sure children wash hands before and after handling salt dough.
Salt Dough for Crafting (not for eating)
- 4 cups flour
- 1 cup table salt
- 1 ½ cups water
- Wash hands with soap and water. Preheat oven to 300°F.
- In a large bowl, measure and mix the flour and salt. Add water to the dry mixture.
- Mix all the ingredients together with a large spoon. Use clean hands to finish bringing the dough into a ball shape. Place the dough on a flat surface lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Knead the dough for a few minutes. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin or a glass. Divide dough into 2-4 smaller pieces for easier handling. Cut out ornaments using cookie cutters, move to ungreased cookie sheet. Poke hole using a straw in order to add a ribbon to hang the ornaments. Transfer parchment paper (with dough items on top) to a baking sheet.
- Bake for 1 hour in a 300°F oven, or until dough has hardened. Once the crafts have completely cooled and dried, young children may decorate with water-based paint. A variety of colors of ribbon or string may be used to hang the crafts. They can also be hung as-is on a nail in the wall!
For a handprint craft: Roll dough to ¼ - ½" thickness. Use a 4-5" round cookie cutter (or the rim of a bowl) to cut out circle shapes. Press the child's hand in the center of each circle shape, making sure fingers and palm press down to an equal depth, then gently and slowly take hand off. Use a paper lollipop stick to make a hole if you intend to hang the handprint.
For more holiday ideas, tips and recipes, check out these resources: