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Inexpensive activities for "indoor" days

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Spring is here with its weird weather patterns that sometimes keep the children indoors. So having some ideas up your sleeve for those days might come in handy.

The pleasure of forming a shape or pounding play dough or drawing a picture for the refrigerator gallery are just a couple simple joys of early childhood. Plus children learn about muscle control and develop their small muscles when they do activities that make use of their hands.

Here are a few recipes that are inexpensive, yet will provide plenty of amusement for young children.

Molding sand

4 cups fine sand; 2 cups cornstarch; 4 teaspoons cream of tartar; 3 cups of hot water; vegetable oil

Measuring cups, measuring spoons, large saucepan, wooden spoon

Add sand, cornstarch and cream of tartar. Stir in water with wooden spoon. Cook on medium heat. Stir until mixture gets too thick to stir. Let cool before using. Coat hands with oil before molding. (please note that this cannot be stored for reuse!)

Recycled crayons

Ever wonder what to do with that shoebox of broken and “too short” crayons?? Here is a good idea.

Broken or used crayons

Muffin tin, paper liners (cupcake liners)

Tear wrappers off crayons. Sort crayons by color. Put paper liners in muffin tins. Place crayons into muffin tin, a different color in each cup. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake until crayons are melted. Cool. Peel away paper liners. Viola! Ready for drawing!!

Coffee clay

¼ cup instant coffee, 1 ½ cups warm water, 4 cups flour, 1 cup salt

2 mixing bowls, measuring cups, wooden spoon, fork

Place coffee in a bowl. Add water and stir to dissolve. In second bowl, mix flour and salt. Use spoon to make a hollow in the center of the flour mixture. Pour coffee into hole. Mix dough. Knead until shiny. (after molding, clay can either be stored in a plastic bag for reuse or hardened by baking in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.

So enjoy trying out these inexpensive ideas with your child. For more information check out the book The Cooking Book by Laura J. Colker.

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