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How to make your own playdough

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Mess is Good! Toddlers like nothing more than getting their hands dirty. Splashing through puddles, messing around in the mud and causing a big mess with toys brings guaranteed giggles. Embrace this sense of fun by involving your child in cooking, gardening and hand-painting. And why not make your own playdough?
GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY Toddlers love new experiences, and for most, there's nothing more fun than getting nice and grubby playing with water, mud or anything else they can get their hands into! Make the most of this carefree, inquisitive phase by encouraging messy play that teaches your child about different the different properties, textures and smells of safe, everyday substances. Why not take a few minutes to make your own playdough. Follow this simple recipe, and let your toddler help spooning out the flour and pouring in the water:

- 150g (6oz) plain white flour
- 300ml (1/2 pint) warm water with a few drops of food dye
- 75g (3oz) salt
- 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
- 2 tsp cream of tartar

Put all the ingredients into a large saucepan. Place over a medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and forms a ball of dough. Scrape out the dough, allow it to cool a little, and knead it until all ingredients are evenly distributed and you're left with a smooth ball of dough. Add some water if the dough is too stiff, or dust with flour if too sticky. When cold, store your playdough in an airtight container or a zip-lock food bag in a cool, dry place.

Remember that at this young age, your toddler may be tempted to put pieces of dough into his mouth. So never leave him alone with playdough. Teach him that it is not for eating, and encourage him to bury his fingers in it, mould, pat, chop up and decorate this fascinating new play thing.

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