Things are always different when we're at my parents' place. They live on a four acre permaculture smallholding and for an HSP (that's a whole other blog post waiting to happen) it's so much easier for me there. This morning I felt capable of making playdough. It's been a long time. I'm not sure if I've ever made it with my children, but I have great memories of it as a child, the smell of it, the salty taste on my hands, making all sorts of shapes and things with it. Since three-year-old Ben's teacher had just recommended him playing with playdough to strengthen his hands for writing it seemed like the perfect time.
I wanted to find a recipe that didn't include cream of tartar, because I was sure we wouldn't have that in the house, and I don't remember it being in the recipe as a child. Luckily I found one on the Cbeebies site that was perfect. A bit awkward that it was in cups (and surprising for a British site) but we had some measuring cups in the drawer, so it was all good. Once we'd mixed the salt, flour, and cornflour I split the mixture in half and coloured half of it red and half blue.
The children had plenty of fun helping me make the dough, and the fun continued once it was kneaded into balls and out on the table. With the help of the cutters I used as a child and various other kitchen bits and bobs they have spent the morning making shapes, mountains, babies in cradles, graves for their Lego men (that was George. He has an interesting mind), pancakes and ice cream.
For an added bonus, while I had the cornflour out, I decided to introduce them again to non-Newtonian fluids, which flow when they're not under pressure but go hard when force is applied. We've shown Oscar and George this before, but I don't think they remembered. I mixed a bowl of cornflour with a little water and put it on the table to show them how it worked. Ben was a little freaked out at first, but Oscar and George were fascinated and George spent at least three quarters of an hour deeply engrossed in this single bowl of cornflour. Now Ben is pretending it's Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings and is digging it out onto the table.
We got a little science in with this, discovering that these fluids work as they do because on the microscopic level you have little grains of solid in a suspension in a liquid. When the fluid moves slowly the particles can move past one another, but under impact there's no time for the particles to move aside and make way, and so they behave like a solid.
Of course as an HSP parent I'm exhausted now and they're still going strong four or five hours later. There's playdough everywhere. But they're having fun, and that's what counts.