Ask: Recipes for fun

Pam's daughter once thought her own skin was a great canvas for her mother's homemade paints.
Pam's daughter once thought her own skin was a great canvas for her mother's homemade paints.

Got bored kids at home? Postpartum doula Pam Diamond has some recipes for successful playtime. While cleaning out files recently, I found some oldie but goodie arts-and-crafts ideas leftover from my early parenting days. We got so much mileage out of them in my home that I’m delighted to share them with you. With winter weather around the corner, these will prove to be fun ways to enjoy cold days.

  The following activities are great to do with toddlers and preschoolers. While we may still have some beautiful fall days ahead, take advantage of the outdoors and set up your little ones on a picnic table or something easily hosed off and have at it. Remember, our internal clocks are largely regulated by light. Fresh air and sunshine and fun activities every day are important. 

  When activities need to be inside, create an arts-and-crafts-friendly indoor space with an old shower curtain on the floor and plastic or washable tablecloth underneath the projects. 

  Get creative. Bring out kitchen utensils like the garlic press or potato ricer for the homemade play dough. Let your imagination run wild! Most importantly, have fun! 


Play Dough


Yield: 2 cups


1 1/2 cups water

2 tsp liquid food coloring

2 tbsp cooking oil

2 cups flour

1/2 cup salt

4 tbsp cream of tartar


In a small bowl, combine water, food coloring and oil. Set aside. 

Put flour, salt and cream of tartar into a large saucepan. 

Over medium heat, pour the water mixture into the saucepan, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 5 minutes, until a ball of dough forms.

Cool the dough for 5 minutes, then knead with hands until smooth.

Store in fridge when not in use. 




Yield: 2 cups


1 cup green dishwashing detergent

1/2 cup glycerine, available at drug stores

1/2 cup water


In a metal can or plastic container, combine detergent, glycerine and water. Mix thoroughly. 

Dip wand into the container, making sure a film of liquid is stretched across it. Blow gently for super long-lasting bubbles. 




Yield: 1 to 1 1/2 cups


1/2 tsp Borax detergent, available in grocery store

1/4 cup cold water

1/4 cup cornstarch

4 oz. white craft glue

2 tsp green liquid food coloring


In a disposable plastic container, combine Borax and water until the Borax has dissolved. Set aside. 

Sift the cornstarch into a mixing bowl. Add the glue, mix well.

Add the Borax solution, stirring constantly for two minutes even after the goop forms. 

Knead goop with your hands until it is no longer sticky. 



Finger Paints


Yield: 3/4 cup of each color


1 envelope unflavored gelatin

2 1/2 cups cold water

1 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup soap flakes

2 drops each of four shades of icing color paste, available at craft and baking supply stores


In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup of the water and mix until dissolved.

Combine the cornstarch, soap flakes, and remaining 2 cups of water in a saucepan over medium heat. 

Add gelatin mixture to the saucepan, stirring until it becomes thick.

Remove the pan from the heat and strain the mixture equally into four containers.

Cool for an hour and then add a different shade of icing color paste to each container. Fold in color until thoroughly mixed. Note: Undiluted paste will stain hands and clothing. 

Store in fridge when not in use. 



I also have a recipe for peanut butter play dough, which means edible play dough. Email me at if you’d like that recipe. 




Pam Diamond is a parent coach, postpartum doula, baby sleep consultant and owner of First Daze & Nightzzz, LLC. Pam’s goal is to help parents and babies get off to the best possible start. She helps families fix what’s not working and enjoy what is. She lives in Cary with her husband and two teenage children. You can learn more about Pam on her website: First Daze & Nightzzz, or email her at