Summertime is in full swing where I live with temperatures topping out over 100 degrees day after day.
Unless you live near a pool or know someone who does, staying outside for more than a few minutes at a time is not only not fun, it is also dangerous.
Since we don't have a pool, our summer fun has moved mostly indoors, but that doesn't mean it's boring. In fact, one of our recent activities was messy, colorful and fruit-flavored. All things that are perfectly summer.
We made our own play dough.
Now, I usually stay away from store-bought Play-Doh. I don't like the smell, and it leaves a crumbly mess. Yuck.
However, when I saw a recipe for homemade play dough using Jell-O, I knew it would be perfect for a hot day while quarantined inside with kids.
If you find yourself in the same situation, here are two recipes to get through the day.
First, my recipe for fruit-scented play dough.
1/4 cup white flour
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon cream of tartar
1/2 tablespoon cooking oil
1/4 3 ounce package of Jell-O (I eyeballed what 1/4 of the package would be, and then mixed. Add a little more for deeper color.)
Mix all ingredients in a small pot over medium heat.
Stir until mixture thickens into a ball of dough about five minutes.
Place dough on a floured surface and let cool.
When it cools, knead play dough until it is no longer sticky by incorporating some of the flour on your work surface.
And, my recipe for summer afternoon fun.
4-5 colors of homemade play dough
1 tray of cookie cutters and other plastic tools for cutting
1 vinyl table cloth
2 snack choices
a handful of friends
Start by covering your table, floor or work surface of choice with the table cloth.
Give kids some play dough.
Put a tray of different toys and tools that kids can use to cut, shape and decorate their play dough. We used cookie cutters and plastic eating utensils, but you can also try straws, plastic toys and cups.
Let the kids create.
I tried to encourage my girls to spell their names with alphabet cookie cutters and make hearts in rainbow colors. You may find that even though you are inside, the heat may affect kids ability to follow instruction in which case, just let them make their own dough sculptures no matter how unidentifiable.
When they finish creating or the mess is beyond your comfort level, it is time for a snack. I served fresh fruit and Jell-O, because I had it leftover from the play dough, but if your kids are behaving and you have a few extra minutes to prep, try making these mini Jell-O desserts Meredith serves her family. They're simple, but special.
While they eat, store your homemade play dough in airtight container. If you have little friends over and you have enough, you may want to send them home with a bowl of their favorite play dough color.
Since it should last for a week or two, kids can bring it out any time they are stuck inside. And, since our forecast shows nothing but temps in the triple digits, it looks like Jell-O play dough may end up being our most frequent summertime activity.