Play Doh and other Sculpting Material for Kids

Alex is playing with Play Doh right now while I write this article. I love the stuff since it provides Alex with a fun, creative activity that keeps him busy so can do my own thing. Sure, he likes to have me sculpt with him and will often bring clay over and ask me to make him this or that, but he also plays independently some of the time.

Whoever invented Play Doh was smart, making all of the different colors. We make a real effort to keep the colors true here, but Alex has a Play Doh ice cream sundae shop which practically requires mixing colors. The set is a lot of fun, but eventually when all the colors turn into the same mud brown, we’ll probably have to get more Play Doh.

The other draw back to making Play Doh sundaes, is in spite of the fact that Alex knows they are not edible, he has still tried tasting them a few times. I always know when Alex tries to eat the Play Doh because he spits it out and says yuck. Alas the dog also thinks Play Doh looks like something he can eat, and the dog does not spit it back up again, so we have to make sure the clay stays off the floor. Thank goodness Play Doh is non-toxic.

When I was a kid, my mom use to make salt clay for us. An easy recipe is mix 2 cups flour with 1 cup salt and 1 cup water. The clay can be sculpted, colored with food coloring, and rolled and cut with cookie cutters. Finished pieces can be cooked between 200 to 250 degrees for 1 to 2 hours until dry. The clay also air dries, though it is sturdier when cooked.

I remember being in an art class as a little kid when the teacher made edible clay for us. Now the salt clay was edible, I suppose, but it did not taste very good. This clay, on the other hand, was sweet, and, as a kid, I thought it was delicious. Alas, I do not know what recipe the teacher used. There are several edible clay recipes online if you are interested in giving making edible clay a try.

I no longer sculpt with Play Doh or salt clay myself (unless I am sculpting with Alex). I use Polymer, Epoxy, and ceramic clays which are definitely not safe for kids to eat. Some of them aren’t even safe for me to handle (I have to wear gloves). I am very glad that there are so many safe clays, like Play Doh, for kids to work with.

There are various classes and activities that creative kids may enjoy in the Portland area. The Portland Children’s Museum has a clay studio where kids can play with clay and offers art classes. Portland Parks offers art classes and drop in activities at several of their community centers. Inflatable Kingdom offers art activities for parties including spin art, beading, and mask making.

-HL