Clay or papier-mâché, salt dough, Fimo or plasticine: With modeling clay, children can let off steam creatively, give free rein to their imagination and really have a lot of fun. However, Ökotest 2017 found that many plasticines are not really suitable for children but sometimes contain harmful chemicals.
Which modeling clay is good for children? And how can you make plasticine yourself?
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Make Your Own Plasticine, Make Your Own Salt Dough Or Buy An Alternative?
Colorful figures, food for the doll’s kitchen or simply a bit of seasonal decoration: children can make a lot out of plasticine. The soft plasticine on sale promotes the development of spatial thinking, three-dimensional imagination and motor skills.
It’s no wonder that children’s plasticine is considered an educationally valuable toy. But Ökotest warns: Many products contain harmful substances that are carcinogenic or can alter genetic material. Toddlers, in particular, should not use this type of modeling clay, as they often put their fingers in their mouths when working with it.
You can make your own plasticine. With homemade plasticine, you can be sure that it is safe for your child’s health. But how exactly can you make the soft dough yourself? And what is it about salt dough that the older generation always raves about?Also interesting:
What Did The Consumer Magazine Ökotest Find?
ÖKOTEST has already examined 15 commercially available modeling clay for children for harmful substances in laboratories in 2017. Substances that are highly controversial or known to be of concern were found in almost all products.
MOAH compounds, so-called aromatic mineral oil hydrocarbons, are carcinogenic or alter genetic material even in the smallest quantities. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) warns against these chemicals. Why, of all things, are they contained in children’s dough?
Not only toddlers are at risk. Even at kindergarten and elementary school age, your child will occasionally run his hands through his face, wipe his eyes or thoughtfully touch his mouth while kneading.
But that’s exactly what must not happen, because that’s how the plasticine gets into the body in small quantities. ÖKOTEST found only three of the examined plasticines free from questionable and controversial substances.
Three products were rated “poor” and another “insufficient”. You can read the test results in the individual article at ÖKOTEST. However, the complete test can only be viewed for a fee. Plasticine from the eco segment, such as Nawaro, was rated “very good”.
In addition to the MOAH contained, ÖKOTEST criticized many doughs for being too colorful. Aromatic amines are used to color the clay. These substances are sometimes somewhat difficult to detect.
However, ÖKOTEST has found dye components that are suspected of causing cancer in some doughs. Aniline is one such substance. there are no legal limits for these controversial chemicals. Nevertheless, the amines should not be included in children’s toys.
Hasbro has been criticized particularly harshly for Play-Do school modeling clay, which still contains formaldehyde/amine. Since the manufacturer has already been warned for this in two past tests and has apparently not changed the clay’s formula, the rating was correspondingly poor.
Making Colorful Children’s Dough From Food Yourself
Actually, you once learned that you should not play with food. But what if, for your child, eating and playing are the same thing? This is completely normal for children! They discover the world through play, are interested in this and that, and learn a lot in the process.
If you want to encourage your toddler’s motor skills and allow him to have fun discovering his creativity, then children’s modelling clay is certainly the right toy for both of you.
So you should make sure that your child can put his fingers smeared with plasticine into his mouth without having to think about cancer, infertility or other evils. Relaxed play with your child is more important. Because we know that, we have researched a recipe for children’s parties for you that is completely harmless.
Admittedly: The do-it-yourself modelling clay is not particularly tasty. But you want to model with your child, not feast. In a large bowl you mix.
- 400 g flour.
- 200 g salt.
- 2 tablespoons citric acid or 2 teaspoons tartaric acid.
- 500 ml boiling water.
- 3 tbsp. cooking oil.
- Food coloring.
The water must be really boiling. Therefore, it is safer if you make the kneading mass without the help of your child, but with a hand mixer. Once the ingredients are all mixed well and cooled down a bit, you can knead them further by hand.
At the end, the mass should have about the consistency of cookie dough. If you add the food coloring directly to the dough with the other ingredients, you will have a large amount of dough in only one color.
You can also make the dough yourself without adding the color. Then you have the option to separate the finished mass into several parts and color each separately. Food coloring in liquid form or as a gel can be easily incorporated.
Important: Wear gloves. Your skin will also absorb the color, and it won’t wash out easily. The homemade dough will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator, thanks to the incorporated salt.
Do You Want To Keep Your Dough Works Of Art?
Your child will want to keep the works of art he or she has made from the colorful dough. You yourself, of course, have also kneaded, perhaps sculpted a beautiful bowl, a seasonal decoration, or a set of small cups for the doll’s kitchen.
How can you keep these things? With store-bought modeling clay, such as Fimo, it’s easy: the modeling clay is baked in the oven, then it’s solid and hard. However, Fimo is not so suitable for children because of the ingredients, and in addition, the small packets in the really numerous color shades are not quite cheap. You can also bake your homemade plasticine.
Your homemade plasticine, apart from the salt, consists only of ingredients that you also use in baking. Therefore, you can even preserve the kneaded works of art of your child.
To do this, you dry the figures, bowls, decorations or whatever your child has made, for about a week. Ideally, this should be done directly on the heater. Then you should bake them in the oven at 150° C (convection oven) for about 30 minutes to 60 minutes.
If you do not do this, the mass will draw moisture from the air after drying and will not be durable. The baking time varies: The thicker the figures are, the longer it will take.
Are There Any Other Recipes?
Making dough yourself is not a completely new idea: even grandma used to do something like this with us. Making your own salt dough and using the food to make durable modeling clay to shape all kinds of objects was still normal in the 1970s and 1980s.
Most of the recipes for making your own modeling clay are still based on the recipes for making your own salt dough today. Our next recipe is one that your child is welcome to help with. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water.
- 1/4 cup salt.
- 1 tablespoon oil.
- 2 cups of flour.
Your two-year-old child can help you knead this mixture. However, children as young as 4 years old should help with filling and measuring. Mix water, salt and oil in a bowl. Then slowly knead in the flour.
You can then color the smooth mass completely or partially with food coloring or Easter egg coloring. Here, too, the salt ensures a longer shelf life. The oil should be added to the kneading mass so that it remains supple and the skin does not dry out during kneading.
In the refrigerator, this modeling clay will also keep for several months, and it can be made durable in the oven.
Make Your Own Sand Dough
A modeling clay that dries on its own after a few days in the air, feels grainy and uses less food is sand dough. For this you will need:
- 1 cup of starch flour.
- 2 cups of fine sand (for example bird sand.
- 1 cup of water.
- Possibly food coloring.
Of course, your child can help you with the production. You mix the starch flour and sand in a pot. Slowly add the water and mix in the color. You should always stir thoroughly so that no lumps form in the mass.
The mixture is now slowly heated on the stove. You must always stir vigorously. However, the mixture must not boil. As soon as the mixture has thickened, let it cool down. And then you can already use it.
Sand dough has the advantage that it feels wonderful and is very easy to shape compared to other doughs. However, the manufactured figures dry in the air already in a few days. Therefore, you should always make only as much modeling clay as you really consume immediately with your child.
The Special Recipe: Plasticine Soap
Children not only like to make things themselves, but they also like to give these little works of art as gifts. But always just knead, and then there are dozens of figures standing around? Most parents, grandparents, neighbors, and piano teachers quickly get tired of that.
So how about a modeling clay with “added value”? Kneading soap can be homemade, is easy to knead, and also has a use as soap when washing hands. This is actually the perfect gift. This is what you need to make it:
- 1 tablespoon of shower gel of your choice.
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch.
- Some sunflower oil.
- Food coloring.
A pair of disposable gloves is also quite useful when making this, as food coloring also stains hands. You’ll also need a bowl and an airtight tin.
Kneading soap can be made and used by children as young as three years old. You knead the ingredients all together in a bowl. You should wear gloves when doing this.
The consistency is basically determined by the ratio of starch to oil and shower gel. More cornstarch and more oil will make the kneading soap not stick too much. The finished mass should feel like real plasticine.
The soap will keep longer in airtight tins. You can use it for bathing or washing your hands. However, the figures should dry thoroughly before you give the soap away – otherwise, it will be gone the first time you wash your hands!
Creative Ideas: What You Can Knead
What do children knead? Depending on their age, they will sometimes be more interested in construction vehicles, dinos and unicorns, or perhaps fairies, elves, mud monsters or racing cars. Your child is developing, and so is what they knead.
When you’re creating with your child, you can tackle bigger projects. Such projects should always be related to your child’s everyday life and address topics that your child is interested in anyway. Here are a few ideas:
Children love to play shop at a certain age. You can make small goods for the store out of salt dough or plasticine with your child and decorate the store according to your taste.
The Doll’s House
A dollhouse is made quite quickly from plywood or an old cardboard box. You and your child make the furnishings – bed, table, chairs, cupboard and chest – out of plasticine or salt dough. Make the clay durable in the oven, then your child will have fun with the dollhouse for a long time. Your child can design its own nursery furniture in the dollhouse.
If your child likes to play with cars and vehicles, you can make the three-dimensional equipment for the play carpet out of plasticine. From traffic signs to small trees and park benches to fire stations, police stations, schools and homes, anything is possible.
The Christmas Tree
Colorful stars, baubles, little angels, snowflakes and more – why not make your own tree decorations and get to the bottom of the question of why we actually celebrate Christmas?