Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dough, a dear, or a turtle, or a.....

A friend's child told me about play dough they made at preschool using old coffee grounds, so I looked for recipes online. There are hundreds of sites with recipes and ideas. My little preschool pal pressed shells into a blob of this stuff, and when it dried it looked like a rock with fossils. Very cool.
Clay and dough are wonderful for kids to manipulate, roll, squeeze, pound and shape, even if they don't eventually make something with it. But some kids enjoy having a product, too--especially when it can be presented to someone they love.
So.......I decided to make up a batch of this fragrant dough and see what it would do.

Here's an easy project for kids that results in a pretty nifty gift idea. Form a hunk of dough into a rock shape and press a votive candle into the center. Wiggle it around a bit, and pat the "rock" into place. Now take out the votive and let the piece dry, or hurry it up a little in the oven (see recipe and instructions below).
When the piece is hard, put the votive back into the hollow. When piled with other stones, it looks like the real thing! And you can give yourself extra credit for recycling, too: the coffee grounds.

I also had to make a turtle, of course. My book SCOOT! has a repeating line: "Six silent turtle sit still as stones." So here's a little guy who looks like a stone!

COFFEE DOUGH (or try other variations--there's one with cornmeal I'd like to try)

1 cup used coffee grounds, cooled
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt

Mix together, then add water a little at a time to desired consistency. If it's too wet, add more flour. Knead together to form the dough. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate awhile before using.

I was eager to see the result, so I put my little experiments in a 250 F oven for 30 minutes, then turned them over and baked for another 15 minutes. They were not quite hard, but I'll let them air dry now.

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