Cedarwood Scented Playdough

We love scenting our playdough.  In fact, these days we never make it unscented.  Heads would roll.

Although we often add spices and kitchen ingredients to create various scents lately we have found ourselves using essential oils more often than not.  There is such a broad range to choose from and it’s so dang easy to simply add a couple of drops of oil to the dough and elevate this sensory activity.

The scent of cedarwood is warm and woodsy – perfect for cozy days inside during the holidays.  It is said to improve focus, relieve tension and headaches, and help with breathing when you have a cough or cold.  My little ones basically have colds and coughs consistently from November to March so that last benefit really appeals to me.

Lizzie Homemaker cedarwood scented playdough with Christmas tree inspired loose parts
Cedarwood scented playdough with Christmas tree inspired loose parts.

Cedarwood Scented Playdough

This Christmas I've been making a cedarwood scented playdough with Christmas tree inspired loose parts. I wasn't sure how the kids would react to the smell but wanted to try something a little different. The warm and woodsy scent immediately makes you feel relaxed and cozy, so, needless to say, they loved it.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil, such as canola oil
  • dark green food colouring
  • cedarwood essential oil

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients, except for the essential oil, in a heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for about 3-5 minutes.  The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and should no longer be sticky to the touch.  (If it’s still sticky cook a little longer until it’s not.)
  3. Remove the dough from the pot and allow to cool slightly.  Add several drops of cedarwood essential oil and knead dough until it’s uniform and the oil is fully incorporated.

Store dough in an air-tight container.

Not sure what to do with your bottle of cedarwood essential oil?

Here are some uses that I’ve read about and am interested in exploring:

To treat eczema:  Many people add a few drops of cedarwood oil to coconut oil and apply it topically.  They say it is an effective home remedy in treating eczema.  One of my daughters has eczema and I’m always looking for alternative, more natural solutions for treating her skin.

As a bug repellant – including moths:  I can’t stand mothballs and refuse to use them.  For many years I have put cedar in our closets but the smell fades and it becomes ineffective as a moth deterrent.  Adding cedarwood essential oil to cotton balls sounds like a great alternative mothballs – one that I am going to try this winter.

To reduce arthritis:  I recently sold some playdough at a craft show and was amazed that many of the purchases made were for adults, including a woman who said her elderly mother loves using playdough to combat her arthritis.  Inhaling cedarwood oil and using it on your skin is said to reduce inflammation and reduce joint stiffness.  Based on this, the combo of cedarwood oil and playdough is probably worth trying by those with arthritic hands and fingers.

To treat ADHD:  Many people site a study by Terry S. Friedman where he effectivity used cedarwood oil and vetiver oil in the treatment of children diagnosed as having ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder).  It’s promising but this case study was so small that I think this treatment should only be considered effective for some on a case by case basis.  I have several friends with children on the Autism Spectrum, with ADHD, or with SPD (sensory processing disorder).  Playdough can be an effective therapy tool.  I’d love to better understand how adding scents to playdough can benefit those kids in my life.

The information above is NOT intended as medical advice.  I am simply sharing information that I’ve read.  You should always seek advice from a qualified health care professional before proceeding with treatment of any health issue.

Pumpkin Pie Playdough

Lizzie Homemaker easy homemade pumpkin pie playdough made with pumpkin pie spice
We’ve been celebrating the season with this festive pumpkin pie playdough.

The kids went nuts when they saw this little playdough pumpkin pie.  I set it out for them when they got home from school.  They immediately dove into the activity using their social skills and math skills to negotiate how to divide up the pie.  They cut, counted and distributed the pieces then they smooshed it up to create new things.  Playdough is a great toy – and even when it’s presented as something specific (like a pie in this case) – it still ends up in open-ended play.

Pumpkin Pie Playdough Recipe

The warm scent of pumpkin pie spice is so cozy and relaxing. Perfect for chilly fall days.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp of pumpkin spice
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • add orange food colouring for pumpkin pie filling, leave it out for the crust colour

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for about 3-5 minutes.  The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and should no longer be sticky to the touch.  (If it’s still sticky cook a little longer until it’s not.)
  3. Remove the dough from the pot.  Allow to cool slightly and knead.
  4. Form into a pie or play with as is.

Store dough in an air-tight container.

 

Best Homemade Playdough Recipe

I make playdough all the time.  And I strongly prefer cooked playdough.  It has a nice texture and keeps well so it can be enjoyed for months.

My kids love it and I love knowing that it supports their learning and development.

Playdough is an open-ended toy that promotes creative and imaginative play as well as a child’s social and emotional development.   It helps improve hand-eye coordination and strengthens those fine motor skills used in hand-writing.

It’s more than just a fun activity that keeps them busy (but I like that about it, too).

lizzie homemaker hydrangea inspired playdough
This hydrangea inspired playdough was a big hit with the littles. To create a relaxing floral scent I added a couple drops of geranium rose essential oil to the dough.

Best Homemade Playdough Recipe

Making playdough is easier than you think and the possibilities are endless. Switch up the colours and add scents to match the seasons or complement current interests.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • food colouring

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for about 3-5 minutes.  The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and should no longer be sticky to the touch.  (If it’s still sticky cook a little longer until it’s not.)
  3. Remove the dough from the pot.  Allow to cool slightly and knead.

Store dough in an air-tight container.

I like icing gel colours.  They are vivid and come in a greater variety of colours than liquid food colouring.

Essential oils and glitter can be kneaded into the dough at the end to add scent and sparkle.

Raising Mason Bees

Lizzie Homemaker mason bee cocoons
The kids examine our mason bee cocoons before we put them out to hatch.

Our family is keeping mason bees this year and we’re all very excited.

We decided to raise mason bees for a few reasons.

First off, it’s easy.  Unlike the social honey bee, mason bees are solitary bees so they don’t live in a hive that you’d have to manage – they require almost no effort.

Secondly, it’s a great hands-on educational project for the kids.  In case you’re wondering, I’m not worried about the kids getting stung.  Mason bees are extremely gentle creatures – they have no colony or queen to protect and male bees don’t even have stingers.

Lastly, pollinators are on the decline and we need to help them flourish so that we can flourish!  Since our visit last fall to the Museum of Science in Buffalo, NY, my daughter has regularly reminded me that nature doesn’t need us, we need nature: this is our little way of giving nature a helping hand.

Keeping mason bees is simple.   It requires three things:  a home for the bees, a garden for the bees, and, of course, bees.

#1 – A Home for the Bees

You can buy mason bee homes online or you can make one.  Place the house at eye level on a south or south-east facing wall that will receive morning sunlight and not blazing afternoon heat. Make sure the house is at eye level so you can watch the action unfold!

# 2 – A Garden for the Bees

Mason bees need a garden with spring flowering plants because they are only active for about 6 weeks in the spring.  They’ll need a steady supply of nectar and pollen during this time and some mud and/or exposed dirt for their nests.  By June they’re done foraging and the larvae are sealed off to become cocoons for next spring. Pesticide use is strongly discouraged since its primary purpose is to kill insects.

# 3 – Mason Bees

If you keep a garden you may already have mason bees but if you don’t, or if you want to watch these amazing insects from the cocoon stage onwards, you can simply purchase them online.  Google where to buy mason bees.

I ordered cocoons and they came in the mail.  I’ve been storing them the fridge, patiently waiting for the good spring weather to come – and now it’s time to put them out to hatch!

Place the bees outside in or near their house when temperatures are consistently above 10 degrees Celsius/50 Fahrenheit.  You should have spring flowers blooming in the garden.  You can stagger the release of the bees and put them out in a couple batches but be sure to put out a mix of males and females.  You can identify gender by the size of cocoons as the males are smaller than the females.

Watch the video above to learn more and enjoy!  It’s really that easy.

Rainy Day Things-To-Do

Lizzie Homemaker kids finger painting with chocolate pudding on a rainy day
Finger painting with chocolate pudding is something the kids adore doing and it requires little effort.  I keep a stash of pudding cups in the pantry specifically for this rainy day activity.

This spring embrace rainy days at home by creating a fun things-to-do list for the kids.

Last week it was pouring rain and my kids couldn’t have been any happier.  We’ve found the best rainy days are slow ones where we enjoy spending time together with options but no specific plans.  We go with the flow and it’s lovely.

Our strategy is to create a list of fun activities.  We brainstorm ideas on the chalkboard in our dining room and leave the list up during those rainy weeks in the early spring, checking off activities as we go.  You could just as easily write a list on a piece of paper and post it anywhere in your house, allowing the littles to enjoy a self-guided tour through the day. They may ask for help to set up activities but will spend long stretches playing freely.

25 Things To Do on a Rainy Day:

  1. Finger painting with chocolate pudding
  2. Take a bubble bath
  3. Bake something
  4. Have a tea party or indoor picnic
  5. Play dress up
  6. Take a family portrait
  7. Paint/draw portraits of each other
  8. Go outside and splash in puddles
  9. Dig for worms
  10. Build a fort
  11. Make playdough
  12. Build a bee house
  13. Snuggle up and read books together
  14. Write a letter to someone
  15. Make popcorn
  16. Watch a movie
  17. Ice and water play
  18. Look at family photos
  19. Play freeze dance
  20. Have an indoor scavenger hunt
  21. Play hide-and-seek
  22. Make paper airplanes
  23. Make jewelry
  24. Build an obstacle course
  25. Make a fruit salad

Having options but no plans is the best way to spend a rainy day at home with kids.

Playing with Ice

Sticky Ice Cube Magic Trick

kids science experiment playing with salt and ice

My five-year-old loves science experiments and she loves magic so this activity was a huge hit with her.  It can be a little finicky – too much salt or not enough contact can cause the experiment to fail but my science-minded child appreciated that.  She had to find the sweet spot.  We started the experiment with plain little ice cubes then progressed on to using coloured ice that I made in muffin tins.

You will need:

  • two ice cubes
  • salt

Directions

  1.   Sprinkle salt on top of one ice cube.
  2.   Place second ice cube on top and wait about 15 or 20 seconds.
  3.   Lift the top ice cube and see what happens.

The ice cubes should stick together – the surfaces that touch need to make solid contact with each other so put the two flat sides together.

If you put too much salt on the ice then the cubes just continue melting. All you want is for the ice cubes to melt slightly then refreeze in order to stick together.

Creating Ice Sculptures

Ice sculpture made by Lizzie Homemaker's child
The ice sculptures made by the kids were really beautiful. My 5-year-old made this one.

This ice activity was a fun one to continue with after the Sticky Ice Cube Magic Trick. We started with plain little ice cubes then progressed to making ice sculptures using coloured ice that I made in muffin tins and a variety of empty plastic containers.

You will need:

  • a large tray or plastic bin that can contain ice and water
  • various blocks of ice (directions below)
  • salt (I provided table salt and epson salt)

Directions

  1.   Freeze water in empty yogurt containers, muffin tins, ice cube trays and random plastic containers to create ice in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Add food colouring if you wish to have coloured ice.
  2.   Show the kids how to “stick” two pieces of ice together by adding a little salt to one piece of ice and placing another on top.
  3.   Let them play, experiment and be creative.

When the kids were generous with the salt, the ice didn’t stick but it would mold and form complimentary divots allowing for the sculpture building to continue.

I also extended this activity by giving them a couple of containers with water and some turkey basters to suction up the water and squirt it on top of their sculptures.

Salt Dough Ornaments

salt dough ornaments lizzie homemaker
The salt dough ornaments are left to dry after acrylic paint and glitter glue are applied.

We make homemade salt dough ornaments every Christmas.  It’s a lovely tradition that we look forward to every year.

If you have never made them and want to, it is incredibly easy.  Simply mix 2 cups of flour with 1 cup of salt, then mix in 1 cup of warm water. Roll out dough, cut out shapes, poke a hole in the top with a straw, then bake at the lowest temperature that your oven allows until the dough is completely dry. This can take several hours depending on the temperature and the thickness of the dough. Allow the ornaments to completely cool, paint, and add glitter glue if inclined. Lastly, thread a ribbon or string through the hole and tie for hanging.  Done!

ballerina salt dough ornament lizzie homemaker
Lizzie Homemaker’s five-year-old daughter making a ballerina salt dough ornament.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup warm water

Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine flour and salt.
  2. Add water and mix together.
  3. Remove dough from bowl and place on counter, shape into ball, and knead with your hands until thoroughly combined.
  4. With rolling pin, roll out dough.
  5. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes.  Using a straw, poke a hole in the top of the ornament.  Continue to combine dough scraps into a ball and re-roll out until dough is used up.
  6. Place ornaments on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  7. Bake ornaments at 200F or the lowest temperature that your oven allows until the ornaments are completely dry.  This can take about 2-3 hours depending on the temperature of your oven and the thickness of the dough.  Allow to cool completely.
  8. Paint – we use acrylic paints.  Add glitter glue (if desired).  Allow to dry.
  9. Thread a ribbon or string through hole and tie for hanging.

The ornaments puff up at higher temperatures which is why I recommend the lowest temperature possible.  My old oven could be set to 200 F but my new one only goes as low as 250 F.  A dehydrator can also be used and gives very consistent results.

If the dough mixture is a little dry simply add a tbsp of water at a time until it comes together.  If the dough is too sticky simply sprinkle and knead in a tbsp of flour at time until the dough is no longer sticky.