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Squidgy, icy, puffy projects to keep little fingers busy


Squidgy, icy, puffy projects to keep little fingers busy

Running out of things to do with the kids? Try these fun, make-it-yourself crafts

Sanet Oberholzer
Keeping them occupied is a challenge.
SNAP SNAP Keeping them occupied is a challenge.
Image: Supplied

If you’re a parent you’ve had to keep the kids entertained since well before lockdown started. And now, with stricter rules keeping the busy bodies trapped inside, you might be more desperate for ideas to keep them entertained than before.

If they’re becoming bored with the toys and gadgets they have, and you feel bad for all the screen time you’re allowing, why not try a few make-it-yourself recipes for fun crafts. You should have the ingredients in the house.

Play dough

Whip up some play dough to keep them busy — it’s great for creative play and exercising fine motor skills.

Toptots in Ballito specialises in early childhood development. As experts in the field of play, we asked them for their favourite, no-fuss play dough recipe.

Play dough is taste safe, making it perfect for all ages.
play it safe Play dough is taste safe, making it perfect for all ages.
Image: Unsplash

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 4 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 cup salt
  • Food colouring
  • Essence
  • 1½ cups boiling water


Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Put oil, food colouring and essence into a jug, add 1 cup of boiling water. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Add the other ½ cup of boiling water and stir well to make a soft, pliable dough. The dough needs to be kneaded well before use, while it is still warm. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.

Robyn Hyson, owner of Toptots, says: “We love this recipe because it is easy to do. No cooking involved and very little to clean up after. It makes a lovely soft, pliable dough, awesome for those little fingers. As there are no nasties in it, it is completely taste safe for little ones.”

Make a few batches of different colours to get their creative juices flowing. Pose different challenges, such as making various animals or fruits. If you allow the winner of each round to choose a snack from the cupboard, they are likely to dedicate a good amount of time and energy to each challenge.

Learn how to make sea creatures with play dough.

Ice paints

Do you have a little Picasso on your hands, but you’re out of paint? Or are you looking for something new that will interest your child? You can make ice paints using water and food colouring.

You’ll need:

  • Ice cube tray
  • Water
  • Food colouring (as many different colours as you want)
  • Ice cream sticks
  • Paper

Young children love to explore different ways of painting and this method really ticks that box.


Place water to an ice cube tray, add a drop of food colouring to each cube and mix. Place in the fridge until the water starts to freeze slightly then insert a stick into each cube. Return to the fridge and freeze until solid.

The frozen cubes work well to colour pages and will keep the kids entertained — at least for long enough to give you a breather. And if they decide to finish them off by sucking them, it won’t harm them.

Puffy paint

Puffy paint is fun. Not quite liquid paint that you need a brush for, you can pipe it and give it to the kids.

You’ll need:

  • Glue
  • Shaving cream
  • Food colouring
  • Plastic bag
  • Scissors
  • Paper


Mix together equal parts glue and shaving cream, and add a few drops of food colouring. Mix well and add the mixture to a plastic bag. Tie the top and cut a small corner off the end through which the paint can be piped.

Puffy paint is sure to be a hit with the kids.

What makes this paint such fun is that it really does look puffy when you pipe it onto paper — it gives a 3D look to the pictures. Because of the glue and shaving cream in the paint, this isn’t food safe, so best reserve this for the kids who aren’t going to try to eat it.


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