School's out, let's make some play dough!

Amanda Riley
Special to The Black Mountain News

At our house, the start of summer means many things. It means saying yes to ice cream for dinner and keeping a change of clothes in the car for spontaneous visits to the splash fountain. It means Saturday mornings at the tailgate market, where we linger for hours with friends. It means lots of Band Aids and library trips, eating out of our backyard quite a bit, and mornings that are slower and lazier than usual.

With school officially ending in Buncombe County this week, it seems fitting to share a couple easy recipes for good old-fashioned summertime fun. Homemade play dough and bubble solution are quick and simple delights that you can make with your children.

The very act of making them together will almost certainly be enjoyable in and of itself, and the end results will provide hours of fun. You can even make extras with your kids and decorate containers for them, then keep them on hand to give as gifts when the need arises.

Aside from the fact that it can seem convenient to purchase Play-Doh already made (and there's something about the smell of that yellow-packaged stuff that takes me back to my own childhood), there's really no need to buy it premade. It is incredibly easy to make.

You can customize it with colors and essential oils. You can even add glitter (I'm one of those parents who gets a little twitchy just thinking about projects that involve glitter, but I figure summer is a good time to loosen up and live a little). Our test batch ended up light purplish-blue, lavender scented - and glittery.

Bubble solution couldn't be easier to make, and if yours tends to get spilled as often as ours does, it's good to have extra on hand - and to know how to whip up more in a matter of minutes.

Amanda Riley lives in Black Mountain with her husband, young daughter, cat and small flock of chickens. Read more about her suburban homesteading at

Stay and play play dough

2 cups flour (plus more - up to 1/2 cup - for kneading)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup salt

2 tablespoons cream of tartar

1 1/2cups boiling water

5 drops glycerin (for a bit of shine, optional)

Food coloring (We used 8 drops blue, 2 green and 3 red, optional)

Glitter (definitely optional)

In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and cream of tartar. Add oil and mix until incorporated. Add food coloring, if using, to boiling water, then pour water into dry ingredients, stirring constantly until you have a sticky, combined dough. Add glycerin, if using, and let cool. Turn cooled dough onto a clean work surface and knead for several minutes, until no longer sticky (add more flour if needed). Add glitter, if using. Store in a lidded container between use. Don't eat.

The ingredients for making play dough may be lying around in your kitchen already.

Scrubbly, bubbly bubble solution

Simply mix together 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons glycerin and 4 tablespoons dish soap (a lot of people swear by Dawn, I've used different kinds with similar results). I like to make up several batches at once and store in separate (tightly sealed!) containers. This way when there is the inevitable spill, it can be followed with more bubbles and less tears. Bubble wands of all sorts are widely available, or you can get creative and make your own at home.