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Salt Dough Halloween Ornaments

Today's craft turned into an all-day affair. I had on hand the ingredients to make salt dough, some stamps I had purchased from the $3 section at Target, some Halloween colored paint, a glue gun, card stock, and a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter. We began the morning by getting our hands dirty making salt dough. Here's the recipe:

1 cup flour

1 cup salt

1/2 cup warm water

Easy peasy. I found that I needed to adjust and add more water when it wasn't sticking enough, and more flour when it got too sticky. The littles had a good time with this part of the process.

Next we rolled out the dough about a quarter inch thick and used our pumpkin cookie cutter to cut our shapes. I also free handed some rectangles because we had some rectangular stamps that lent themselves to it. The kids chose stamps and stamped the dough. I took a plastic straw to cut a hole for where the string was eventually going to go. They all thought it was a hoot every time I had to clear the straw and blow the small chunk of salt dough out of the end. Lots of giggles.

The recipe said to turn the oven to 100 degrees, but mine only goes down to 170, so I put my oven at that temp and baked the ornaments for about 3 hours. 170 seemed to work just fine.

We had a little extra salt dough, and it occurred to me that we didn't really have anywhere to hang our Halloween ornaments, so on a whim I decided we needed to make some autumn trees on which to hang our creations. I had some old toilet paper rolls laying around (yes I squirrel them away for occasions like this). I pulled out the trusty glue gun and cut circles for the bottom and squares just big enough to cover the sides for our "trunk". Then to give the tree some weight, I shoved the remaining salt dough down to the bottom of the trunk as a holding agent for the branches that would soon be lodged there.

We cleaned up the messy part of the craft, and headed outside to collect some branches for our trees. It took some maneuvering to make the trees stand up without falling over, and I had to be careful not to punch out the bottoms of the trees with the sticks. It occurred to me that these trees probably weren't going to be sturdy enough to support our ornaments, but it got the kids outside using natural materials, so it didn't really matter. They were having a good time.

After lunch and naps, I made a paint station and everybody got to paint their hardened and dried ornaments. We set them in the sun to dry, and just before pickup we tied the strings through them to finish them off. I ran out of cute ribbon, so I went to my yarn bin and we made necklaces, which were a bigger hit than the ornaments anyway. E refuses to take hers off and has been holding it gingerly in her hands this whole night. She was so proud to show her creation to Papa.

Anyway, I loved that this project threaded through our day. It kept the kids entertained and me busy (lots of prep and cleanup!). I also like that it organically evolved from just a simple ornament, to then a tree, to then a wearable piece of art. I recommend this for childcare providers or parents just looking to engage with their kid for the day. Happy crafting!

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