Clubhouse Problem Solving: Lemon Dough

We must make a batch of play dough at the Clubhouse at least once a week. We have tried so many different recipes, the Clubhouse Kids do believe they invented play dough. On this day we decided it was time for a fresh batch, and what better scent for Summer than lemonade?

The recipe I found only required 3 ingredients; corn starch, baking soda, and water. I had never used this recipe before, and I found it here. I decided to add some powdered lemonade mix, and a few squirts of lemon juice.

First, we brought 1 1/4 cup of water to a boil, mixing in the powdered lemonade and the lemon juice. The smell of lemons was strong, just the way we wanted it. 

Then we stirred in a mixture of 1 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of corn starch.

As soon as the baking soda/corn starch combo hit the lemon-y water it fizzed up all the way to the top of the pot I was making this concoction in. Good thing I chose a big pot, and silly me for not anticipating ahead of time that the lemon juice (acid) would create a chemical reaction when combined with the baking soda (base). The Clubhouse Kids loved it though, and it made for a great impromptu Science experiment.

"We made lemonade explode."  :D

The recipe then says to stir and cook over medium heat until your dough is the consistency of mashed potatoes. We did, and it really was like mashed potatoes.

Now, set aside to cool.

We did just that. It cooled for awhile. We played a soccer game, read a few books, and even went for a nature walk. Then the Clubhouse Kids wanted to dive right in to their new play dough.

Can you see the problem? The consistency of this "play dough" was definitely still that of mashed potatoes. The Clubhouse Kids found this highly amusing, 

"We made lemon mashed potatoes!"

"Can we eat this?"

As they spread this now cooled, yet still creamy, concoction all over the table, I knew this would be a good time to practice some problem solving. So I asked, how do you think we can fix this so that it feels like play dough and not mashed potatoes?

"We need to add flour."

Funny, that's what I was thinking. These awesome kiddos never cease to amaze me. We have followed so many different play dough recipes, and this is the first time we didn't use flour. They noticed.

Another Clubhouse Kid suggested, "lotsa salt". Another common play dough ingredient we hadn't used this time.

We decided to try the flour first and started sprinkling it on the table, on the "dough", and all over the mess we had made. Their little hands got busy mixing the flour in and they immediately felt the consistency of the play dough changing.

"We're making it into play dough!"

"It's not mashed potatoes anymore."

"It still smells like lemons!"

I wish I could tell you how much flour we used to make the fix, but I have no idea. The Clubhouse Kids had free reign over the flour at that point as they kept reaching into the flour jar and sprinkling everywhere. They did this until they finally kneaded up a perfect batch. 

Sure I could have called this a flop when I realized we made mashed potatoes, or I could have just let them enjoy the creamy concoction until we tossed it. Instead, using it as a learning experience I found they were incredibly proud of themselves for having "solved the play dough problem". Plus, we now have what I must admit is the absolute softest batch of play dough we have ever made. Almost a week later, and when we take it out to play it is still so incredibly pliable. Smells great too, just like lemonade.

Speaking of the recipe, reviewing it after the fact I realized something. The recipe didn't call for 1 cup of baking soda, but rather 1 lb of baking soda! Oops. Don't tell the Clubhouse Kids it was all my fault we started with mashed potatoes ;)

I will try it again with the right amount of ingredients and see if we can leave out the flour fix. We also received a great tip on our Facebook page about using Wilton Icing Colors for very vivid colors. I will definitely be ordering some of that to see what kind of bright colors we can make on our next play dough adventure.

This time we were all content though. We solved a a problem and made great play dough. All in all, 'twas a success. Tell me, what has been your biggest play dough problem? 

Really, I was reading fast, how was I to notice the recipe said 1 lb instead of 1 c? ;)

Ms. Liz

For more Clubhouse play dough adventures check out when we made crayon dough and dirt dough!

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