Image Source: Laurel Niedospial
Trying to keep toddlers entertained around the holidays is no easy task. Although they have a passion for trying new things, keeping their attention focused for a long time often doesn't work out. Because of this, an easy holiday DIY is definitely the way to go with attention-challenged toddlers.
Thankfully, I remembered back to when I was a preschooler and my mom had me make these basic salt-dough ornaments. One of the great things about them, besides being pretty entertaining, is that kids can create the whole thing from start to finish. The recipe is pretty hard to screw up. With such limited ingredients, it doesn't mind a heavy hand. Since toddlers aren't known for being delicate, it's the perfect recipe to get them excited about cooking.
Before a couple of my 2-year-old's friends came over, I prepped the kitchen. I put a piece of parchment paper over enough cookie sheets so that each kid could have their own "work station." In three bowls, I placed flour, salt, and water. With slightly older kids, you could have them do the measuring themselves, but since this was my son's first time doing real cooking, I wanted to simplify it for him by having everything ready.
The three toddlers quickly got to work. They each took a turn adding one of the three ingredients into a clean bowl and then, as a team, worked to mix the dough. Although they used wooden spoons, kids can also mix with their hands.
Once the dough was well-mixed, I divided it among them onto well-floured parchment sheets. Each child was then given a can of soup to use as a rolling pin, and once the dough was thin enough, it was time for the cookie cutters, which was hands-down their favorite part. (If you don't want to use cookie cutters, pressing their adorable little handprints into the dough also makes for an easy ornament.)
Once the ornaments are baked (at 275ºF for about an hour and a half to two hours) and cooled, decorating them can be another activity to do later on.
This DIY activity really does it all. Children engage in tactile play and they learn about measurements and volume, shapes, and art. Since toddlers like to help in the kitchen, this is also a great activity to get them started on their culinary journey.
See the full recipe and clear step-by-step instructions below.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup salt
- 1 cup warm water
- Preheat oven to 275ºF.
- In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, and water. Either by hand or with a spoon, mix until combined.
- On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough until desired thickness, roughly a quarter to a half an inch.
- Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Reroll the dough as needed until it is all gone.
- Using a straw, make a hole at the top of each ornament so it can be hung on a tree.
- Cook at 275ºF for 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours. Dough should be hard and dry.
- Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
- If you want to paint right away, place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
- Decorate as desired once completely cooled.
- Side Dishes
- 20 ornaments, depending on the sizes of the cookie cutters
- Cook Time
- 2 hours