Salt Dough Star Magnets

Multi Skill Salt Dough Star Magnet Craft

Keeping Squirrels interest while crafting has so far been pretty tough; hes experimental and methodical, so giving him a material with which you hope to create something can be a bit hit and miss. But I have learned that Squirrel also likes guidance and instruction. Although his responses aren’t always willing or even on my wave length, on the whole, if I give him a demonstration of a new action to try with a material, or something to observe, and be excited and descriptive about it, I’ve got his attention, and his reactions are often beautiful to witness.

 

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With this craft, I hoped Squirrel would have a whole batch of little gifts to give the family for Christmas, planned out to do in small sessions, exploring particular fine motor skills or observations of changes and textures, and we completed it all over several days.

editIMG_4121Like I said, sometimes, his responses aren’t always on your wave length, but they are brilliant.

 

Salt Dough Star Magnets List

Dough Actions.

We start the craft with making a batch of salt dough, I went for a simple process recipe; 1/2 a cup of salt, 1 cup of flour mixed together in a bowl and stirring and adding 1/2 a cup of water until we achieve a nice elastic-ish dough that holds together well.

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Squirrel tipped the flour and the salt into the bowl, and I worked it into a dough with the water, then handed it to him and let him explore and get a good sensory fix.

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Squish, pull, press, poke, scoop and sniff!

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I helped him use his hands to play at kneading, pressing, and folding, while exploring curling his hands into fists and applying pressure instead of his finger tips and palms.

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We rolled out the dough onto the floured surface of the highchair and enjoyed cutting out stars.
We lined them onto a tray and transferred them to the oven on low and baked them low and slow for about an hour, maybe just over. I’m not going to lie, I was winging it by that point. Then watched them come out.

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Once they were cool, I handed some to Squirrel, who tried to squish one in his palm, and when he couldn’t, gave a little “oh!”, which was a delightful cue to show him the difference between hard and soft, and to show reiterate the ovens part in the process of this change.

(I pressed holes into the stars in case we wanted to tie ribbons into them as well, but that later became redundant as the finish as you see now was quite lovely without bows.)

Pretty Pages

On the next stage of our craft, with our cooled and hardened stars beside us, I prepared some Decopatch varnish glue into a small container and grabbed a few brushes. I gave him one of the old books from my craft stash, this one about butterflies and moths, and let him explore it.

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I showed him how to tear at a page (trying, hopefully, to explain to do it ONLY when mama says so and gives him a book with which to do it. Ha, we’ll see…) and we had a lot of fun with a bit of Christmas music, tearing pages into little bits.

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We fetched the brushes, and I demonstrated dabbing glue onto the stars, placing a piece of our torn paper over the star and dabbing it again, with a pressing motion.

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He got it straight away, and for a good 10 minutes, we worked through our star collection, occasionally reminding Squirrel that we didn’t need to paint the Christmas tree, which was within arms reach, calming a brush related meltdown, and picking up swept paper and stars from the floor.

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Now and then, brushes were discarded. Dip dip dip!

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The process of pressing the paper down with more glue on top of the previous glue caught his fascination.

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Careful placement of the paper pieces!

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Dab dab dab.

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We left them to dry overnight on foil, wiping the backs free of glue so they didn’t stick.

 

 Sprinkling Sparkles

If I had known how much joy beads with bring this kid, I would have started involving them in our crafts way earlier. I probably chose the wrong time to invite him to work on this stage, as he was so tired that we had a few disagreements about up turning the dish of beads and getting scatty, but each time I invited him to have a calm time somewhere… well… beads, apparently, are very important. Thats me told.

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I demonstrated how to dab more glue onto the star surface over the set paper, and dip it glued side down into the dish of beads.

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I also demonstrated hold the star over the dish and gently sprinkling them onto the star.

 

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Despite the rough throwing and over excitement related to the beads, he was incredibly delicate with the stars!

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Once we managed to establish that he was indeed tired, and was done with experimenting with the beads, we went and left the craft behind and I later added a lot more of the glue on the top to make sure that the beads were generously sealed to the stars.

I left them to set over night, and the following day, while Squirrel was out with daddy delivering Christmas cards, I used my cold process glue gun to attach these small circular craft magnets to the backs of the stars.

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The day after that, we had a lovely big collection of beautiful, unique sparkling magnets.

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Squirrel and I explored the changes in solidity and ran his fingertips over the beads, identifying the paper stuck underneath them, and then I showed him how magically, they stuck to the fridge, just like his dinosaur and animal magnets!

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We are thrilled with this craft, and as I am writing this to you after Christmas, having packaged them up beautifully with several other crafts that I have blogged (Scribble Charms, Fingerprint Keepsakes and Snow Dipped Stars) and gifted them to our family and friends from Squirrel, that they went down REALLY well! The family were really pleased with them and found the fact that Squirrel did so much of the creative process himself really delighting and impressive.

Squirrel and I are pleased as punch, and seeing stars!

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This post is part of Unit 3. Winter & Christmas.

This post is linked to the 1+1+1=1 Tot School Gathering Place.

3 Activities Using Christmas Cards

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You get to December and suddenly post gets interesting. Even at 28, i get a Christmas card buzz. I know its less joyful for some, and more of a chore, but for me there is something quite lovely about sitting back with a list and my address book, popping on a festive movie and writing til my hands hurt (with my bad hands, thats not long; it’s total fluke if you receive a card from me which is remotely legible) and working my way through them.

Then receiving them is a little joy too! It seems that i have passed it onto Squirrel who hears the post and runs to get them and brings them over to us, so we can open them together, excited to spot which classic Christmas elements are on the cards, and to see which friends and family members are thinking of us in return.

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When the day came that we had a few too many for our shelf, I gathered them together in a small box i had hanging around, and punched holes in them to thread them with so i could hang them.
Naturally, it was a matter of seconds before Squirrel was tangled up and involved.
His refreshed interest in our card collection was adorable, so we sat together and inspected them and played for a long while, and that is when these activities were born! We now keep all the cards and some ribbon (with the hole punch nearby) in the little box where we can add to them as they arrive, and where Squirrel can get them whenever he wants to play with them. Sure, they’re not displayed, but i personally feel this is a perfect use for them.

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Festive Flash Cards
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Squirrel loves going through the cards and practicing his new words and visual association with me. Not necessarily flash cards, but sort of. Ish. Well, it’s how we use his other picture flashcards! We love playing “What is this?” and also “Can you find a…” with them.

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He loves pointing out anything he recognises on the cards, then finding more robins/reindeer/snowmen/Santas in the card collection.

Fine Motor Threading

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Originally i was threading them onto some cute red velvet ribbon to drape across the wall, and Squirrel found me while i was threading them on, and immediately wanted in on the fun!

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Pulling them through and following the length around and collecting his beautiful cards so that they flap when he moves the ribbon… Good gracious, such fun!

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Size Sorting & Transferring

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Well, a box is a magical thing. Ask any toddler or cat. Squirrel loves transferring in containers and recently showed us recognition of ‘big’ and ‘little’ and also ‘TOO big’ and ‘TOO little’, and this lead on fantastically.

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This is, once again, a Leo-discovered game. He started filing them away, apparently sorting them somehow into some piles, before transferring them to the box. He discovered that some were just simply a bit too big, and with a little guidance, we experimented standing them up instead, and then of course, we had a little challenge on our hands, as once one was standing, he couldn’t get any little ones in!

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He soon learned which ones were too big by recognition, using his words ‘beeeek!’ when ever he identified one that had previously had to be saved til the end to stand up. Then would resume counting the other smaller ones in. “Un”, “Oo”, “Theee”, “Dooor”, etc, repeating by tipping them out again once finished for another go.

There we have it! Let no Christmas card be wasted if your mantle becomes over crowded when they can become a new world of discovery for your tot!

This post is part of Unit 3. Winter & Christmas.

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Linked to and featured on 1+1+1=1 with the Tot School Gathering Place Link Up.