Making Memories

Salt dough ornaments are an easy and fun way to get your toddler involved in holiday festivities.  They make great keepsakes, as well as touching gifts that any grandparent is sure to cherish.  And best of all, with a little planning and patience, your toddler can do most of the work, which allows him to experience concentration, delayed gratification, and a feeling of accomplishment!

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The most important thing to remember when crafting with toddlers is that the process is more important than the outcome.  Breathe through the messes, laugh when things don’t go according to plan, and if you feel like you have to take control, ask for a turn.

The recipe we used is very simple:FullSizeRender 2

1 cup flour

1/2 cup table salt

1/2 cup water

Note: We did this activity in four parts over four days – 1) making the ornaments; 2) painting; 3) decorating; 4) inserting the ribbon

Before you start, pre-heat oven to 250F.

1. Prepare all your ingredients so your child doesn’t spill the bag of flour on the floor while you’re getting the water.

2. Help your child measure out the flour and salt into a bowl.

FullSizeRender 33. Let your child stir to his heart’s delight.

4. Let your child pour the water into the flour/salt mixture and stir.

5. Sprinkle some flour on your working surface and transfer the dough.  If it’s very sticky, sprinkle a tablespoon of flour at a time and work it into the dough until you can roll it out without it sticking.

6. Help your child make a ball and show him how to press it down with his hands.  Show him how to roll out the dough with the rolling pin until it is about 1/2″ thick.

7. Use cookie cutters to cut out the shapes and help your child transfer them to a cookie sheet with a spatula or your hands. (This is hard, you’ll probably have to help a lot if you want any of the ornaments to look like anything more than blobs of dough.)FullSizeRender 4

8. Use one end of a straw to poke one hole in each ornament (to string ribbon through).  Or, if you’re my son, poke two holes and call them “eyes”.

9. Bake at 250F for 2-3 hours, then allow to cool for at least a couple of hours or overnight.

10. Put a small amount of acrylic paint (found at any craft store) in a dish and show your child how to paint the front side of each ornament.  I used a piece of sponge because it doesn’t pick up too much paint, but you can also use a small paint brush.  Allow to dry for a few hours or overnight.

FullSizeRender 511. Put glossy Mod Podge on one dish and glitter on another dish.  Show your child how to apply the Mod Podge to an ornament with a brush, followed by a sprinkling of glitter with his fingers.  Allow to dry a few hours.

12. Apply a coat of Mod Podge to the glitter side of the ornaments to seal the glitter in.  Allow to dry.  Write your child’s name and the year on the back of each ornament with a Sharpie, then apply a coat of Mod Podge to the back of each ornament.  Allow to dry.

13. Cut a piece of ribbon about 6″ long and show your child how to insert it in the hole (very thin wired ribbon works best).  Optionally, you can string a small jingle bell for a festive look (and to hide the hole).  Make a knot or bow.

Celebrate because you now have lovely ornaments and beautiful memories!  Happy crafting!


Suggested Color Gradation for the Gobbi

Hi crafty reader!  If you’re planning on making a Gobbi mobile, I have some info that might come in handy (don’t hate me if you already started, because I just got this from a helpful friend who’s taking the A to I course!  You can always make another one; babies LOVE these mobiles!).  Here are the suggested DMC embroidery floss shades for each of the potential Gobbi colors:

Yellow: 745 – 744 – 743 – 972 – 742

Green: 703 – 702 – 701 – 700 – 699

Teal: 3811 – 3766 – 3810 – 3809 – 3808

Blue: 3752 – 827 – 813 – ??? – 3760 (note: there’s missing shade, I’ll update this if/when she figures out what it should be)

Pink: 3608 – 3607 – 718 – 917 – 915

Purple: 211 – 209 – 553 – 552 – 550

Cranberry: 816 – 3831 – 3832 – 3833 – 761

Rust: 349 – 350 – 351 – 352 – 353

Here’s the DMC color chart so you can see what these shades look like before you go shopping.  Ooooooh, makes me want to run to my nearest craft store and stock up on thread!!


Gobbi Tutorial, Part I

Disclaimer: I am NOT what you would call “incredibly crafty” and I’m also pretty bad at writing tutorials (How I successfully wrote 12 Montessori albums, I’ll never know).  I also haven’t taken the Assistants to Infancy training, so if there’s a different/better way to do this, please leave your comments below for the benefit of all readers.  

A few months ago I wrote about the Gobbi mobile, which is a favorite among babies starting around 8 weeks of age.  Several readers have asked me for a tutorial, so here goes…

Materials (can be purchased at Michael’s, JoAnn’s, or other craft stores):

  • Embroidery floss (aka, thread) in five ascending shades of one color (you will need 2-3 skeins of each shade).  Take a look at this list of suggested shades!
  • Five styrofoam balls, about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter
  • One embroidery needle (MUST be longer than the diameter of the balls)
  • One dowel (about 12 inches long)
  • Scissors
  • The patience of a Buddhist monk
Only one shade of floss is shown here, but you need FIVE shades!!

Instructions: (Click on pictures to enlarge)

Use the dowel to carefully bore a hole in each of the spheres.  Try to get the hole to run straight through the center of the sphere.  You can wiggle the dowel a bit as it’s going in, or scrape the sides of the hole once it’s made, so that the diameter of the hole is slightly larger than the diameter of the dowel (this will be helpful when threading the embroidery floss over and over again through the hole).

Prepare a long piece of floss (about 48″) and thread your needle.  (Note: I’ve seen some people thread the entire skein of floss at one time, but I have found that it gets tangled up and frayed.)

Pass your needle with the floss through the hole in one sphere, until most of it has passed through and you only have a small “tail” of floss sticking out.  Smooth that “tail” onto the sphere (the styrofoam will help to grip the thread) and bring the needle around to the hole where you started.

Insert the needle again, pass the thread through, and make sure that you “step” on the tail with the thread that is now wrapped from one end of the sphere to the other.

Bring the needle back around, and repeat, threading it into the hole and pulling the thread through.  Try to keep the resulting strands of thread as close together as possible, so they begin to cover up the white of the sphere.

When you’ve used up all the thread on the needle, leave a little tail and smooth it down onto the sphere.Thread your needle with more floss, insert in the hole, and repeat the process from step #3.  Eventually, your entire sphere will be covered in floss and no styrofoam will show through.

When you are done, pass the needle through the hole one last time and leave a length of floss about 12-16 inches long (this will be used for hanging the spheres).

Repeat the entire process with the next ball, using the next shade of embroidery floss.

Click here for Part II, where we discuss hanging the spheres.  Happy crafting!!