Creative Clay, Dough, and Modeling Experiences

Creative Clay

From the Editor: Recently, I received a copy of the wonderful book Mudworks, and became so inspired! MaryAnn F. Kohl kindly agreed to share 4 recipes from it.

Mudworks is a book of open-ended clay, dough, and other modeling art experiences. There is no right or wrong way for projects to turn out. Exploration and experimentation in sculpture, design, and play is encouraged. Adult models to copy are not necessary. Free-form designs, as opposed to perfect “cookie cutter” products, are the goal of the projects in Mudworks.

Explore. Experiment. Create. Enjoy watching the creative sparkle of each child. Remember, it's the process and not the product that kids value most.

GOOP (ages 3 and up)

Goop is a classic sensory experience, as old a recipe as there is, but one not to be missed. If someone hasn't given this to their kids to explore, now is the time! Growing up just isn't complete until a child has explored the strange and delightful attributes of Goop!

½ cup cornstarch
½ cup water
Food coloring or tempra

Cookie sheets or trays
Large tub

1. Mix cornstarch with water and optional color
2. Pour mix onto a tray, or make in a large tub
3. Experience and enjoy this unique mixture’s properties
4. Keep reusing Goop

1. Try adding more cornstarch and observe, experiment
2. Try adding more water and observe, experiment
3. Make Goop in a large water table as a group experience

BAKERS CLAY (ages 2 and up)

Baker’s Clay is the best dough for making letters, ornaments, little flat animals and characters, and other unique creations. It is very pliable and easy to work with. When baked to a light-golden hardness, it's ready to paint. Baker’s Clay objects can last a lifetime if kept in a dry environment.

4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1½ cup water
Bowl, spoon
Plastic bag

1. Mix salt in warm water until partially dissolved, then add to flour, OR mix flour and salt, then add water.
2. Mix with a spoon until the particles stick together, then
3. Form a ball with your hands and kneed 5 to 10 minutes
4. Explore the dough freely.

1. If a rolled coil splits, dough needs more kneading until coil holds together
2. If dough does not knead properly, add a few drops of water at a time and work until dough is satiny smooth
3. If dough is too moist, add flour (dough will be stiff)
4. Keep ball of dough in a plastic bag or covered bowl and take out only what you need (use within 24 hours)

1. Bake at 300° on cookie sheet for about 1 hour
2. Let cool and paint, if desired
3. Spray with clear varnish or fixative (finished pieces may be glued together)
4. Can be baked at 250° 1 to 3 hours
5. Half, double, or triple this recipe. Hint: measure carefully!
6. Glaze with egg white, evaporated milk, or mayonnaise before baking
7. Color before shaping by mixing color with water

 PLAY CLAY (ages 3 and up)

Play Clay is a pure white dough that hardens quickly, which is nice for kids because they can see results quickly. It is very easy to make. Objects made with this recipe paint well and last forever.

1 cup baking soda
½ cup cornstarch
2/3 cup warm water
Food coloring or poster paints
Shellac or clear nail polish

1. Mix baking soda and cornstarch in saucepan
2. Add water and stir until smooth
3. Over medium heat, boil and stir until like mashed potatoes
4. Pour onto board to cool
5. Knead when cool
6. For color, knead coloring into clay until blended or paint when finished
7. When dry, brush with shellac or nail polish

Makes 1 ½ cups, doubles well
Hardens quickly
Stores in airtight container for several weeks

PRETZEL DOUGH (ages 4 and up)

Pretzel Dough is one of the best yeast dough recipes, edible of course! Not only can kids make pretzel shapes, they can make letters and other wild and wonderful creative shapes as well.

1 pkg. yeast
1 ½ cups warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups flour
1 egg, beaten
Salt (optional)
Large bowl
Cookie sheet

1. Measure warm water into large bowl
2. Sprinkle on yeast and stir until soft
3. Add salt, sugar, flour
4. Mix and knead dough with hands
5. Roll and twist into any desired shapes
6. Place on greased cookie sheet
7. Brush with beaten egg
8. Sprinkle with salt (optional)
9. Bake 12 to 15 minutes at 350º

Dependable aprons for children's art projects

Thank you for your article referencing "Mudworks" by MaryAnn Kohl. I hope everyone who reads the article will try at least one of these wonderful fun recipes from "Mudworks". I invite your readers to see more recipes on my website and to visit my blog that has new ideas and fun each week: Thank you Connect for helping to spread inspiration and creativity to kids and their adults! ~ MaryAnn

MaryAnn Kohl


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About the Author

MaryAnn F. Kohl

is the award-winning author of numerous books on creative arts for children. She is an internationally recognized educational and publishing consultant and keynote speaker at educational conferences. MaryAnn is a regular contributing author to Parenting and Family Fun magazines as well as numerous educational journals. Prior to founding Bright Ring Publishing, Inc. in 1985, MaryAnn was an elementary education teacher specializing in creativity, writing, and art. MaryAnn and her family live in Bellingham, Washington.

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