Salt Dough Ornaments

Do you remember making salt dough ornaments when you were a kid? I have fond memories of making these ornaments in grade school during the holidays. This week, Say-n-Play Columbus got back together with Annette Ferraro Photography to carry on this holiday tradition by making salt dough ornaments with our little ones.

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Salt Dough Recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup or warm water
  1. Mix the flour and salt together.
  2. Add warm water.
  3. Begin kneading the ingredients together until you reach the desired consistency. The smoother, the better.
  4. Roll the dough out or press the dough flat with your hands and begin making your ornaments.                           *We used cookie cutters to shape the ornaments and then made hand/foot prints of our little ones in the center of the ornaments.
  5. Use a straw to make a hole at the top of the ornaments for the ribbon to hang them.
  6. Let the ornaments air-dry or place them in an oven heated to 100 degrees for 30 minutes.
  7. When the ornaments are dry, paint them to decorate as you wish!
  8. After the decorations have dried, tie ribbons through the holes in ornaments so they are ready to hang on the Christmas tree.

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I love doing this craft with babies to capture their teeny tiny handprints and footprints on ornaments as a keepsakes. I also love doing this craft with babies because it exposes them to different textures. When kneading the dough, take your baby’s hands and help him/her manipulate the soft dough. This experience elicited many smiles and happy coos from my baby. After you have flattened out the dough and cut out the ornaments’ shapes, help your baby apply pressure on the ornaments with his/her hands and feet. Again, my kiddo loved the new experience of pressing her feet in the soft dough. Throughout this activity, talk your child through the process. Describe what you are doing while you are making the dough, cutting out the ornaments, and making the hand and foot prints. I had a great “conversation” of ooh’s and aah’s with my little girl as we made our Christmas tree’s new additions.

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Activities involving recipes are always a great way to target a variety of speech and language concepts in older children (age 3+), as well. Here are some tips for encouraging language development in older kids.

Vocabulary: Start the activity by going over the ingredients needed for the recipe. Define ingredients as the items needed to make the dough, and then list each of them. While you are putting the recipe together, use adjectives (descriptive words) to describe what you are making. You can describe how the dough feels (wet/sticky) and the shape and size of the ornament (circle/square, thick/thin).

Sequencing: After you have listed and collected the ingredients, read through the steps of the recipe together. Have your child identify the first and last step of the recipe. You can incorporate concepts of before/after/next by asking “What do we do after we mix the flour and salt together?” You can also have your little one dictate the steps of the recipe as you are making the salt dough.

Once you have the finished product, you have a wonderful gift for the family and perfect decoration for any Christmas tree.

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Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt

December is finally here, which means Christmas lights are everywhere. Why not spend some time this holiday season having fun with your little one on a Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt? To take part in the holiday fun, simply print out the list shown below and load up your bundled kiddos in the car. As you drive around admiring the Christmas lights in your local neighborhoods, help your child find each item on the scavenger hunt list.

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PDF Version Here

Before you set off for your evening journey, prepare for the scavenger hunt ahead of time by going over the items on the list. Talk with your child about the location of the lights in the scavenger hunt and where they should be looking. Some items on the list are located in windows or on doors, the giant ornaments will be hanging on trees, and the inflatables will be in the yard. Talk about the different types of lights you will be searching for and what these types of lights will look like. Some lights will be blinking, some lights will look like icicles, some lights will have multiple colors and some lights will be only one color.

As you complete your scavenger hunt, help your child express what items he/she sees and where he/she sees those items. This activity will help develop your child’s expressive and spacial language skills using words that describe location (e.g. on, in, over, under) as well as characteristics (e.g. big, small, blinking, hanging).

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As well as searching for items in your local neighborhoods, there are many beautiful public light displays in Columbus that would work perfectly for the scavenger hunt (Alum Creek Fantasy of Lights/Scioto Mile/Columbus Commons). For an interactive map of holiday light displays in Columbus, check out columbuslights.com.

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In addition to checking off items on the list, I always like to take pictures of the found items so we can review our hunt with a round of hot cocoa when we get home. I hope this Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt becomes a fun holiday tradition for you and yours, as well. Happy Holidays!