Beach Dough: Homemade No-Cook Play Dough Recipe

I have a super easy way to make homemade play dough without cooking it on the stove. I decided to make play dough that looked like sand, to go along with a beachy theme. My kids are somewhat obsessed with collecting sea shells and bringing them home, thus we have a huge collection.

Here’s one way to play with sea shells. This was a great boredom buster as well as fine motor skills for my preschooler. And my big kids started their morning with a calm, soothing sensory activity rather than, you know, the usual chaos of arguing over who gets the last bit of the favorite cereal.

no cook play dough recipe for beach dough

Our beach dough looks like sand, but has the soft and smooth texture of homemade play dough.

Homemade No-Cook Play Dough Recipe for Beach Dough

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tbsps. oil (I used grape seed, because it’s what I had.)
  • 2 tbsps. cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • yellow and brown paint (I used washable tempera paint.)

The whole wheat flour really gives the dough a sandy look, however it smells rather, well, wheaty, so to cover this, you can add  1 tbsp. of your favorite extract (peppermint, vanilla, lemon, orange, almond) or a few drops of essential oil (lavender is my favorite).

Here’s the fabulous no-cook part:  I threw all the ingredients into my stand mixer, in no particular order, except for the paint.  I started the mixer and then added a squirt of yellow paint, a bit of brown and kept doing this until it looked like the color of sand.

I added a bit more extract at the end to make it smell really good.

Then I set it out for the kids to find in the morning, They each got a plastic container filled with Beach Dough and their containers of shells.
no-cook play dough

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My Favorite Gluten Free Muffins

gluten free, grain free, sugar free strawberry breakfast muffins

These are Strawberry Breakfast Muffins. They are gluten free, grain free and sugar free. And they are delicious.

Elana over at Elana’s Pantry has this amazing cinnamon bun muffin recipe. I’ve been making and eating these muffins as my go-to breakfast for a year and a half, ever since I went mostly gluten and grain free, and often sugar free. I triple the recipe and freeze them. They heat up quite nicely in the microwave for 30 seconds. In fact, every recipe I’ve tried from Elana has been amazing and delicious, so  go and check out her blog, her books, and her awesome food.

freshly picked strawberries

And, yes, I know this is a homeschooling blog and this post has only a little to do with homeschooling, but when we are on a learning break, I post about things like berries, and laundry, and guns. Just so you know.

So the boys and I went strawberry picking and I couldn’t wait to get home and try a few new things with our beautiful, fresh berries.

freshly picked berries ready for jam

First, I made my first ever freezer jam, which also happens to be sugar free.  It’s just strawberries and agave syrup. That’s it.  You can find the directions at Simply Gluten Free.

The jam must be frozen or used within a week. Next, I had a great idea of how to put some of this wonderful jam to use.  Elana’s muffins! Here’s what we did:

  • Make Elana’s basic muffin recipe, omitting the cinnamon topping.
  • Add 1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries to the batter, folding them in gently.
  • Add a dollop of the jam to the top of the muffins just before baking.
    dollop of jam on muffins
  • Bake the muffins for 16 to 20 minutes. This is longer than the original recipe because of the moisture from the berries.
  • Serve with a pat of butter and a drizzle of honey, if you are so inclined.

picking strawberries

My kids love these muffins and do not, as a rule, eat gluten/grain/sugar free. It’s so awesome when I make something that I can eat and they love it, too.

My little assistant, Love Bug, had fun helping me in the kitchen, measuring and mixing.  And that, my friends, is how it is related to homeschooling.

strawberry muffins

Summer Nights: Mason Jar Lights

Mason Jar Lights to light up the night
We loved, loved, loved making these mason jar lights. Perfect for a camping craft or any summer night. Hop on over to Kiwi Crate for the step-by-step instructions.

mason jar lights for summer nights

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Lego BrickFair Is Worth the Wait

We had a great time at the Lego BrickFair today in Virginia. There was some chatter on Twitter about the long lines to get in, which I hope will translate into a larger venue next year for this spectacular show.  If you go tomorrow, or in the coming years, get there on the early or late side if you want to avoid the lines, but do go.  It was well worth it.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Here are some of our favorites.

The interactive building area was a big hit with kids. And some grown-ups, too. They could build and race their wheeled creations on the tracks or use the many tables provided to make things with what appeared to be thousands of bricks.

BrickFair runs through Sunday, August 5th, 2012, at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia. It is a yearly event in this area. Go to for more information.

I received four free tickets from BrickFair but was not required to write about it.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Summer Love Books Exchange: Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping

Pie tin campfire to go with the book, Amelia Bedlelia goes camping, by Peggy Parish.

This year, our summer reading has included the Summer Love Books Exchange, which paired us up with another blogging mom and her kids.  They sent us a book and some activities to go along with it, and we sent them a book and activities in return.  Cool, huh?  It’s coordinated by the fine folks at The Educator’s Spin On It.

It was so much fun to get a box in the mail with a new book and some fun craft supplies. Even greater, was that it was from Jill at Enchanted Homeschooling Mom. Have you seen her blog? Take a look at her extensive list of free printables to use in your homeschooling adventures.

We were thrilled to find that Jill had chosen a book with an outdoor theme especially for us.  And we love the silly, mixed-up, always confused Amelia Bedelia character.  In Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping, of course Amelia misunderstands everything Mr. and Mrs. Rogers  tell her, from pitching the tent into the bushes to catching a fish by jumping in the water and grabbing it.

Here are some of the activities Jill created for us to go along with the book.

We built a campfire and made some roasted marshmallows on sticks. This was really a hit with the Creek Kids.  They have continued to play many elaborate camping games with this little campfire set-up.  Here’s how we did it, per Jill’s instructions:

We cut a brown paper bag into strips, then crumbled them up to make the logs for the fire. We cut out a flame shape from a piece of red construction paper, leaving a base to tape it into the pie tin that served as our fire ring.  A smaller flame cut out of orange construction paper attached to the red.

My daughter making the campfire project.

The sticks for roasting the marshmallows were real. We folded a white piece of paper in half longways, then in half again and rolled it around a stick.  Ta-da! Marshmallows ready for roasting.

Making the marshmallows: Fold paper, roll it around a stick.

Marshmallows are ready to roast!

Jill also made each of my kids a little book to write their own story of a camping adventure with Amelia Bedelia. We all loved this creative exercise. The kids colored the tents at the top of the paper, then dictated their story to me. I wrote it into the little books, they added some finishing touches and then we all read the stories together.

My daughter, writing her own camping story, Amelia Bedelia style.

Here’s an exerpt from the one my daughter wrote:

We roasted marshmallows.  Amelia Bedelia said, “Ok, I will roast marshmallows.”  Amelia Bedelia threw the marshmallows into the fire.  I said, “No!  Stop!”  I showed her how to put the marshmallow on a stick.  Then she threw the stick and the marshmallow into the fire.  I showed her how to hold the stick.

All of the supplies for our fun activities with Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping.

Here are some more fun activities that Jill created to go with this story:

  • Pretend you are camping with Amelia Bedelia. You tell her it’s time to pitch the tent and she throws it into the creek. Go outside and help poor Amelia Bedelia create a shelter using branches, trees, flowers or anything you find outside. Then use Legos to create an exact model of your structure.
  • Use little rubber sticky hands (see photo above) for this next activity. While cooking marshmallows, Amelia Bedelia needs to clean her sticky hands. She accidentally mistakes a marshmallow for a bar of soap. This makes her hands even stickier. She wipes her sticky hands all over your clothes, the trees and flowers.  Use your sticky hands on everything around you.
  • Find a little dog toy that can get wet (pictured above).  Pretend Amelia Bedelia has learned that you like to eat hot dogs while you are camping. She goes to her car to get the hot dogs and returns with her “hot dog”.  Take the dog swimming in the bath tub to cool off.

Thank you, Jill and the Enchanted Kids for such a fun book and a great summer reading project.  To see what we sent to Jill and her kids, click here.

The Educators' Spin On It

Check out many more terrific childrens books with accompanying projects at The Educator’s Spin On It.

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