A creative lesson in patience.

Salt dough bag decorations.

I'd been trying to think of something different for the kids to get stuck into after school when I remembered that just before Christmas, my oldest young fox made baked Xmas tree decorations with boiled sweet centres (we'll do those next Christmas).  I turned to his recipe book to pinch the dough recipe before recalling that the points of the stars and trees broke off quite quickly and decided to investigate further to find a 'stronger' recipe.  This one I found and used really bakes REALLY hard.
Here it is below - but first take a temporary jump to the part where I write, '*bake for about 5 hours*' to appreciate the title of this piece...


  • 2 parts (cup, glass or small child's beaker)
  • 1 part salt
  • 1 part water


  • rolling pin
  • mixing bowl
  • chopping board or pastry board and grease proof paper 
  • baking tray
  • paint 
  • paint brush
  • cookie cutters in desired shape - as it's winter, the kids chose; a snail, a hedgehog and a squirrel to be sort of wintery woodlandy... 
  • thin ribbon or raffia paper of hemp string, etc.

What we did to make the dough shapes;

  1. Firstly, we set out all the bits and bobs that we needed so that we could check it all off the list and take a nice photo for the blog.                    
  2. Having done this, we mixed the flour, salt and water together in the mixing bowl with a spoon until it had formed into a ball and then took turns to knead it for 5 - 10 mins.  The kids loved kneading the dough and feeling it squish and squeeze through their fingers and once they'd had enough, we left the dough to rest while they had their dinner.  This was the first test of patience as they were keen to start rolling the ball flat.                                                                                      
  3. They managed this part admirably and after dinner, we dusted the chopping board and rolling pin with flour and set to work rolling it out to a roughly 1/2 cm slab.  Obviously, keep dusting as necessary - giving them free reign to make a contained mess was a part of the task that the kids really enjoyed.
  4. Having rolled it out flat, they chose their shapes from the cookie cutters and pressed then into the dough. Then the cut out shapes were placed on the grease proof paper on our baking tray and with the left over dough, I made their initials.  
  5. Once all the shapes were on the tray, I pushed a hole into each through which to thread the ribbon and popped them into the oven to *bake for about 5 hours*.     

At this point, I had some calming to do so I would suggest that this cooking time is told to them before they begin - learn from my mistake here...
I bribed them with their pudding and told them that we had something to think about and look forward to after school tomorrow.

Once the dough was hard and completely dried out, I turned the oven off and went to bed leaving the shapes in the oven to pull out cool in the morning.

Before I picked the kids up from school the following day, I set the table with newspaper, rock hard dough shapes and paint and brushes ready for their finishing touches.  Once home, they dropped their bags, put on their painting shirts and set about painting up their shapes.  We left the paint to dry before adding a gloss varnish and once that had dried, threaded a length of ribbon through the hole.  Now some decorations are proudly attached to their book bags and some are tied to their beds .

I'm also now thinking that we might use the same recipe to make some egg, bunny or flower shapes at Easter.  There's no limit to the occasions and uses for this home made modelling medium so it's down to you and your littluns to get creative and try some different ideas.  I recently made little plaques (paper tiles) for their bedroom doors, perhaps this dough could be used to craft door signs... the dough really does dry rock solid so there are endless possibilities.

If you get around to making this 'stuff', send us pictures of your creations and we'll post them up on our blog.  It was great tactile fun for them, I'm pretty sure all kids will love rolling their sleeves up for this one.


  1. Lovely! And great pics - they look as if they're having loads of fun. I've been reading a book about how French people get their children to sit nicely in restaurants (among other freakily well-behaved things) and the message so far appears to be that teaching them about delayed gratification is the key, so this looks like an excellent starting point!

  2. I often read about how good French children are, apparently they don't have tantrums either... not sure I quite believe it all. As children, my sisters and I suffered delayed gratification on a whole different scale to that which my own children (think they) do and my mum gladly and happily reminds me of how she dealt with 3 screaming, fighting, rude, pesky pests.
    Maybe there is something in it on a some basis though - and any advice on having more well behaved children will be gratefully received, chewed over and lapped up - what's the book called?!

  3. Oh mums are good at that aren't they? If mine has regaled us once with the story of how I wet my pants 5 times on my way to a friend's birthday party, she has regaled us with it 150 times.
    And I bet it wasn't FIVE times anyway.
    Anyhow. The book is called 'French Children Don't Throw Food'by Pamela Druckerman. We still haven't been able to show our faces in Wagamama after the incident we had there when ours were tiny so I'm definitely hoping to pick up some tips.


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