Saturday, January 8, 2011

White Play-Dough

So at the beginning of the school year, Mark signed us up to provide the play-dough for Nathan's class in January.  Our assigned color was white.  The color of snowmen and snowflakes and winter bleakness sparkle and wonder.  You know, white.


Um, do you know what a problem this is?  When I yelled fussed whined had a polite rational adult conversation with Mark about why he would ever do such a thing, he was quick to point out that he didn't have a choice; it was the only color no one had signed up for yet.  Hmmm.  Yes, Marky, and did you stop to wonder why??? 

Well, now we know. White play-dough is extremely hard to come by.  True story.

I started hunting for it at the beginning of December.  Turns out no one sells individual cans of white (it only comes in multi-color sets).  White isn't available in big class-sized tubs.  Even off-brands and too-stiff-for-toddler-hands modeling clay aren't available in just white, and definitely not for kiddo-playtime pricing. 

We contemplated lots crazy scenarios where we buy random color assortments, open them, switch out the colors until we have twelve whites, and return the ones we don't need (all in multiple transactions of course; with sales and coupons we couldn't do it all at once, that would be too easy! after all, white play-dough was clearly sent forth into the world to challenge us).  I even contemplated total defiance and came close to buying lavender and sending that instead (another preschool teacher talked me down from the lavender ledge, it seems they would need to talk about the snow or something, and it should be white, follow the rules, blah blah blah).

So it seemed our only option was to pay like five bucks a can to buy it from someone on ebay or amazon (sellers who clearly knew they could make a killing off the poor schmuck parents who signed up to bring twelve servings of play-dough to their children's preschool classrooms at the beginning of January).


We could make the play-dough.


Here's the thing: we're not really a make the play-dough kind of family.  I don't like crafts.  Crafts really are not fun (you know it's true).  Also, I find homemade play-dough kind of smelly and gross.  Also, in pretty much any color you could hope for, you can buy it for less than a dollar a can.  Why would someone make it?

Because someone's husband signed up for white, that's why.

But because someone's husband is apparently craftier than someone, or apparently tired of the month-long hunt to buy it, someone's husband generously offered to make a classroom-sized batch of white play-dough.  How awesome* is someone's husband after all?

I did some googling, bought a few ingredients, and Mark and Nathan got to work.  And you know what?  The play-dough turned out awesome. 

Twelve perfect little tubs for the kiddos in Nathan's class. 

When I dropped him off at school the next day, his teacher gushed and expressed appreciation for the effort of homemade play-dough (does she live  under a rock?  does she think we had a choice?  does she not understand the dearth of pre-manufactured white play-dough in our society??), and I handed it over with a smile.

At which time Nathan proclaimed (loudly and with a smile), Daddy made it!!

I guess I had that coming.

*Also on that same day, Mark single-handedly boxed up every Christmas decoration in the house and dragged the (long since dead) tree to the curb, made his own dinner without making me feel like a housewife failure, and folded and put away almost two weeks' worth of laundry. Dad of the year what.  (And it's only January.)


ashley said...

should have put Marmie to the task. She can find anything at stores!

Chelle said...

I'm kicking myself for not writing my own post about play-doh making.

I was responsible for red play-doh, but I figured the burgundy icing dye I had would be okay. Unfortunately, it turned out mauve...not exactly the Christmasy red they were looking for! So I had to send poor David out in the rain for red food coloring and cream of tartar (since I only had enough of that for one recipe!)

So all that to say, I too hate play-doh, and I feel your pain...

Megan said...

Crafts are not fun?!?

Betsy B said...


Erin Halsey said...

Go Mark!

Jenny said...

For the list maker in you:
1. Crafts are fun. Always have been; always will be.

2. Playdough is one of the only things that will occupy any kid for more than 20 minutes.

3. Making playdough is genius! Can I have the recipe?

4. Can I borrow your husband, even for a day? Nope, more like 20 minutes. He always puts mine to shame.

5. A is getting to big, too fast. Make her slow down please.

6. Miss your face.

7. {censored} check your email :)

8. I will call you when we get back from GA and tell you about it.

9. We need to see each other soon.


merritt said...

GREAT story!

I don't think I ever played with store-bought play-doh growing up. My mom always made it. I have a feeling I need to make it since Finn puts everything in his mouth still, and knowing I made it at home might make that sure-to-happen fiasco seem a little less awful. :)

Sarah D. said...

I'm with Mert - homemade play dough is the way to go (plus you can make a ton at a time)! Making play dough with my mom is one of my favorite memories... I can even remember which pot we used. AND my preschool kids ONLY played with homemade play dough. YAY, Mark! Hey - what is the secret to making it white???

Neil said...

Mark is a champ!

Anonymous said...

Did I ever tell you the story about when Little David wanted playdough so badly, and mom wouldn't buy it or make it (though I knew she could; she'd done it before)? I got so mad that I got a boombox and taped myself yelling "I WANT CLAY! YES I DO!" at the top of my lungs until I got hoarse -- then I rewound the tape and played IT at full volume. Never got the stupid clay.

My mother's a saint for not killing me.


justinereynolds said...

Hey I'm trying to make white playdough for preschool and cant seem to get it to be white, it comes out beige. How did you get white? and what recipe did you used? thank you

Mark said...

There have been a couple people asking for the recipe. I can't remember exactly which one I used, but this is one is close from what I can remember.

1 c. flour
2 tbsp. cream of tartar
1/2 c. salt
1 tbsp. oil (I used baby oil instead of vegetable, so that may help with the whiteness)
1 c. boiling water

I mixed the dry ingredients together, then added the boiling water. It wasn't perfectly white, but pretty close.

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher and every year we have a math art day rotation for the whole school. My center is fraction art where we mix primary colors with fractional teaspoons to make colors. I have had white in sets with blue, yellow and red. I just discovered I was low on white. I spent the whole evening looking for white play dough. And was so frustrated. I would have had to buy big packages of play dough just to get the white.

And Yes, for some odd reason, the teacher stores don't sell buckets of white!! So I went home late tonight to google a recipe for homemade playdough.

Thank you for your funny article. I didn't feel so crazy anymore---

Hunting around for white playdough!!!

I laughed--and used your recipe. Thank you.

3rd grade teacher

Anonymous said...

haha I'm cracking up! I had the same experience! (except that I am the frustrated teacher who can't find white play dough!) I made it last year with flour but it didn't come out snow-white. I just found a recipe w cornstarch that I will try! Thanks for sharing!