Inside: Homemade cranberry playdough is an observable and actionable science for your kids (scroll down to science printables).
I admit that I miss it … the brilliant glory of the summer sun…
But it’s gone now. It’s a gray Sunday morning in the deep fall. The air is chilly. And the sun is not shining.
But I know one secret that makes the non-summer time of the year immediately more exciting – embracing the warm, tingling, exuberant seasonal flavors! Peppermint! Gingerbread! Eggnog!
And let’s not forget cranberries. Those tart, pucker-face ruby gems!
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I don’t know about you, but for me, every grocery trip involves buying a bag of frozen cranberries. I add a handful of berries to practically everything I cook – soups, casseroles, …. this morning, I added them to the omelet along with vegan feta… (I’m not even vegan, but I just love Violife vegan feta)… super yum!
I have also discovered that one bag of Ocean Spray cranberries can be used for three projects:
- Doing one invisible ink activity +
- Making one portion of cranberry play dough (this post) +
- Adding a burst of fresh fall cranberry flavor to one dinner dish.
One bag of cranberries! Triple results!
And if you are reading this during the time of the year when the air has a crisp chill to it, and the urge to cozy up on the couch with a warm cup of tea is irresistible, also try a calming lavender playdough recipe.
Homemade Cranberry Playdough Recipe
Homemade Cranberry Playdough is a great introduction to chemistry and mixture, and your kids have so much fun they don’t even know that a science lesson has taken place. Scroll down for the science behind the activity.
What you need
1 cup flour (we used gluten-free) + a bit for dusting
1 cup salt
1 Tablespoon cream of tartar
½ cup water
1 Tablespoon oil
¼ cup cranberry juice (we made our own)
1 tablespoon glycerine (optional)
10 drops of red food coloring (we use the one I linked for all our kitchen projects)
What to do
1. Mix the dry ingredients
Mix the dry ingredients: flour, salt, and cream of tartar.
2. Combine the wet ingredients
Mix the wet ingredients: oil, water, cranberry juice, glycerine (if using), and food coloring.
3. Stir wet and dry ingredients together
Add them to the dry ingredients and stir well.
Note: Use more food coloring if you are using the natural kind, as we did (LINK). Use less if you are using the grocery store red food coloring, like McCormick brand (it’s way too potent and can potentially stain your hands).
Mix with a spoon and then knead until a uniform mixture forms.
The Science of Playdough: Mixtures
Combing ingredients in the kitchen can lead to a life of science love…
In science, a mixture means that even though different things are combined to create a pretty homogenous substance (it’s evenly mixed and all looks like the same stuff), the ingredients retain their chemical identity.
When you mix honey into your tea, for example, it all melts into the hot liquid and disappears! You can’t look at a cup of tea and see the honey, but it’s still there. You can smell the honey, and you can taste the honey.
Similarly, if you mix flour and sugar and salt to bake a cake, you can’t see them separately, but you could certainly taste them if you tried (not recommended, since flour tastes pretty bad uncooked : )
On the other hand, if you combine something like vinegar and baking soda (an acid and a base), a chemical reaction occurs, and the ingredients transform… bubble and steam! That’s because those two ingredients are no longer vinegar and baking soda – they’re now water and carbon dioxide – two totally different chemicals!
Lucky for us, the ingredients that makeup playdough combine to form a very pleasing mixture we call playdough – smooth, soft, and squishy.