Three Kids' DIY Projects In Your Pantry


It’s turning into quite the snow day here in Maryland, so I pulled out all of my “keep kids amused and out of trouble” recipes, to share with parents who are facing cooped up kiddos. I’ve stuck to those recipes with simple ingredient lists. We're talking cheap, easy fun, that doesn't involve having to listen to fights over the TV remote all day long, and a chance to introduce kids to a little DIY fun. The ingredients lists are all fairly basic and rely on pantry staples.

DIY Play Dough

Play dough can keep small hands busy for hours. And, my mother’s claims that I used to eat my play dough aside, this recipe is entirely non-toxic, which can be crucial for those age groups who put everything in their mouths.


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups salt
  • 4 tablespoons cooking oil
  • Food coloring — your batch of play dough can be any color!


  1. Mix the dry ingredients together.
  2. Add food coloring to the water.
  3. Add colored water into the dry ingredients and mix.
  4. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  5. Remove dough from heat once it has a stiff consistency.
  6. Allow dough to cool.
  7. Knead dough until it has blended smoothly.

This play dough can keep for quite awhile in an airtight container or plastic bag. To really change things up, consider making scented play dough by coloring your batches with Kool-aid powder instead of food coloring. To make a more permanent project, you can bake play dough objects in a 300 degree over for a about an hour, or until hard.


Science classes make this stuff all the time, because it can be a solid and a liquid at the same time. It can be pretty messy, though — putting down newspaper beforehand tends to be a very good idea.


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 ½ cups corn starch
  • Food coloring


  1. Mix thoroughly. That’s it!

Paper Mache

Another messy project, but combining this basic paper mache recipe with newspaper strips can let kids get creative. I usually use tin foil or wire coat hangers to create a base to cover with paper mache. You can let it dry for a few days, and then paint it, if you need a follow up project. An alternative to newspaper and paint is to use white paper strips. With white paper, projects wind up looking like paper sculptures.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt


  1. Mix ingredients until you get a consistency similar to thick glue. Add more water or flour as necessary.
  2. Mix salt in the mixture to prevent mold.

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Myscha Theriault's picture

Oobleck sounds fun!

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

I didn't know that stuff was called oobleck.  It is pretty cool because you can swirl it in your hand and it feels all solid and then goes back to being a liquid when you stop moving it.

Guest's picture

For the paper mache you can put the strips on a balloon then when it dries paint it, fill it with candy and you have your own pinata