Salt Dough Tree Ornaments

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I’ve never tried making salt dough ornaments before but my daycare children love making cookies with cookie cutter shapes.  They were excited to give this craft project a try.  I searched the internet for a recipe and found a dozen different ones.

I started with 1 cup of flour and mixed in 1 cup of salt.  The recipe said add about 3/4 of a cup of water. We added the water and stirred.  It was a runny sticky mess. Gradually I added more flour and more salt.  I kept on adding more flour and more salt until the dough was firm enough to knead.  Eventually with even more flour and more salt I was able to roll it out without it sticking together.

I can’t tell what the final combination of flour/salt/water was in the end but I can tell you that 1 cup of flour with 1 cup of salt mixed with 3/4 of a cup of water DOES NOT WORK.

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When we tackle this project again I will use:

1 cup of flour

1/2 cup of salt

1/3 cup of water  (add more if needed)

Once we arrived with our final dough combination it worked great!  The children took turns rolling out the dough (and playing with it).  They pressed in their cookie cutter shapes.

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I used a spatula to transfer the shapes to a lined cookie sheet.  I used a straw to make holes in the shapes so we could attach a ribbon later.

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Every salt dough recipe I read had a different suggestion for oven temperature and the length of time to bake the ornaments. I chose 200 F and I left them in for 4 hours because our ornaments were quite thick.  I remember one recipe suggested putting them into the microwave if you are in a hurry.

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We used acrylic paints to decorate the ornaments.  Normally my young daycare children paint with Crayola washable paints but I’ve found in the past that acrylic paint sticks better and has a more vibrant colour when it comes to some craft projects. One year I had the children paint bird houses and I used our regular washable paints.  We put the bird houses outside and (of course) all the paint washed away after a few good rain storms!

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The children let their ornaments dry and then I threaded a ribbon through each one.

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I wrote each child’s name on the back of their ornament and their age as a keepsake gift for their parents.

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Even when a craft project turns into a bit of a disaster I try to remember that the children view the activity very differently than I do. When I asked them later if they liked making the salt dough ornaments they all smiled and shouted, “Yes!”

One child said he liked the part when he got to play with the dough for so long while I kept adding more salt into the bowl.  Sometimes even a lumpy mess ends up being a success.

Happy holidays everyone!

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