Today I have my first of many teaching exams,which is comprised of creating an activity and "teaching" it to one of my instructors. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Montessori method, the learning is experienced through the use of "materials" (like sandpaper letters or the infamous Pink Tower) across a variety of subject areas (such as Practical Life, which this exam was for). I came up with something that was only natural for me as a bakeaholic - rolling out and cutting "cookie dough"! Of course, the "dough" had to be reusable, long lasting and safe for kids, so I broke out my inner child and made my own playdough.
We were a homemade playdough family growing up. My sister and I would beg my mom to break out the saucepan and cream of tartar at least once a month so we could have a fresh batch in a new colour to play with. My favourite part was handling the barely cooled dough - for some reason I had (and still have) a super-high tolerance for heat. Good training for falling in love with cooking, I guess! I definitely wanted to make my own playdough for this exam - partially because it is a lot cheaper to make your own and so that I could have a version that was wheat free and so wouldn't irritate my skin when I was handling it. Commercial Play-Doh is made with standard wheat flour, and while you can find Gluten Free Playdough on Amazon, it's not exactly an easy to get, inexpensive plaything.
I scouted around for a recipe that used what I had on hand (with the exception of Cream of Tartar, which I knew I'd have to get) and found what looked like a winner on Celiac Family. It's almost on a par with my mom's recipe in terms of ease and convenience - I mean, what grocery store doesn't have cornstarch, and most even have rice flour these days. What I did find as I was making the mixture was that it needed a lot more cornstarch to come together, but luckily it's easily fixed (and when I added a bit too much on that end, a drizzle of water made a perfect "dough"). I would suggest making it at least a few hours before really "playing" with it, since while it's sticky in a warm state after being wrapped and left to sit a little bit the liquid distributes more evenly and it's more user friendly.
Now, I'm sure you are way smarter than I was and realize that if you want tinted dough (I highly recommend using a paste or gel colouring so you don't liquefy your dough), you will need to knead it in while wearing gloves. Well, unless you don't mind looking like the Purple People Eater (I did red and blue) or worse, like you have gangrene all over your hands and nails!
Shared with Gluten Free Fridays and Waste Not Want Not Wednesdays
Gluten Free Playdough
Makes about 3 cups
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup cornstarch
½ cup salt
1 tbsp cream of tartar
1 ½ tbsp canola oil
1 cup + 2 tbsp hot water
gel food colouring as desired