Tonawanda News

December 9, 2013

PINSPIRED: Don't eat the yellow snow (dough)

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Cloud dough is a Pinterest favorite. I see it a lot in the “kids” category, in every scent from “cotton candy” to “eucalyptus” (really), purporting to be like the commercial Moon Dough, but cheaper and easy to make at home.

They had me at “cheap.” We’ve never played with the commercial stuff here, but with only two ingredients, it seemed worth a try. I even found a particular variety that was apt for the season: Snow dough. If it could give the boys a snow fix that didn’t end with all of us cold, wet and cranky, I was all for it.

The variety of cloud dough recipes out there are also varied in their ingredients, but all have two things in common: a flour-ish substance and an oily substance. For the former, some use flour, some use cornstarch. 

On the day before Thanksgiving, when we were conducting this little Pinspired experiment, I had better things to be doing with my flour than making play dough out of it, so cornstarch it was. I had three semi-used boxes to get rid of, anyway. Cornstarch is one of those things I always forget I still have tucked in the cupboard while grocery shopping.

The latter ranges from baby oil to canola oil to hand lotion to conditioner. Beyond that, there are additives that range from glitter — for the snow dough — to food coloring to extracts and oils designed to scent the doughy stuff — but those don’t seem to be necessary.

The recipe for snow dough I chose to use called for cornstarch, baby oil — canola oil if you have kids liable to put things in their mouths; baby oil is not good to ingest — and glitter. I grudging ponied up a scant bit of iridescent embossing powder from my scrapbook stash.

From there, you just mix: 2 cups of cornstarch, 1/3 to 1/2 cup of oil and a tablespoon or so of glitter.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that either the recipe was a bit off, or my measuring was. I wound up with an oily goop that didn’t bear a bit of resemblance to sand, dumped more cornstarch in and grimly mixed on. Just keep going, working the oil into the cornstarch, until you have the right texture.

Maybe an additional cup later, I had a grainy-yet-somehow-fluffy mixture that could be molded in your hands, but also crumbled apart like sand. For “snow,” however, it had one small drawback: a distinct yellow color that must have come from the canola oil. I will spare you the jokes about yellow snow here. You’re welcome.

I spread it out on a storage-bin lid, grabbed a couple of toy figures and plopped them down in it and called the boys over.

Jim patted it, squished a handful, then grimaced, wiped his hands on his pants and wandered back off. Sam was intrigued. He played for about half an hour, making “snowmen” and rampaging through the (off-)white stuff with his toy dinosaurs, then lost interest, leaving a scattering of crumbly dough that couldn’t be easily swept or picked up from the back room carpet. I had to drag out the vacuum cleaner. I cleaned the rest up for later play and stored it in a resealable container. We’ll see if he ever thinks of it again.

So, honestly, the verdict is mixed.

If your kids are fond of sensory play and like the real Moon Dough, you might wish to give this a shot. I wasn’t all that impressed. It wasn’t so sturdy as modeling clay, and to me, the consistency wasn’t something all that intriguing on its own. Personally, I found the texture downright unpleasant.

But it did keep a 5-year-old pleasantly entertained for a while, and I can’t discount that. All the same, I think he’d rather stick with real snow ... and I agree.

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at jill.keppeler@tonawanda-news.com. Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler.

• WHAT: Snow dough • DIFFICULTY: Easy • TIME: Ten minutes • RESULT: It's easy and cheap enough to warrant a try. Pin it.