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  • Abbey M.

Air Dry Clay

Goal of Activity:

This activity develops fine motor skills, strengthening the small muscles in hands. It encourages creativity by leaving the finished product open-ended. The act of creating something is calming and allows children to focus on the tactile experiences of mixing ingredients and kneading dough.


1 ½ cups cornstarch (plus more for kneading)

1 cup liquid glue

1 tablespoon baby oil

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 teaspoon hair conditioner or body lotion

Large bowl for mixing

Rubber spatula or big spoon for mixing

Activity Steps:

Before we start, we need to collect all your supplies and find a clean workspace.

Step 1: To begin, measure the corn starch,

glue, baby oil, vinegar, and conditioner or lotion into a big bowl. (Step 1 photo) Then, stir with your spatula or spoon until all the ingredients are mixed. Mix slowly so that the ingredients don’t spill out of the bowl.

Mixing takes some time, so feel free to pause or ask for help if your arms get tired. (Step 1.5 photo)

Step 2: When all your ingredients are mixed together, the dough might still be too wet and sticky to touch with your hands. (Step 2 photo)If it looks wet, like this, keep adding corn starch, ¼ cup at a time, until the dough comes together into one big lump, and it isn’t too sticky. To test the stickiness, start by touching it with just one finger

so it doesn’t get all over your hands if it is too sticky. Once the dough is thick enough that you can pick it up, you’re ready for your next step. (Step 2.5 photo)

Step 3: Sprinkle a little more cornstarch directly on the table (you can use a place mat or cutting board to make it easier to clean up). Then place your clay mixture onto that part of the table and knead the dough. To do this, form the dough into a ball, then press the ball with your palm to squish it down. Re-form your dough into a ball and repeat until everything is mixed together and you don’t feel any lumps. you might need to keep adding cornstarch if it still feels sticky. (Step 3 photo)

Step 4: Once the dough is smooth and not sticky, you’re ready to create something! Here are some examples of ideas you could try: a handprint (or paw print) keepsake, a thumbprint heart, and a stars and moon mobile. (Example 1 photo, example 2 photo, example 3 photo) You can use cookie cutters, a rolling pin, your hands, or anything else you think might be a good tool - just be sure to ask a grown up before using a new tool, to make sure it’s okay to use on clay.

It might take a day or two for your clay to fully dry, depending on how thick your project is. It’s best to check with a grown up in your house about where you should leave your piece to dry. If you have extra space on a table or shelf, that would be a great space to keep it out of the way while it dries. Make sure to leave it on something like a piece of paper or a place mat to keep it from sticking to the surface you dry it on.

Once your clay creation feels hard, you can paint it if you want to! Here are some examples of ideas you could try: a handprint (or paw print) keepsake, a thumbprint heart, and a stars and moon mobile.

I can’t wait to see what you create with your homemade air-dry clay!

- Made by Abbey M.

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