Things You'll Need
4 cups baking soda
3 cups cornstarch
Food coloring (optional)
Fragrant essential oils (optional)
Putty is a rubbery version of modeling clay that offers children simple entertainment and the opportunity to use their imaginations while strengthening the fine muscles of the fingers and hands. Fine motor skill development in young children is important, and the rubber consistency of homemade putty allows children to manipulate, stretch, twist and press the substance while developing those skills. Although you can purchase store-bought putty for your child or students, homemade putty made with flour is simple to make, non-toxic and more cost-effective than its commercial counterpart.
Pour 3 cups of water into a cooking pot. Add 4 cups of baking soda and 3 cups of cornstarch. Stir the three ingredients together with a fork to break up any clumps in the baking soda or cornstarch.
Add a few drops of food coloring to the putty mixture before thickening it. Start with 3 drops and add more food coloring, one drop at a time, until you've achieved the desired color.
Boil the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it thickens. Remove the pot from the heat.
Tear off four large squares of wax paper and lay them on the counter. Spoon the putty mixture onto the wax paper, making four different piles.
Scent the putty by adding two or three drops of essential oil to each pile of putty. Squeeze and knead the fragrance into the cooled putty to mix it in. Use different fragrances, if desired, for each separate putty mixture.
Store the cooled putty in plastic containers with lids to keep it from becoming dry.
Provide young children with clean baking sheets or trays on which to play with the putty. This helps avoid having the putty end up on the floor, where it can get stuck in the carpet.
Use putty to help children practice making letters to reinforce letter recognition and strengthen fine motor skills.