Baking Soda Ocean Art

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Travis and I made a batch of a neat baking soda dough today! Originally we hoped to craft a few ocean creatures and corals. It turns out Travis also just had a blast playing with the dough in his own way while I did more of the actual sculpting, but that means it was a win-win all around.

To make the dough, combine 1 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup cornstarch, and 3/4 cup water in a bowl. Travis loves whenever we make “potions” like this.

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Microwave for 1 minute, then stir. Microwave for a second minute and then stir; you’ll notice it is starting to thicken around the edges.

Continue to microwave at 20 second intervals thereafter, until the mixture is thick and creamy like mashed potatoes. Travis was the button presser for this part, as you can see! We needed about 3 or 4 intervals.

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Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel, and let cool.

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(Note: if your child is antsy during this waiting period, put leftover baking soda to good use with a classic volcano).

I tested the dough to make sure it had cooled completely, and found it to be quite sticky. I sprinkled in additional baking soda, and needed quite a lot; I wasn’t measuring, but probably close to 1/4 cup. If your dough is also sticky, add a little baking soda at a time and knead in after each addition. If you find you have the opposite problem (a dough that is too stiff), add a little extra water.

Travis loved the way it felt!

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At first he wanted to know how to make sea creatures, especially the starfish: Form 5 teardrop shapes, and attach them together.

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Some extra dots of dough give the starfish bumpy texture.

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Coral was also fun; form a round ball, then add marks with a pencil for texture.

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From there, Travis had his own game going, happily getting his hands into the dough over and over again.

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I rounded out our ocean collection with a few more sea creatures. For a sand dollar, roll a ball and then flatten. Draw a flower shape in the center with the tip of a pencil, and add a few holes around the edges.

Tube sponges were the neatest to make: Roll a few log shapes, then attach together, and punch a hole in the center of each with a pencil.

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Finally, we rolled up a few cute sea snails.

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Travis really wanted to play with these right away, which you can do if you bake at 175 degrees F for about 45 minutes. But when he learned that this would mean the dough turning brown, he – maturely! – decided he could wait the day or so you’ll need for the dough to dry completely.

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Definitely worth the wait.

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