Exploring Science With Toys

After trying some of these activities, visit Consumer Guide to learn more about science toys and see which toys are most popular with kids.

Salt is an inexpensive ingredient for dozens of fun-filled arts and crafts projects for children of all ages. What's more, salt can be used in tricks that people have been studying for hundreds of years. This article features a handful of exciting children's activities or projects that are possible with salt. But please note that some of the projects will require adult supervision. Now let's get started with how to make a special dough that can be used for hours of creative play or as part of numerous projects.

Salt Dough

One of the most common creative uses for salt is to make a dough that is similar to molding clay and some of the popular play clays. Best of all, salt dough is easy to make and economical! Give this recipe a try with your children on the next rainy day or during school break. Begin by collecting the following ingredients.

  • 1 cup salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Medium bowl
  • 11/2 cups warm water
  • Rolling pin
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil*

Salt PaintingThis cool art project will take your children a couple of days to complete, but the results will be well worth the wait! To get started, you will need the following materials:

  • Clear self-adhesive vinyl
  • Scissors
  • Salt
  • Watercolors
  • Paintbrush
  • Construction paper
  • Glue
  • Coloring book (optional)
  1. Cut the self-adhesive vinyl into a size suitable for drawing a picture (8 × 10 inches is a good size). Peel backing from the vinyl, then sprinkle the entire sticky side with salt. Hold up the vinyl, and gently shake off any excess salt. Let it sit for 2 days.
  2. Place the sheet of vinyl, salty side up, on top of a coloring book picture to trace, or over a plain piece of paper to make an original drawing. Using a set of watercolors and a paintbrush, paint the salty side of vinyl to make the drawing. Paint lightly; too much pressure could ruin the paintbrush. Let it dry, then remove the paper from underneath the sheet of vinyl. Glue the painted salt paper to a background piece of paper to make it sturdy. You can glue it either the salty-side or smooth-side up.

Gift Bath SaltsSave money on gifts by making your own fragrant bath salts. This is a great activity to do with your kids, too! Before you begin, collect the following materials:

  • Large glass or metal mixing bowl
  • 2 cups Epsom salt
  • 1 cup sea salt, rock salt, or coarse salt
  • Food coloring
  • Metal spoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon glycerin
  • Essential oil for fragrance such as vanilla, citrus, or peppermint (optional)
  • Glass jars with screw-on metal lids or cork stoppers or clear gift bags

This project is best done on a day with low humidity because the salt will absorb moisture in the air. Combine the salts in the bowl and mix well. Add food coloring and stir with a metal spoon until well blended. (Food coloring will stain plastic or wooden spoons.) Add glycerin and about 4 to 5 drops of essential oil; stir again. Adjust the coloring if desired by adding more food coloring. Spoon the colored salts into decorative glass jars or gift bags. Add a gift tag with instructions to use 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the salts in a bath.Older children can also discover hours of fun by working on creative projects involving salt. Let's check out some of those advanced projects in the next section.