Christmas Craft Idea for Kids: DIY Salt Dough Tree Ornaments
Making salt dough tree ornaments is a fun way to get ready for the festive season, and can also be a fun way to develop your child’s maths skills. (By Reading Eggs content writer and author Sara Leman)
The holiday season is one full of traditions. As soon as the tree makes its annual appearance at home, my daughter starts asking to make salt dough tree ornaments.
Having never been one of those fabulously ‘crafty’ mothers who relish the thought of having paint and glitter smeared all over the house, this is one craft activity that I don’t actually mind. The end results look great and unbelievably, the process is educationally worthwhile!
Nurturing early maths skills begins at home (or the kitchen!)
Research has indicated that most babies are born with an innate mathematical ability, and as parents, we often see our role as nurturers and early educators of our young children.
Encouraging our children’s natural instincts for mathematics can be as fun and simple as counting up and down flights of steps, sorting coloured buttons or socks into piles, singing counting songs together and identifying shapes in the environment. Cooking is also a fun and engaging way to enhance children’s mathematical sense and ability.
Kitchen mathematics encompasses a wide range of mathematical vocabulary and processes, including:
- Mathematical vocabulary: more than; less than; half-full; how much more; too much; not enough; bigger than; smaller than; fill; empty; temperature; degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; seconds; minutes; hours; litre/pint/cup/quart etc.
- Number and counting: one-to-one correspondence; cardinality; adding; subtracting; doubling; halving; fractions
- Measurement: weighing ingredients; reading scales; formal measures of mass, volume and capacity; temperature; time
- Estimation: about the same; a bit more than; a bit less than
- Geometry: identifying different cookie cutter shapes; sorting shapes; recognising properties of shapes; comparing shapes; spatial awareness; tessellation.
Making salt dough ornaments is a fantastic, festive opportunity to build some mathematics skills whilst having fun with your child. They are quick and easy to make, with only three simple ingredients. Once they are baked, your child can use their imagination to decorate them. Simply tie on some thread and they are ready to go! They look good on the tree and also make great gifts.
How to make salt dough Christmas tree ornaments
- 4 cups plain flour
- 1 cup table salt
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- Preheat oven to 180°C/ 356°F.
- Whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Slowly add the water and stir until it all comes together.
- Use your hands to form the mixture into a ball.
- Knead until the dough is soft.
- Use a large piece of baking/parchment paper as a base and roll the dough until it is about ½ cm or ¼" thick.
- Use festive cookie cutters to cut out the shapes.
- Peel away the excess dough and transfer the shapes to a baking sheet.
- Use a skewer, straw or toothpick to make a hole in each shape. This is for the ribbon to hang the ornament. (You can also put some texture on the shapes using scissors or a fork.)
- Bake for about 35 minutes, or until hard.
- Allow to cool and then get creative with the paints (I prefer to use acrylic paints). Add some glitter and glue for extra sparkle.
- Finally tie on some ribbon or thread and your salt dough ornaments are ready to go!
For more ways to build your child’s mathematical skills, try Mathseeds online for free. The comprehensive online maths programme makes learning fun for children aged 3 to 8. It includes interactive games, activities, lessons and rewards that help children learn early mathematical skills and concepts.
You can sign up for your free trial of Mathseeds and Reading Eggs here.