Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
on February 21, 2012
Very first recipe:
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons talcum powder
3 tablespoons liquid dish soap
2-3 drops food coloring.
Ask yourself how 1/3 cup cornstarch is supposed to make a stable gelatinous matrix in 1 1/2 cups water.
It doesn't. Neither the talcum powder nor the liquid dish soap are going to help. What you will get is basically sticky, foamy white gravy. It's like foamy glue. Think about it--cooked water and cornstarch (roughly gooey gravy) mixed with dish soap and a little talcum powder. It's possible that the author cooked it down so much that the ratio of cornstarch to water was much higher than mine, but it just says "comes to a boil and thickens". I let it cook as long as I dared. That wouldn't make much sense anyway; in that case just start with much less water.
I kept expecting some sort of chemical miracle to happen. I can't think of any obvious way to fix this, short of more cornstarch. Also, I would suggest adding oil instead of dish soap. Otherwise, this stuff is about as manipulable as pancake batter. Maybe the dish soap is preservative or to keep it from drying out, but salt would work better for the former purpose and oil better for the latter. And oil would make it non-sticky.
My guess is that there's a typo, or a step missing, or expectations regarding what this was supposed to be (it's not 'playdough') set wrong.
I added some oil and a lot more cornstarch to salvage the project as best I could. However, after playing with the dough, I found that our hands were coated in dish soap. I suppose that kids aren't going to ingest enough to hurt them but I wonder at the wisdom of this.
My guess is that nobody on the publishing staff bothered to test these instructions out, or proof-read them. Notice that several reviewers gave the book a 5-star rating despite apparently not having actually done any of the projects.
Maybe some of the other recipes work better, but after the sticky mess this made, and all the time it took to try to salvage it (about an hour), I feel once burned twice shy.
There are other problems, such as questionable advice such as telling a child "That is very smart of you to add a sun to the sky". Encouragement is good but it's better to praise what the child is doing instead of the child ("I like how you added a sun to the sky"). Children who are constantly told that they are smart tend to be underperformers later on, because they try to live up to the self-image and "protect" it by not trying very hard. It's a well-known phenomenon documented in any of several books, and experience bears it out.
You can find similar recipes on the internet, that probably actually work, and they come without the questionable attitudinal advice.