The Valentine Bears Book Play
Crispy Critter Cookies

Play Clay Valentine Hearts

This activity was inspired by The Valentine Bears. To learn more about the book and to see all of Off the Shelf's Valentine Bears activities, click here

We originally wanted our craft this week to be a play clay Valentine magnet, to be hung on the refrigerator or memo beard and admired, bringing cheer through the dreary winter days. Then, after a failed batch of play clay and the discovery that for them to be thin, and therefore light, enough to be held by a magnet, they would be very fragile (not good for easily frustrated budding artists!) they became objects. Call them paper weights, or even tchotchkes, they are still there bringing cheer to all who see them!

Play Clay

Despite our initial failure with the play clay recipe, it is very easy. The key is to cook it over low heat. Just as the baking soda and cornstarch websites say, it is economical and easy, perfect for rainy or snowy days. Kids can help make the dough, stirring the ingredients before cooking, but you can also prepare it ahead of time, as it keeps for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Play Clay 1

Play Clay 2


  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  1. In a medium saucepan, stir together the baking soda and cornstarch until well combined. 
  2. Add the water and oil and stir well. 
  3. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches the consistency of very soft mashed potatoes. It will go from wet to too dry quickly, so remove from heat earlier rather than later.  
  4. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, knead the dough on a counter sprinkled with more cornstarch.

To Make the Hearts

After kneading the dough, let your readers go to town with twisting, patting, rolling, and cutting the dough into whatever shapes they want. We patted the dough out to about 1/2-inch thick, then used heart shaped cookie cutters in different sizes to make the hearts.

Allow the formed shapes to dry on a cooling rack overnight. Once dry, they can be decorated with watercolors, markers, or paint. Allow to dry completely.

play clay valentine hearts

play clay valentine hearts



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