We love ornaments, and since we've been having so much fun with candy canes lately (Candy Cane Foam Dough, Marbled Candy Cane Art, and more to come), we felt it was only natural to make some super cool Candy Cane Ornaments! I love this style of salt dough ornament because it's super easy for toddlers to help. If you have an older child (preschool or older), they may even be able to make the whole candy cane themselves! If that weren't enough, I also love the old fashioned rustic feel of the finished ornaments.
We love getting a HUGE Christmas tree, so we decided to make HUGE candy cane ornaments. :) I made one batch of red dough and one batch of plain dough.
Rolling a "snake" out of playdough is a great toddler task. Now mind you, their "snake" might not be perfect, but if you are keeping these ornaments as mementos, that's part of the fun. S is four now, so she's actually pretty proficient. Because we were making SO many ornaments, S opted to have me make "snakes" with her. She would make one from either red or white (her choice), and I would do the opposite color.
I'd hand her my finished snake and she'd twist the snakes around each other. This is a bit more complicated - a toddler may or may not be able to do this, but a preschooler probably can. To make the candy cane, lay the two "snakes" side by side, making sure they are the same length. Pinch/squeeze one end of the two "snakes" together and then wrap them around each other.
Depending on how tightly she'd coiled them around each other, she'd sometimes request that I give them an extra twist or two at the end. Then she or I would move them to the parchment paper covered baking tray and make the final candy cane shape.
Our ready-to-bake canes! It was so crazy how in most cases you couldn't tell the few canes I'd made myself from the ones S had made! She's getting so skilled at these ornaments!
To make your own Old Fashioned Candy Canes you'll need:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water
For the "white" batch of dough, just mix the above well. I find kneading/mixing by hand works fine. Your dough should not be sticky - if it is, add more flour. For the "red" batch of dough, we opted to use liquid watercolors (but food coloring would also work). Your food coloring or liquid watercolors should be added to the 1/2 cup of water you are measuring. So I added the liquid watercolors to our 1/2 cup first, then filled the remaining space with water (if that makes sense!). You don't want to add more than 1/2 cup of liquid to the dry ingredients. I again mixed by hand until the dough was nice and evenly colored (around 1-2 minutes of kneading).
If you'd like a more modern looking candy cane, after twisting the two colored "snakes" around each other, roll that out into one big smooth "snake". This will give the candy cane a smooth appearance rather than the rough braided appearance you see on our old fashioned candy cane ornaments.
Once you're done making your candy canes, pop them in a 200 degree oven for two hours. Since we'd had such success with our delicious smelling Pumpkin Spice Salt Dough ornaments, we thought we'd try adding a healthy dose of peppermint extract to this dough. Though the dough smelled amazing and our house smelled fantastic while they were baking - after they'd cooled you could only barely pick up a hint of peppermint. Boo. But minus the slight disappointment of losing their scent, they're amazing life like candy canes that we've used in pretend play and can't wait to decorate our tree with!
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All activities here are activities I feel are safe for my own children. As your child's parents/guardians, you will need to decide what you feel is safe for your family. I always encourage contacting your child's pediatrician for guidance if you are not sure about the safety/age appropriateness of an activity. All activities on this blog are intended to be performed with adult supervision. Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when activities call for the use of materials that could potentially be harmful, such as scissors, or items that could present a choking risk (small items), or a drowning risk (water activities), and with introducing a new food/ingredient to a child (allergies). Observe caution and safety at all times. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any of these activities on this blog.