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Refrigerator magnets using homemade modeling dough
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Thanksgiving and Fall CraftsFriday Fun

Fall and Thanksgiving
Refrigerator Magnets

What you will make:

See how easy it is to make seasonal refrigerator magnets for fall and Thanksgiving with Homemade Modeling Dough. Make a simple dough in less than 15 minutes, and use your fingers to shape fun, fanciful, or beautiful creations. Use the ideas offered here or create magnets of your own design.

This craft project requires few materials and is great for family, classroom or group craft time. The modeling dough can be made in advance and stored ready-to-use in the refrigerator.

Related craft: Use the modeling dough to make some fun and fanciful Pencil Toppers. See this project for more modeling shape ideas.

Here's what you need:
  • Wax paper
  • Small magnets and glue
  • Optional: Clear nail polish or varnish, black marker, yellow pipe cleaners (chenille stems)

This project is rated EASY to do.

How to Make Modeling Dough Refrigerator Magnets

Read all of the steps before starting.
Step 1: Project Preparation

Read through the project then gather the materials needed for making the magnets. Follow the craft recipe for Homemade Modeling Dough to make dough balls of red, yellow, orange and brown, or other colors best for the magnets you are making.

If doing this craft with a group, make one recipe of Homemade Modeling Dough for every three children. It's better to have too much than too little. Leftover modeling dough can be saved for weeks in the refrigerator. Instead of making modeling dough in a variety of colors, the magnets can be made with white dough and, after the magnets are dry, colored with markers or paint.

Step 2: Basic Modeling Technique

Spread a sheet of wax paper on the table so the dough won't stick.

Pinch off dough to make a small ball and leave the rest in a sealed container. Use fingers to shape your creation—see Modeling Ideas below. Attachments like caps and beaks can be shaped from smaller balls and glued in place with a dab of water. Use the toothpick to add features like leaf veins and eyes.

To make several balls of dough the same size, roll the dough into a long snake and cut into equal-sized pieces with the plastic knife. To make ¾" (1.5 cm) balls, roll the dough into a snake about ½" (1 cm) in diameter and cut into 1" (2 cm) segments.

Step 3: Dry and Seal Topper

When you have finished molding your magnet, leave it on the wax paper to dry. It should dry in a day or two to a hard finish. Magnets may be left plain or painted with clear nail polish or varnish for added durability and more vibrant colors. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area when using nail polish or varnish.

Glue a magnet to the back of each of your refrigerator magnets.

Modeling Ideas

This is just a start. What else can you make? Pumpkin or a slice of pumpkin pie? A candle? A pilgrim's hat? A cornucopia?

  • Acorn Magnet: Start with a ¾" (1.5 cm) ball of orange dough and use your fingers to create the acorn shape. Use a ¼" (.5 cm) ball of brown dough to shape the cap. Pull out a stem from the top of the cap. Put the cap on the acorn. Flatten the back to make a place for the magnet to be glued.
  • Fall Leaf Magnets: Start with a ¾" (1.5 cm) or larger ball of orange, yellow, red, or brown dough. Flatten the dough into a circle or oval—not too thin. Draw a leaf shape on the dough with the toothpick and use the plastic knife to cut away excess dough. Smooth the edges with your fingers. Make leaf veins by pressing the toothpick into the dough. Let dry, and then glue a magnet on the back.
  • Turkey: Make a flat turkey to use as a magnet. Shape the body from brown dough. Add a small yellow beak and a red gobbler (wattle). Make the tail from orange dough by creating a fan-shape. Put the tail on the body. Use the toothpick to make eyes and feathers on the body and tail. If you like, add some legs using yellow pipe cleaner. Let dry, then glue a magnet on the back.

Tip: Modeling dough magnets can be heavy and it is easy to jar a magnet loose when opening and closing the refrigerator door. Use individual magnets meant for crafts for the best results.

That's it! Your magnets are ready for the refrigerator!
Sample refrigerator magnets

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Before you start:
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read all of the directions.
  • Gather everything you need to do the project.
  • Think about the project. Imagine how it will look and what you will do with it.

Are you ready?
Okay, get started!!!

Arrange magnets on refrigerator

Tip: Use several magnets to create an arrangement of magnets on the refrigerator. This is an easy way to decorate for Thanksgiving!

Tips for teachers...

Fifth grade teacher Begona C. shares how she uses this craft in her classroom during a 45 minute period.

"I gave each of the students the Homemade Modeling Dough 3 days before our art project so they could bring play dough from home. The general comment was that the students added 1 cup of flour instead of ¾ cup (so did I at home) and the play dough turned out firm, but not sticky. The neat part is, I have a vent heater in our classroom and we were able to place the pieces there to dry. The next day we markered and painted our magnets. The students and I had a wonderful time."

Use markers to add details to the dried magnets

Tip: After the refrigerator magnets are dry, use permanent markers to add details.

Related craft: Make Pencil Toppers using Homemade Modeling Dough or use the modeling ideas in that project to make refrigerator magnets.

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