Who doesn’t love to play with play dough? It’s relaxing, let’s you get creative and mistakes just aren’t possible because all it takes is a squish of your masterpiece to start all over again! Play like this reminds me so much of my childhood (I say that a lot… but it does) and each time I see this material I think back to working the play dough magic at our kitchen table. My father was a master artist in my mind. Turns out, he actually still is as I watch him create tiny creatures to amuse my daughter out of this amazing stuff. My sister and I used the tiny tubs of colourful clay that were often given as gifts for a birthday. Peeling the cover off of one of those tubs for the first time…. aaaaaamazing. The tiny imprint of the backward logo pressed into the top. Can’t you just see it now?

Turns out you can actually MAKE YOUR OWN PLAY DOUGH. I know… took me being a parent and daycare provider to figure this one out.

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Sure, you can go out and buy Play Doh (link to finding online here). There is no denying that product is well loved, and comes in more colours than you could imagine. But my daughter and the daycare children I spend my day with love to help me in the kitchen and making our own play dough is a great activity to keep us all busy, talk math and science and practice skills like pouring and stirring. This in itself makes a great STEAM activity (for more information on what STEAM is and how to implement it at home, check out my blog post here), is easy with the products you have around the house (more about that here) and is super cost efficient. Win-win-win!

There are soooooo many recipes online, but here is one we found and gravitate toward (mostly because I have it memorized and often have these items on hand).

Homemade Playdough Recipe:

2 Cups of Flour

2 Tbsp of Oil (whatever cooking oil you have a little extra of around the house –  coconut oil, vegetable oil, olive oil)

1/2 Cup of Salt

2 Tbsp Cream of Tartar

1 1/2 Cup Hot Water

Let’s get messy!

  1. Pour flour into a bowl and add salt.
  2. Mix in Cream of Tartar. You can find this in just about any grocery store or here online.
  3. Add oil and mix. I like coconut oil because afterward our hands feel silky smooth, but it’s all about preference and what you happen to have.
  4. Pour in the hot water. I often take over here for a quick second until the water mixes with some of the other ingredients and cools down… too hot for tiny hands at first.
  5. Mix all the ingredients together until they form the dough. Voila!

Take it to the next level:

This is an added activity to talk about colour mixing and blending. What colours mix together to make new colours? So much fun and in no time you have a little lesson about prime and secondary colours (Thank you to my friend Dorothy for teaching me about the mysterious colour wheel, while we were doing our B.Ed ♥)

We also add a little flavour to this from time to time. Great way to make it festive: cinnamon or mint makes for a lovely smelling dough, pumpkin spices in the fall (thank you to my cousin Danielle for this amazing idea ♥), or leave it plain for noses that are more sensitive.

I sometimes knead the dough to mix the colours or fragrance in as it takes a bit of work, stains your hands and possibly the surface your working on… but in the spirit of STEAM (see more on that here), I usually just let them go for it and see what happens!

The dough can last for quite a little while if you keep it covered when not in use, such as a plastic bag or container. I keep our home play dough a little bit longer but tend to have the daycare play dough move along after just a few uses for the potential spreading of germs.

We often use standard food colouring but I’ve heard of people using the gel food colouring that is used for cake decorating, with brilliant results. If you have any other strategies that you use, feel free to share below! I’d love to hear from you. ♥

Check out a recent fun activity we did with play dough here: Playing for Earth Day

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