Friday, May 7, 2010

Make it: Homemade Play Dough

With summer vacation looming over our heads I need to think up some ideas to entertain my children. I need fun ideas. I need ideas that should keep them busy for a little while. I need cheap ideas!

Both of my boys love Play Dough. I'm talking all out love it. Often we have pretend dinners out to dine on Play Dough spaghetti and meatballs or sometimes we build elaborate Play Dough cities only to have a giant monster (read: action figure) come and pulverise the town to bits. And at the end of all of this fun play we are always left with the same thing: a big pile of mixed together brown dough.

I get it, Play Dough is relatively cheap... if you're buying just one can of it. But to get enough colors to make it worth while can be pricey, especially if your family is like ours and mixes those colors together within two minutes of taking it out that bright yellow container.

Oh, and my three year old likes to eat it ... did I mention that?

Last summer we made our very own Play Dough and it was not only a hit, but it was cheap. And when the colors get all mixed up again, getting some new fresh play dough is as easy as a trip to the kitchen. Oh, and if you're three year old eats it ... it's ok!


2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 cups cold water
Food coloring (the gel kind makes the colors more vibrant I've learned)
Plastic containers for storage


1. In a medium saucepan, mix together the flour, salt, vegetable oil, cream of tartar, and water. (If you're feeling frisky, try adding a few drops of vanilla or peppermint extract to make your Play Dough smell good)

2. Cook uncovered over medium heat, for about 5 minutes. Stir constantly until the dough is the consistency of mashed potatoes.

3. Divide the dough into four equal portions. (Want to make 8 different colors? Then double the recipe.)

4. Add food coloring to each portion and knead the color into the dough to distribute it evenly until you reach your desired color. Kneading the color into the dough is the fun part -- your kids will love it!

5. If you store the play dough in a Ziploc bag or airtight container, it will stay nice and soft and last for years.

Note: Just like the stuff out of those yellow containers at the store the homemade Play Dough will be a bit sticky for it's first use. Kneading and play will make it more pliable.


  1. I also heard about adding a little Kool Aid for some fragrance. I will definitely be trying this! Thank you!

  2. This is great- I've been wanting to try the gel. Thanks so much, I'll be linking.

  3. I just found this post by accident and think the recipe is amazing - perfect for the school holidays that start tomorrow, I will try it out with my 2- and 4-year old!


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