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How to Make Homemade Play Dough

Updated on August 12, 2014
Play dough eggs in a nest.
Play dough eggs in a nest. | Source

A recipe for making homemade play dough.

As a nanny, I am constantly trying to come up with new activities for small children that will keep them occupied while exercising their creativity. One of my recent triumphs was good old homemade play dough. I made this play dough at home one evening and took it along to my job the next day. It kept the eighteen-month-old entertained for a good thirty minutes. I don't advertise activities as "Will keep child entertained for hours," because I know about the attention span of little kids. However, I was pleased to find that this play dough was really a hit and my little charge enjoyed playing with it for half an hour.

My mom used to make this for us when we were children, and we spent a lot of time rolling, squeezing, and otherwise messing with the dough. We had cookie cutters for making shapes. Once my mom discovered a whole bag full of cookie cutters at a garage sale and we really had a heyday. Later, after I had outgrown the play-clay stage, she found a play dough press that could be used to make spaghetti, "hair," and other amazing formations. Other tools we used a lot were a toy rolling pin, forks, table knives, and toothpicks.

Homemade Play Dough Recipe

1 cup flour

1/4 cup salt

2 tablespoons cream of tartar

1 cup water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil or canola oil

2 tsp. food coloring (optional)


Mix flour, salt, and cream of tartar. Add water, oil, and food coloring. Stir constantly in kettle on stovetop over medium heat for three to five minutes, or until the mixture is too thick to stir. Remove from heat. Allow it to cool for a little bit, then knead it for several minutes with your hands to make sure it is soft and pliable.The dough should not be sticky. If it is, sprinkle some flour over it and knead and work in the flour. Depending on how long you stirred it, you may have to add more flour to the dough and work it in to make it nice and smooth. Store the finished play dough in an airtight container.

Tips for Making and Using Homemade Play Dough

  • Food coloring is optional, but it makes the play dough more colorful and fun. We liked pink and green colors the best when I was a child. When I made play dough this last time, I didn't have any food coloring on hand, so I worked in a little paprika to give it a hint of color.
  • This play dough is made from regular food ingredients, so it isn't toxic if your child eats a little bit, but it doesn't taste that great and is not intended to be eaten.
  • Use household tableware, utensils, cups, and other objects to make unique designs in the dough.
  • Use your imagination and you can make all kinds of shapes. We like to make bowls and pots with long coils of play dough "rope." Bird nests complete with eggs are another favorite.
  • Store the play dough in a zip lock bag or air tight container, and put it away as soon as you are finished playing with it, since it dries out if left out for too long.

Play dough is so much fun to squish!
Play dough is so much fun to squish! | Source


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    • katedonavon profile image

      katedonavon 5 years ago

      You're welcome, cabmgmnt, and thanks for the link!

    • cabmgmnt profile image

      Corey 5 years ago from Northfield, MA

      I love playdough and this hub shares an easy recipe. Thanks.

    • katedonavon profile image

      katedonavon 6 years ago

      Thanks for reading and voting, justmesuzanne!

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 6 years ago from Texas

      Always fun! Voted up and useful! :)

    • katedonavon profile image

      katedonavon 6 years ago

      Thanks, Shesabutterfly! I like the texture of the homemade stuff too.

    • Shesabutterfly profile image

      Cholee Clay 6 years ago from Wisconsin

      I love homemade play dough! You get the great fun of play dough without that play dough smell:) Great hub!

    • katedonavon profile image

      katedonavon 6 years ago

      Thanks for the comment, Ed Michaels! I'm always happy to hear that the directions I give make sense to other people too. :)

    • Ed Michaels profile image

      Ed Michaels 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      I have done this at home with my five year old son. He prefers home-made dough to the store- bought kind because he has a role in making it, as well as the messy joy of squishing and molding it. Good, clear directions and advice.