Homemade PlayDough Recipe That’s Toddler-Tested, Preschool–Approved

Toddler fingers touch homemade playdough
Photo woodleywonderworks|CC

This recipe for playdough — used by preschools across the country – creates the perfect modeling clay every toddler, preschooler, and child loves. Toddler activities with play dough help develop gross and fine motor skills, to develop their imagination, and to experiment with problem-solving solutions.

Girl playing with homemade playdough
Photo MCA / Mike Allyn|CC

HOMEMADE PLAYDOUGH RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water tinted with food coloring (use plenty)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions: Cook over medium heat and stir (about 3-5 min). It will look like a blobby mess and you’ll be sure it’s not turning out, but it will! Cool and store in an airtight container or plastic bag.

(Note: You can double or triple the recipe, but use a really big pot!)

PLAY DOUGH VARIATIONS

  • Citrus Play Dough: Add a few drops of essential oil, Lemon or Orange, for a summertime smell
  • Pumpkin Pie Play Dough: Add a teaspoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice, or a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg
  • Gingerbread Play Dough: Add a teaspoon of Ginger and Allspice.

FOOD SCIENCE OF PLAYDOUGH

  • Cream of tartar is a natural acidic salt (not an artificial preservative) that improves how well the dough stretches without getting crumbly (called elasticity) and also helps prevent mildew and mold from growing in your dough. For the best play dough, do not omit or substitute cream of tartar.
  • Salt acts as a preservative. Without the salt, you’ll just make bread dough, which would quickly spoil.
  • Oil gives play dough it’s smooth, glossy feel.
  • Heat is essential to bind the play dough ingredients together. No-cook recipes create play dough which is more gummy, and does not last as long. The cooked version is WAY better.

HELPFUL TIPS & FUN FACTS ABOUT PLAYDOUGH

  • Colorful Tubs of Playdoh
    Photo dbrekke|CC

    Remember, toddlers will try to eat play dough! The salty taste will quickly discourage them, but remember not to add anything that isn’t edible.

  • Re-fresh your playdough often to prevent spreading illness.  Germs (viruses and bacteria) can live for days in play dough.
  • Keep play dough away from pets. Dogs and cats may love the smell, but due to the high salt content, it is harmful for pets if ingested.
  • When attempting to remove play dough from fabric or carpet do NOT use water. Instead, allow it to dry completely, and then loosen with a stiff brush and pick up the dry pieces.
  • More than 2 billion cans of HASBRO’S PLAY-DOH have been sold since 1956.
  • HASBRO’S PLAY-DOH is mostly flour, salt, and water — but with extra additives such as lubricants, hardeners, preservatives, coloring, and fragrance