My friend Zene (a preschool teacher) makes the BEST play dough. It smells amazing. It’s the best texture. It’s easy to clean-up. And, it’s very FRUGAL and easy to make.
So I had Zene write up a post for you so you could become a homemade play dough pro, too:
As a preschool teacher, I make a few batches of play dough each year. Last year I made nearly 25 for a preschool conference being held at our school. Being frugal with play dough will pay off. Not only will you be able to make more batches, but you will be able to experiment with different colors and smells! My son’s favorite is blue. We like to use the blue raspberry flavored Jell-O for blue play dough. My preschool kids like any color, especially if it smells yummy!
Add color, smell or pizzazz to your play dough – Kool aid is the most inexpensive way to color AND add scent to your play dough. I prefer two packets for the most vibrant color. For my preschool conference I wanted a large variety of scents and used a cheap mango flavored Tang mix from Grocery Outlet that our family never got around to drinking. It was great for the play dough and smelled yummy! If you have extra drink mixes laying around (think Crystal Light, single use water flavorings, etc.) use them for play dough. If you are the type that doesn’t normally buy gross dye and sugar laden drink mixes, not to fear, use baking extracts. Orange, almond, rum at Christmas, use your imagination. Another great add-in is glitter. We like to put glitter in our green play dough in December, and in our white play dough in January. It adds depth and pizazz.
Play dough toys, tools – Play dough toys are a must, but they certainly don’t have to be bought. Break out the cookie cutters, rolling pins, spoons, potato masher, cups, melon baller, corn cob skewers, tooth picks, small toys to bury, use a butter knife for chopping, etc. You will be jealous that your kids get to have all the fun. Just beware of containers with little openings, play dough is really tough to fish out.
Clean-up tips – If you are worried about the kitchen table use a plastic table cloth or cutting board, but play dough wipes off very easily. Does your child wander around the house with play dough or does he/she stick it in weird places? That’s okay! As a preschool teacher, I’ve seen it all! There is no need to worry about play dough on your carpet. 75% of my preschool room is covered in carpet and we have NO play dough on it currently. It ALL comes off the next time you vacuum. If you find play dough on your carpet, pick up any large pieces, let it dry and vacuum. If there are any pieces left over, pick at it a bit with your finger or a butter knife and it will come right off. Play dough eventually dries and shrivels, so if it gets stuck in the tub faucet, outlet, belly button, it will come out. I had a preschool student stick it in her nose once, luckily at her own home! Doctors orders were to just wait till the nose cleaned itself out. This play dough happened to be bright green 😉 and all of it did come out.
Play dough recipe
1 cup flour
1 cup water
2 tablespoons oil (vegetable, canola)
1/2 cup salt
1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
Food coloring, Kool Aid, Jell-O or other colorful mix (prefer two packages of Kool-Aid for best color)
1 quart-sized Ziploc bag for storage
This is FAST and HOT so kids will not be able to help with this part. Mix ALL ingredients in a large pot stirring constantly over medium-high heat. You will need to keep the mixture moving so it doesn’t burn or cook unevenly. Stir until the dough pulls away from the sides. Turn off the heat and keep the pot ON the burner. Keep stirring the dough until it forms a ball. Remove dough from heat and let it cool to a comfortable touch. Don’t worry if there are small clumps of flour, they will knead out.
Heather’s Note – I grew up with my mother making our play dough, so I have a special place in my heart for it. I wanted to give this recipe a test run, so I made two batches yesterday (would have made more but ran out of salt!). My first batch I got distracted chatting with my sister on the phone and it got a little hot before I could stir it up – so I had more flour balls that needed to be worked in by hand. My second batch was at a lower heat with my undivided attention and it turned out PERFECT. I’m thinking it would be fun to make up a series of colors and wrap them up with some fun tools as a Christmas gift!
And just because I love sharing photos, here are some from when my son and I tested out the recipe. . .
If you have alphabet cookie cutters it can be a great way to have your kids practice their letters while also playing. I have a funny story about these cookie cutters pictured above – they came in a box of 100 cookie cutters that I bought in college. Yes, I bought a box of 100 misc. cookie cutters because I was looking for a heart cookie cutter to make heart-shaped cookies for my boyfriend at the time. I couldn’t find a heart cookie cutter (sold by itself) ANYWHERE in town – so I ended up buying a box of 100 for that one little heart cookie cutter inside. Not exactly frugal – but hey, I was in love. Little did I know that someday that boyfriend would become my husband and that I’d end up using those cookie cutters to play with our son. Okay – all at once, everyone say “Ahhhhh. . ..”
And while you are “ahhing” . . . this photo of my son is one of the many Mom-ents when I find myself caught off guard and get all teary-eyed and sentimental. I quickly forget all the Legos I step on or the messes I clean up. But I just stop and thank God for my blessings and my babies – who don’t seem to be staying babies very long. The days can sometimes be long – but the years sure do seem short. I’m so glad I captured it on camera, thanks for letting me share. . . I’m gonna go grab a tissue. . .
I’d love to hear from you if you make this recipe or you have other ideas for fun with play dough!
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Amazon has a great price on the Melissa & Doug Shape, Model and Mold – we have these tools and love them!