Making homemade play dough is a rainy day favorite around here. By using the cheapest generic brands, you can make about 5 bucks worth of store-bought for about a quarter. This is fabulous because when you have really little ones playing with it, there’s no need to worry if it ends up in their mouth. Also, if it is left out and dries up, more can be easily made. Many different versions exist out there, including ones using peanut butter or tempera paint, but here is my favorite along with a few tips which I added from my own trial (but mostly error).
If you make this on a rainy day, there is a chance you may need a little more flour or a little less water.
Give the flour a chance to soak up the water before assuming you need more flour.
If you use a larger amount of liquid food coloring in order to make a deep color, you may need to decrease the amount of water.
Folding gel coloring into the dough, although messy, after it is turned out onto your kneading surface will result in more vibrant colors and the ability to make several colors from one batch.
If the batch turns out runny, it is possible you didn’t let the water get hot enough before adding the flour.
If you leave the objects out overnight or for a few days, they harden and become great models or ornaments.
Glitter and extracts (for the scent) are fun additions, too.
A word of warning: Both play dough recipes on this site are non-toxic, but they are not meant to be eaten. I recently learned of a family dog who died from consuming a similar salt-dough meant for children’s handprint keepsakes and ornaments. Be sure to keep this away from your beloved pets.
1 cup water
1/2 cup salt
1 Tablespoon cream of tartar (optional)
1 Tablespoon oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
food coloring (I use the gel form)
In larger stainless steel saucepan, add water, salt, cream of tartar, oil and gel or liquid food coloring. Heat until just almost boiling.
Stir in flour for a minute or two with a metal spoon.
Turn out dough onto work surface (I use a small bamboo cutting board) and knead until soft and well mixed.
If you haven’t added food coloring yet, divide dough into sections and add gel food coloring with a toothpick and knead.
My very own play dough factory…
I have recently found a second recipe that I like. We go through a whole lot of play dough around here and my son usually wants a multitude of colors. I liked this recipe because it is easy to make smaller portions of every wanted color without heating up a pot. I also learned that using a stand mixer to combine the ingredients worked brilliantly! Very easy to add a smidge more water to make it all come together into a nice, soft ball. This recipe comes from Layers of Learning.
1/4 cup warm tap water
1/8 cup salt
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup flour
In a small bowl mix the water and the salt, then add the oil and the food coloring, stir.
Now add any scents you like (Cinnamon, vanilla, and maple will color your dough or you can add Kool-aid, essential oils or mint extract. If you choose Kool-aid, you don’t need the food coloring.)
Add glitter if you like.
Now stir in the one cup of flour. Add a little more flour if the dough is not firm enough or if its sticky.
Use your mixer!
The finished product
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