There is something so tactile; responsive…almost therapeutic about home made play dough and half the fun is in the making of it and playing with it while it is still warm and fresh!
The following recipe can be made easily and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month or so for repeat play. I have been making it with my daughter since she was about 18 months old and now aged 3 she knows the recipe herself and often has all the required ingredients already out of the cupboard before I can get the mixing bowl out and put the kettle on to boil!
Ingredients & Method for Uncooked Play Dough
2 cups of plain flour (and a bit extra to use as ‘fairy dust’ for sprinkling on a table and kneading later)
1 cup of salt
4 tablespoons of Cream of Tartar (roughly half the container)
2 tablespoons of cooking oil
2 cups of boiling water
Food colouring optional
Just pop it all in the mixing bowl and mix…it really is as easy as that!
Initially it may look like it’s not going to mix well but after an initial rough mix with a wooden spoon just throw it onto a slightly floured (fairy dust sprinkled) table to knead and it will come together really nicely.
If you have little people helping then I suggest you let them pour all the ingredients with the exception of the boiling water and the food colouring into a bowl and mix them together. Then take the bowl away, pour the boiling water with a couple of drops of food colouring in yourself and stir in so that the mixture is warm not boiling hot…Then sprinkle the fairy dust on a table, turn the mixture on to it (divide as/if necessary) and let you little helper/s enjoy kneading the warm mixture until it is ready to play with.
Ideas for Play
If your child/children are new to play dough (and dependent on their age) the first thing they may want to do is put it in their mouth! My daughter only did this once aged about 1 year – I suspect it tasted too salty for her liking…but then she was quickly distracted and fascinated by the shapes I rolled and pressed and loved the warm feel of play dough squishing through her small fingers.
We quickly moved on to using a wooden roller, along with easily obtained kitchen utensils, lids etc to make patterns and press out shapes.
You are really only limited to your imagination but some of our favourite ideas these days follow:
♥ making pretend biscuits using real cookie cutter shapes (supervise children under 2 carefully) and placing them on a real baking tray before ‘decorating’ with all manner of objects such as assorted coloured buttons and glass beads, mini wooden pop sticks etc. etc…again only limited to your imagination but suggest you stick with objects that will not break down easily, are age appropriate and can be taken out of the play dough once play has finished ready to be reused next time.
♥ creating roads using toy trucks which leave real tracks and then making other ‘tracks’ after finding other toys objects which leave marks in the dough. The same can be done using fingers to leave ‘steps’.
♥ make a rainbow tree using a handprint/s pressed into rolled out dough as the leafy canopy, decorated with buttons etc as the tree’s flowers and real bark if you can easily find some as the stem. We have done this on occasions when we have made green play dough but it really doesn’t matter what colour you use.
♥ creating fun play dough creatures using simple rolled balls or blobs of play dough along with pipe cleaners, googly eyes, buttons & small wooden pop sticks for arms, legs, antennae, eyes, noses etc. We have taken photographs of some of our creations and cut them out at a later date, put a pop stick on the back and you have a unique creature puppet. It’s amazing the different creatures children come up with and this is a great activity for children of varied ages as they will all take the idea to different levels and enjoy seeing what each other create.
♥ making a play dough birthday cake and/or cup cakes by rolling the ‘cakes’ into cake sized shapes and placing in real paper patty pans, decorating with buttons etc and using wooden pop sticks as candles. Teddies and doll friends love play dough cake tea parties and children love making them and setting it all up …although it’s a good idea to restrict the area that play dough cakes are enjoyed or if weather permits set up outside. Play dough is very easy to clean up off hard surfaces but not so easy to get out of carpets!
We have hard floors throughout our house so some of my ideas may be messier than some of you will wish to go!!
♥ play dough is fun…simply rolling it into balls or long snake like shapes, pressing to make cups and bowls, kneading, cutting, pressing…making play dough blocks and building them into a tower, creating animals and a whole forest for them to hide in….you really are only limited to your imagination and it’s such a lovely thing to make with and enjoy with children…my daughter and I love it!