How to Make Play Dough at Home

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Miss A loves play dough. It’s one of those things that can keep her entertained for 1-2 hours at a time.


We make our own play dough because she goes through so much that it’s not worth buying them in store anymore! We usually use the recipe at the back of McKenzie’s Cream of Tartar jar. This is a recipe that requires cooking. There are no-cook recipes out there but honestly I think cooking makes for a nicer texture.

Play Dough Recipe

2 cups plain flour
4 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 cup salt
2 cups water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
Food colouring

Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat until it congeals. Add a little bit more flour if too wet or more water if too dry.

This recipe makes quite a lot of play dough (like 4-5 standard Playdoh tubs I’m thinking). You could probably cut the recipe in half if you don’t want to make too much or divide the dough up after cooking and use different food colourings to make different coloured play dough. I highly recommend using gloves if you’re kneading in the food colouring into the cooked dough rather than mixing it all up in the saucepan before cooking…unless having coloured hands for a day or two is your thing. I’m not hardworking enough to make different colours so my kid gets one big single-coloured lump of play dough. Put that imagination to good use, child! It can be whatever colour you want it to be in your mind!

At 3 years of age, Miss A is very capable of rolling the play dough into balls and logs and making things like snowmen and jewellery. She is also good at cutting and “drawing” with chopsticks, pencils and even her plastic comb which is her latest favourite tool to use on play dough!

More often than not, she makes food items- cakes, ice cream, lollipops etc. She has a little toy microwave oven which is great for pretending to cook/bake the goods. I often give her a handful of props/tools to use each time e.g. plastic plates and cups, egg trays, sticks etc. Plastic toys (simple baby toys or bath toys as they are easier to clean!) are also good for role playing. At this age, she usually makes up her own narrative and I just follow along.

Play dough is one of those things we’ve played with since she was young (maybe 18 months or possibly younger- I have an awful memory!) and it’s amazing seeing her fine motor skills grow and develop. Sure she can still make a big mess out of it in the end of the day (play dough “crumbs” all over the table and floor) but that 5 minutes of extra cleaning is worth all the hours of fun it provides! At least I no longer find play dough smooshed between book pages…that’s all I can ask for!

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