It looking like it was going to be a dreary, rainy day on Saturday so I thought I would make some Play Dough (Playdoh) for my two year old daughter, Ysabella. I remember at least one occasion that m mom made homemade play dough for me when I was growing up and I think it’s imprinted in my brain that ‘it’s a mom thing to do’. I’ve made play dough a couple times myself: one time I was playing Cranium and we realized the clay was too dried out to use so I threw some salt, flour, water and food colouring on my counter top and mixed it up, and another time I made some for Bella using that basic recipe that I had in my head from my childhood. This particular Saturday morning though, not being in any hurry, I thought I’d research a better recipe – mine had been a little grainy and dried out really quickly.
Of all the recipes I came across, the best one was this no cook recipe from “Our Red House” blog. I made a couple little changes, but you can see the original recipe here. I had three stainless steel bowls going at once, so that I could make three colours. The following recipe is enough for one batch of one colour. I ended up with tons of it, so I split it into containers and gave a set to two other toddlers that live in my building. If you are just making some for your family (1 or 2 kids) and want several colours, I would suggest doing HALF of the recipe, per colour.
- 2 cups flour
- 2-4 tbs Cream of Tartar (because I made three batches, I only had enough for 2 tbs in each and it worked fine)
- 2 tbs oil
- 1 cup salt
- optional – 10-20 drops food colouring (depends on the colour you want to achieve)
- optional – 1/2 – 1 tsp of fragrant or essential oils (you may want to skip this part if you are worried about kids eating it, but it’s a really nice touch. I used watermelon for the pink, bubblegum for the blue and lemon for the yellow.)
- optional - body safe sparkles
- 2 cups boiling water
Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and blend. Add fragrance and colour. Pour boiling water over dry ingredients and stir with a big spoon. I’m sure you can do this in a stand mixer, but I didn’t think of it at the time. If you are making several batches at once, add the boiling water to all of hem, then stir each one, taking turns. The mixture is really hot at this point, so it’s not safe for little helpers yet. Leave the lumpy mass to cool for a little bit, and don’t worry if the colour isn’t at all mixed in yet. When it is cool enough to handle, knead until it makes a soft, smooth dough and all the colour is mixed in. At this point, you can get some help from little hands.
I split each batch into three balls, put each ball into a plastic Zip-lock bag and put that bag into a container. I’m sure some plain old Tupperware will work too. I’m definitely going to make some Satsuma orange, melon green and grape scented purple! My daughter never really puts things in her mouth but if this is a concern for your little one, consider investing in some food safe flavour oils or using a Kool-Aid drink mix pouch for the colour and flavour. Personally, I think it might come back to bite you if you let your toddler eat the play dough when you make the special handmade stuff because they may not know that the play dough at daycare or friends houses might not be edible. I’m sure the stuff won’t taste that great anyway, I’d imagine it would be very salty.
*NOTE: The Cream of Tartan is a pretty important ingredient in this recipe. Not only does it change the pH of the play dough, extending it’s shelf life, but it also makes the texture nice and smooth (the salt can make it quite grainy). I used half the recommended amount because that all I had on hand, and it turned out lovely, but in the interest of an extended shelf life, I’ll aim for the whole 4 tbsp. from now on.
Hope you enjoy making this for your kids! It would make a great gift too, and I am going to a toddler birthday party at the end of this month so I may make a bigger batch with more colours and some accessories as a birthday present so check back for updated pictures!