In How-To

How to Make Playdough at Home

Fancy toys and electronic gadgets may come and go, but playdough remains a favorite pastime activity for children year after year. What makes playdough so appealing? Children love toys that foster their imagination and creativity, and playdough fits that description to a “T.” This moldable, squishy dough allows kids to create their favorite cartoon characters, build spaceships, create cities, make pretend meals and more.

Although colorful playdough can be easily bought at most any store, parents are discovering how easy it is to make playdough of their own at home. By conducting a simple Internet search on how to make playdough, you’ll discover a number of easy recipes. There are recipes for how to make playdough with or without cooking, and with or without flour.

How Do You Make Playdough?

There are dozens of playdough recipes online, not to mention those you can find in arts and crafts magazines and books. Parents and teachers often have their favorite recipes which they are more than happy to share. Some recipes require cooking the ingredients and others don’t. Some recipes can even be eaten if your children want, but not all.

Most homemade recipes for playdough use basic ingredients that most parents have in their kitchen. Before attempting to make your own, go over the recipe and make sure you have all the ingredients on hand. This saves time and frustration in missing a key ingredient and not being able to finish your project. Here are five recipes for how to make playdough at home to get you started.

1. Simple Cooked Playdough


1 cup each water and flour

1 tablespoon each oil and cream of tartar

½ cup salt

Food coloring


Combine water, oil, cream of tartar, salt and food coloring in a pan and heat until these ingredients are warm. Take your mixture off the stove. Add flour and stir until it becomes dough. Knead dough until it’s nice and smooth. By adding cream of tartar to this recipe, your dough will stay fresh for up to 6 months. Store in a Ziploc plastic bag in between usage.

2. Simple Uncooked Playdough


3 cups flour

1 cup each cold water and salt

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons oil

Food coloring


Mix water, oil, salt and food coloring in a bowl. Add cornstarch and flour gradually to your mixture until it becomes dough. Knead the dough to the consistency you desire. Ideally, the dough should be easy to work with but not stick to a child’s fingers. This is an example of how to make playdough without cooking.

3. Salt Playdough


1 cup each water and salt

½ cup flour

Additional flour for consistency


Mix water, salt and flour in a pan. Cook on medium heat until mixture thickens into a rubbery paste. Take off heat and let cool. Knead your mixture, adding extra flour to make it reach the desired consistency.

4. Oatmeal Playdough


Flour, water, oatmeal


Combine one part each flour and water to 2 parts of oatmeal in a bowl. Knead until your mixture is smooth and dough is the consistency you desire. Oatmeal playdough is perhaps one of the easiest recipes to make. However, it doesn’t last as long as other recipes. The dough will need to be stored in the fridge when not in use.

5. Peanut Butter Playdough


2 cups of peanut butter

6 tablespoons of honey

Milk powder

Cocoa powder (optional for flavor)


Mix all your ingredients at once in a medium size bowl. Gradually add milk powder for the consistency you desire. For chocolate flavored playdough, add cocoa powder. This yummy edible recipe is an example of how to make playdough without flour.

Fun Activities and Ideas with Playdough

There are literally hundreds of playtime activities kids can do with playdough. Children of all ages can enjoy the creative play that this product has to offer. Once you’ve learned how to make your own playdough, the sky’s the limit on how your kids can incorporate it into their play. Here’s a list of options you and your kids may want to explore:

  • Role play cooking by creating playdough cakes, cookies, lollipops and other delightful treats
  • 3D creatures to include bugs, farm or jungle animals, butterflies, dinosaurs, snakes, monsters, etc.
  • Towers, cities, farms, roads, tunnels and bridges, space stations and more
  • Science projects to include spaceships, model of the solar system, earth layers, robots
  • Playdough jewelry, flowers, beads, mosaics and paintings
  • Playdough people and faces

The Educational Aspect of Playdough

Playdough is not only entertaining and fun, but educational as well. For this reason, it’s readily found in most daycare centers and early learning environments. In the classroom, teachers can use playdough time to encourage kids to communicate with each other, socialize, practice math and motor skills, and unleash their creativity. Here are a few ways in which this dough can be of educational value:

Language Development

Playdough time provides opportunities for kids to interact with each other which enhances their listening and speaking skills. If you carefully observe children working with play dough around a table, you’ll see how talkative they can be. As they get into their projects, kids will begin to describe what they’re making, what colors they’re using, what their character can do, etc. These interactions help kids to develop socialization and communication skills.


By including your kids in the recipe making process, they can practice pouring, counting and measuring skills. During play, they’ll touch on such concepts as colors, amounts, size and shapes in discussing their projects. You can teach young kids to count by encouraging them to make play dough apples or balls to fill a basket, stars for a night time picture or cupcakes for a pretend bake sale.


Teachers or parents can help older children make playdough planets for a mobile solar system or different type of fish and animals for an under the sea theme. If kids are into sci-fi, encourage them to make an army of robots of different shapes and sizes. Several kids could join together to make a monster dough computer. With a little imagination, you can easily incorporate science themes into their play.

Fine Motor Skills

Playing with playdough requires quite a bit of kneading, punching, rolling, cutting, poking and shaping to make cool projects. In the process, kids hone their fine motor and coordination skills. Their hand muscles will get plenty of exercise, that’s for sure.

Social Skills

Playdough has much to offer as a social skills. In addition to free play, teachers can encourage greater emotional and social development among their students by suggesting ideas for projects kids can work on together. Kids could make a playdough mural for their classroom, create a flower garden or build a huge playdough city that can be displayed in a corner of the classroom. The kids can volunteer to make different aspects of the project or work in groups to get the project done. Class projects require that kids talk about details, express their opinions and make decisions together on how to get things done. This encourages teamwork and cooperation along with creative play. Once the project is done, kids can take pride in what they have accomplished.

There’s more to playdough than meets the eye. This favorite household pastime has been used as a learning tool for years in kindergartens and early learning centers. While some would question the worth of this sometimes gooey, squishable toy, the fact is that playdough helps children learn many valuable skills.

Naturally, playdough is not just something used for education. It is great fun for young and old alike. Playdough activities are easy to incorporate into special events such as birthday parties, holiday fun or family gatherings and can keep kids occupied for hours. Even teens and adults can join in on the fun.

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