I do not know of one child that has not enjoyed playing with playdough (play-doh) at one point in their life.
Playdough is versatile, generates creative play, can be pulled, squashed, rolled, cut and even tampered with but still used over and over again. It can be colored red, pink, green, yellow, blue or any color of the rainbow.
Not only is it cheap and easy to make, but when stored in an air-tight container it can last for several weeks – if not longer.
This is a tried and tested, fool-proof recipe with some fun creative ideas for your children to try when you next make a colorful batch.
If you prefer not to ‘cook’ your playdough or want to avoid store-bought food dye there are some alternative suggestions also provided.
Most of all, have fun.
This recipe requires an element of stovetop cooking and uses salt, as per traditional methods.
- 2 Cups Plain Flour, Use Wheat Flour if allergies exist
- 1 Cup Salt, Regular Table Salt
- 4 Teaspoons Cream of Tartar
- 2 Cups Water
- A Few Drops Food Coloring, (Optional)
Your saucepan will clean up very easily if you let it soak with hot water immediately.
Non Cook Playdough Method
If you prefer to make this without the use of the stove top, follow the same method, mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a wooden spoon and stir until combined and then knead.
- Place a non-stick pot or saucepan over a low heat on the stove.
- Place all of the dry ingredients in and commence adding water a little at a time. Stir with a wooden spoon.
- At this point you will need to add your food dye. A few drops. This will mean that the entire batch will be the color of your choice. If you prefer to leave your playdough natural at this point, and make small batches of different colors, wait until the end.
- Cook over a low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture starts to congeal and gets too sticky to stir. It will be like a thick dough texture.
- The mix should be sticky but not ‘wet’.
- Take pot off the heat.
- Dust a little flour onto a dry clean bench and remove all of the playdough from pot and commence kneading it with your hands. Continue to knead until it is smooth. It should only take a few minutes.
NOTE: If you have not yet added in food dye to your batch, you can now add it in whilst kneading. If you want to make small batches of different colors, break the playdough into smaller rounds, and push your thumb into the centre, place a few drops of dye in the centre and slowly knead it through. This is a messier option however and you may want to wear gloves as the dye can color your skin.
Make your own food dye
If you do not like the idea of using store-bought food coloring have a try at making some yourself.
Here are some suggestions:
- Use 1 cup of Raspberries with one cup of water for Pink
- Use 2 teaspoons of turmeric and a cup of water for Yellow
- Use 1 cup of blueberries and a cup of water for Purple
For any colour choice, add the ingredients and mix over a low heat once brought to a boil for approximately 20 minutes.
Obviously 1 cup of liquid, even after it has evaporated, will generate more food colouring than than you will probably ever want to use so share with your friends. Once drained and cooled, add to mixture as per original recipe.
Remember though that this may make the playdough more enticing to eat due to its fragrance so more care should be taken.
Benefits of Playdough
The benefits of playdough are almost endless. Here are a few I know of:
- Encourages imaginative play
- There is no right or wrong
- Provides hours of entertainment
You can make animals, pizzas, cakes, balls, snakes, towers, sausages, rainbows…all pretend of course. Make hand and foot prints. Shape into numbers and letters.
Playdough can be pulled and poked and made into almost any shape imaginable. Try using some of the following things to aid your children with their playdough fun and see what creative ‘monsters’ they can come up with.
- cupcake / muffin papers
- old advent calender molds
- minature rolling pin
- plastic spoons and forks (supervised if necessary)
- icy-pole sticks
- twigs and leaves from the garden to create impressions
- biscuit cutters and shapes
- plastic animals
- dry pasta or noodles
- plastic cups or bowls
A word of warning
Keep away from the mouths of animals in particular due to the high salt content.
Obviously this extends to children also but they are more inclined to spit it out due to its taste.