Homemade Play Dough Recipe: DIY Kids Craft Idea

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Homemade play dough? DIY kids crafts? Who me? When it comes to arts and crafts with my 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Kate, I prefer easy activities that don’t involve glue or massive quantities of glitter... or lots of work. Spending a lot of time making ingredients or supplies and cleaning up glue and glitter for weeks isn't my idea of fun at all. Can you relate?

So, when Kate’s preschool class sent around a recipe for homemade molding clay, my first thought was: "Homemade Play Dough? Isn't PlayDoh cheap? Can't I buy that anywhere and therefore, not have to make it myself?"

Molding Clay Picture

PlayDoh and other brands of molding clay is easy to find and it’s not expensive. But since I signed up to be the classroom’s play dough contributor for the month, I figured I’d give it a try.

Quick and Easy Homemade Play Dough Recipe

An awesome part about this DIY play dough recipe is you probably already have all these ingredients in your pantry, making this one of those crafts you can whip up when the troops are restless and you’re staring down the barrel of a long afternoon. Another great thing about this craft is it comes together quickly. Nothing too time intensive. But the best part? Kids can help you make it. I had Kate help me measure the ingredients, so she felt involved in the process. What's better than a kids craft that is both fun and educational?



Here’s what you need:

  • 3 cups flour (all purpose)
  • 1 ½ cups salt (table salt)
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar (Don’t skip this! It’s important!)
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 4-5 tablespoons oil (Canola or vegetable oil)
  • Food coloring (Optional! I prefer Wilton brand food coloring.)


Follow these steps to make the play dough:

  1. To cook the play dough, use a large, non-stick pot.  I like to coat the non-stick pot in some cooking spray to make sure the playdough doesn’t stick to the bottom and sides of the pot.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together in the large pot and place it over the stovetop.
  3. Mix the liquid ingredients together and add to dry ingredients; turn the stove on medium heat.
  4. Mix well with a wooden spoon then switch to a whisk until the mixture becomes very smooth.
  5. Cook over medium heat until liquid disappears and it gets “dough-y” (3-5 minutes or so).
  6. After the playdough comes together and starts to look like mashed potatoes, remove the pot from heat and dump the mixture out onto a non-stick surface (like a marble or glass countertop or parchment paper.)
  7. Let the dough cool for a few minutes. It will be very hot. After it cools, knead it until it comes together into a firm ball.
  8. (Optional) If you want colorful play dough, add the food coloring after cooking the dough; this will produce a fun marbling effect. The more you work the play dough, the more you will fully incorporate the color.


This recipe makes a giant batch of playdough, and it will keep for about a month sealed in an air tight container or in a plastic bag with a tight seal.

I found several packs of play dough toys at Michael’s Craft Store ranging from $0.99 to $6.00. I bought Kate alphabet shapes, number shapes, a rolling pin, animals shapes, etc. I also gave her some plastic knives and forks and child scissors so she could practice cutting.


For a few dollars and less than 15 minutes, you can make your own playdough that, in my opinion, far outweighs store bought play dough. Homemade molding clay offers a nicer consistency and feel that store-bought play dough and the homemade variety doesn’t have that plastic-y smell like the store bought stuff.

Oh, and one quick tip:  If your preschooler is helping you by fetching ingredients, make sure he or she grabs flour and not powdered sugar.  I might have made my first batch mistakenly using powdered sugar. That does not work ;)!


Have you made homemade play dough? Any tips and tricks?

Sarah Bagley is a wife, mother, and owner of a garbage-eating coonhound. She love getting up early, the color orange, and strong coffee. When she’s not chasing her toddler, she’s blogging (, freelance writing, and teaching group fitness classes.

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Sarah Bagley is a wife, mother, and owner of a garbage-eating coonhound. She's a recovering perfectionist who believes being B+ is totally good enough and produces a weekly podcast where she interviews guests about what being B+ means to them. Sarah love getting up early, the color orange, and strong coffee.

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