Saturday, March 5, 2011

Art Idea # 5 Home made Play dough and usage ideas

Basic Cooked Play Dough Recipe and play ideas

We did not create this recipe, most of the preschools I know use this recipe though because it is the best. I have no idea who originally created it or I would give them credit!

Keep it stored in an airtight container and it will last for at least a month. Some people store in it the refrigerator and that is probably a good idea, especially if it isn't played with all the time. We use this play dough every day in the classroom, it sits out on a table for at least an hour each day, is played with by many children and it lasts about a month.

Cooked Play Dough (Our basic playdough)

1 cup flour

¼ cup salt

2 Tablespoons Cream of tarter (important)

1 cup water

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Food color

Put all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, 2-4 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. When mixture pulls from side of pan and forms a ball in the center, remove pan from heat. Allow to cool a few minutes. Remove play dough and knead until smooth (will still be quite warm). Store in an airtight container.

Instead of food coloring, you can substitute a non sweetened package of koolaid to the pan before you start cooking the play dough, it will add a wonderful smell and color; but watch with young children as they may try to eat the play dough. There is nothing in this play dough that can harm a child, but it is best not to let children think it is OK to taste art materials in general.

This dough is soft and pliable and works great to help develop the fine motor skills children need to be able to hold a pencil, and scissors and have control of those muscles.

You do not need fancy play dough tools, raid your kitchen for fun, safe things to use with the play dough. I like to give the children a place mat (a fun kid design makes it special) to use as a work area. This helps children understand that the play dough stays here, and makes it feel special. Play dough should always be used in the same format, especially with young children, do not just leave it out for them to get into any time they want or you will find play dough stuck to your furniture, shoes, etc. Make it special to be allowed to use the play dough.

Toddlers: Play dough is great for toddlers, but either have them in their high chair and be nearby to supervise or join them in the fun of creating with play dough.


cookie cutters

rolling pin

plastic knife

straws, cut into pieces

melon baller

any non sharp kitchen utensil, (wooden spoon, rubber spatula, egg separator, etc.)

birthday candles, Popsicle sticks, clean rocks,

As you can see the ideas for things to add are pretty limitless, just make sure they are safe and clean.


Roll play dough into balls, stack them, cut them with the knife (make two halves, cut into thirds- math idea)

Roll play dough between your palms to make a long snake and form it into shapes, cut it into pieces, make alphabet letters out of it.

Learning to write names: some children have difficulty forming the letters with a pencil or crayon. Form the letters of their name with play dough (have them do it too) and often this helps give them a concrete connection to the letters in their name. It is amazing how many times they can then write the letters with more ease.

Play dough is an amazing substance, and I prefer this type to store bought as it is more pliable, softer and fun to create.

Special note: cream of tarter is a little expensive (it is in the spice section of the grocery store). You can use a little less, but w/o it the play dough does not have the same consistency.


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