Your Own Safe Homemade Playdough

March 14, 2020

Playdough is a childhood staple for play and as I have gained more education in fine motor skills with occupational therapy, the more I am so thankful I grew up loving the squishy and moldable fun that is play dough. Playdough is not lust for squishing (which is great for using various arm muscles and shoulder stability); you can also roll in into snakes or balls for pressure grading with fine motor skills, use with cookie cutters for shape recognition, or cut with a knife for utensil practice.
I remember trying to make a few recipes growing up with my mom in our kitchen that required cooking, but as a kid, it took too long with the cooking on the stove and dried out so easily!

Here is my simple playdough recipe I have adapted and I love because you don’t have to cook it, so you can make it in almost every setting…home, in a class, outside, anywhere!! Like most cooking I do, I have a base recipe, but for some items I put in a little more or less with not fully accurate measurements… just do what feels right with the color and oils!!

Safe Homemade Playdough

For individual dough per kid: 1/2 cup flour (any kind should work) 1/8 cup salt – I have a 1/4 cup so I measure out and then split 1 tablespoon cream of tartar (optional, but I always use it!) 1/4 cup warm water Food coloring Essential oils (optional)

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Combine water, food coloring (to desired darkness), and essential oil (number of drops varies based on oil, like stronger peppermint only needs one drop, where I used 8 of lavender to get the desired scent) in another bowl or measuring cup. Mixing all the wet ingredients first makes is so less of the food coloring gets on your hands when you mix!

Slowly pour the wet into the dry while mixing consistently. It can be a two person job, so have you kid help out in either pouring (for eye/hand coordination work) or stirring (for upper body strengthening and stability). You may need to add a bit more flour as you stir if it still looks sticky. Once mostly combined with the flour, switch from spoon to your hands and smoosh!!

I have made this recipe using both bowls and quart-sized ziploc bags, and both options work well. With the bags, you can premeasure, so this option is best for if you have multiple kids making at the same time to eliminate the extra step and have it all more contained.

After making, keep your dough in a baggie and it will last…I still have some I made back in October that is fresh and moldable! Have fun with your own safe (and scented) play dough!

About Alli

Alli Carbone, MS, OTR/L, CCYT, is a pediatric occupational therapist that specializes in using yoga for sensory processing skills and education for the whole family.