Making Homemade Play Dough

Recently, I threw all parental up-tightness and caution to the wind and did something crazy:

I let the kids make their own play dough.

It was messy, it was frugal, and oh-all-right the kids had fun doing it. The upside was that I got to stand and take pictures. ๐Ÿ™‚

How to make homemade play dough:


  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • liquid food coloring
  • extra flour

Step 1: Mix the food color into the water.

Our supplies (and the laptop with the instructions.)

Choose the colors you want your play dough to be and add enough drops of color into the water until it’s a nice bright color. The play dough will, of course, be lighter than your water so you need to make it darker than you want it. Depending on the ages of your children, you may want to do this step for them.

Step 2: Mix flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.

We made ours a nice DARK green.

Help your children measure the flour and salt and mix it into the bowl. We bought a bag of cheap flour just for this purpose so that I didn’t have to worry about them sticking their hands into the flour and contaminating flour intended for food.

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Step 3: Stir the colored water into the flour mixture.

My 3 yr old mixes the water in.

We used a butterknife, as if we were making biscuits, to mix the water into the flour because it’s a good way to mix the water in without getting globs and clumps. Once most of the water is mixed in, there’s only one way to really do it well – you gotta dig in with your hands.

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I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the food coloring in the dough didn’t stain my children’s hands during this process.

Step 4: “Knead” the dough well.

Really GET IN there with your hands.

Turning the lumpy dough onto the table, knead it well until it has a smooth and pliable texture. You will probably need to add a little more flour as you do this. Continue to add flour until the dough is not sticky.

Step 5: Play with your dough!

Ta-da! I big ball of green play dough.

Your play dough is now ready for hours of fun. You can store this in a large ziploc bag or any other airtight container. You can always knead in a little extra water or flour if you find it becomes a little too dry or too sticky. This will last a really long time (though nobody really seems to know for sure.) I suppose it depends on how well your children take care of it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Have fun with your play dough!

In the end, my kids played with their play dough for hours. We made three different colors with 8 cups of store brand flour, (less than two dollars worth,) 1/2 cup store brand salt (about 50 cents) and several drops of store brand food coloring (pennies.

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) For less than three dollars we have a whole lot more play dough that what we could buy for the same amount of money. And my children had a whole lot of fun making it themselves – which you don’t get from buying the real play dough at all! And my kitchen got a thorough cleaning when it was all done – something I’m sure my kitchen and my hubby really appreciated.

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Jennifer D.
Jennifer D.
May 15, 2009 10:32 am

Amber this is great!!! I make play dough all the time…but I have to cook it! Thanks for the recipe! Do you make any other kinds? Like peanut butter or oatmeal play dough.

I think I have a couple of other recipes….just haven’t made them yet.

Have a super weekend!

May 18, 2009 6:41 pm

Thanks for this! I’ve been looking for an easy recipe to use in my preschool Sunday School class.

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