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Making Playdough

Making Playdough

January 14, 2011 Sarah Coggins

We have been trying to keep occupied indoors as much as possible recently. Even on the sunniest of days since the ice storm, it’s been bitterly cold with a nasty wind. We ventured out yesterday morning for fun with our playgroup, but after naptime needed something to do. I finally got around to one idea that had been on my list all week – making playdough.

I used a recipe from my aunt…

Mix 1 cup of flour, half a cup of salt, 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar, 1 tablespoon of baby oil, and 1 cup of water in a large pot.  Warm over moderate heat, stirring until the mixture sticks together.  Knead after cooling.  Add food coloring and knead again.  Store in an airtight container.  If dry, add more baby oil.

I decided to let my son in on as much of the process as possible (obviously, not the stovetop part) so we started with the pot on the floor.   He helped me dump in the dry ingredients (and I quickly realized it might be a good idea to add a baking sheet under the pan to limit the mess).  Do you see the grin on his face??

Yes, there were a few minutes of happy scooping of flour & salt.  🙂

We added the wet ingredients. He helped me stir. Then, I took it all away to the stovetop. Amazingly, he handled this pretty well. We’re at the point where if he wants something (such as playing with this mixture) and it’s taken away, a tantrum might erupt. Thankfully, this did not happen. I held him up at one point to see what was going on but stated firmly, “hot. No touch.” Which resulted in him blowing in the air [a mimic of us blowing on his hot food to cool it 😉  ].

After the ingredients were finished cooking and had a chance to cool, I pulled out the mixture in full view and carefully kneaded it by hand. Then I brought it down to his level, split the mixture in two, and let him help choose the colors. I added the food coloring and combined it by hand as he watched.

Then I gave him his two containers of playdough and told him to take them to his table – which he did (and yes, I enjoyed that little moment of direction following!). And then he wasn’t quite sure what to do next.

I plucked a bit from each and showed him how to squish it. This got stares. Interested stares but still a hint of confusion. So I rolled them into balls. Finally, something recognizable …

and they were thrown because that’s what you do with balls, of course.  😉

** Updated 6/22/12: ‘handy’ tip for food coloring stained hands afterward – clean using a bit of baking soda and water. **


  • emily January 14, 2011 at 10:04 am
    what a fun project. I can't get over how big he has gotten!
  • Laura January 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm
    Fun! How long can you keep that playdough?

    I thought about doing this with Cam but I'm waiting until he's older. Also? Cameron is in that tantrum if you take something away phase and has been for a while. It's pretty frustrating.
  • scrapchick January 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm
    lol, Looks like fun though! Hope you got your hands clean! ;)
  • Bonnie January 14, 2011 at 7:26 pm
    I have no doubt that he will be molding and sculpting very soon!
  • Linda January 14, 2011 at 9:10 pm
    It looks like you had a fun afternoon. My kids loved playing with playdoh.
  • Anonymous January 15, 2011 at 7:20 am
    Loved seeing the pictures! Thanks for posting them. (Laura, This playdough lasts a LONG time.) The original recipe I had used cooking oil, but it would eventually start smelling bad. A friend told me she used the baby oil and I started using that and it will smell great forever. If it starts to dry out, add baby oil and knead. ......Aunt Rhonda
  • Elle The Heiress January 15, 2011 at 9:12 pm
    looks like a lot of fun! Have you tried making the edible playdoh? That's our favorite. =)
  • Eugenia January 16, 2011 at 12:04 am
    How cute!!! That looks like so much fun. I can't wait until Ella is older so we can do stuff like this together. :)
  • Jessica January 16, 2011 at 2:11 am
    Awww, this brings back memories of my mom making playdough. Such a cute post!
  • chapelhillmom January 17, 2011 at 8:29 am
    Throwing playdough is exactly what C does! :) Great boys think alike. Very cute idea and love the colors you made.
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    Hi! I'm a DIY and craft obsessed mom to 2. I have my hands covered in sawdust or paint any given day. My husband and kids join me in many of our projects. When we aren't creating at home, we're creating memories in our many adventures. Join along! Read More


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