A ball of colourful homemade playdough is a great sensory play material. It’s wonderfully versatile, as well as quick, easy and relatively inexpensive to make.
For me, one of the lovely things about making it yourself is being able to add, and experiment with, extra sensory elements, such as colours, smells and texture. I’ve given some examples below under ‘sensory’ benefits of playdough.
It should keep for weeks if wrapped up well in a plastic bag or airtight container. Each batch makes a generous amount, perfect for lots of creative fun!
**Please make sure children are supervised whilst playing with playdough. Some children (like mine!) will have a go at eating it, and whilst they usually spit it out as it’s very salty, it’s something to keep an eye on!
Benefits of Playdough Play:
Creativity and Imagination
Playdough can become almost anything. It enables children to turn their ideas into tangible objects, from fairy cakes and ice cream to mini beasts and robots.
My children loved adding loose parts, such as pebbles, shells, beads, candles, pine cones and small world toys. It’s great for creating patterns, mark making and fossil imprints. The list goes on!
Fine motor skills development and hand eye co-ordination
The manipulation of playdough – shaping, rolling, flattening, pushing, pulling, twisting and squishing, helps develop hand muscles and dexterity.
Using a rolling pin and cutters can enhance hand eye co-ordination as children learn to manipulate the play dough to fit their ideas.
Playdough play encourages pre-writing and scissor skills, by strengthening the pincer grip.
Playdough can also be a lovely way for children to explore their senses!
From colours (experimenting with the amount of colouring), textures (adding rice, sand or oats), scents (spices, flowers, herbs, essential oils) and consistency (adding more or less water), it’s a wonderful sensory tool.
Sitting in one place and rolling a piece of playdough is extremely calming and soothing.
It can help ease tension, feel therapeutic, as well as provide an outlet for children to express their emotions.
Playdough provides opportunities for both independent and small group play.
It generates discussion about colours, sharing tools and what is being created. These are opportunities for children to learn to play collaboratively and simply enjoy being with one another.
Homemade Playdough Recipes:
I’ve included 2 recipes below. The first is cooked on the stove and the second is made with boiling water. Personally, I prefer the stove cooked method as I find the playdough comes together a bit easier but both recipes work well.
It doesn’t need to be in the fridge. Store it in an airtight container and it should keep for several months.
- 1 cup of salt
- 2 cups of plain flour
- 2 cups of water
- Food colouring
- 1½ tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar – if you don’t have cream of tartar, apparently you can substitute it with lemon juice (approximately 3 tablespoons of lemon juice per 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar). Reduce the amount of water by the amount of lemon juice added so it doesn’t become too runny.
Making the Playdough:
- Put all the ingredients in a pan and heat gently – stirring all the time with a wooden spoon.
- The playdough will gradually come away from the sides of the pan to form a large ball.
- Be careful not to ‘cook’ the play dough for too long as it will firm up as it cools.
- Remove from the pan and place on a clean surface. Leave it to cool down a bit.
- Knead the dough for a minute or so until the right consistency.
2 cups of plain flour
½ cup of salt
2 tablespoons of cream of tartar – if you don’t have cream of tartar, apparently you can substitute it with lemon juice (approximately 3 tablespoons of lemon juice per 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar). Reduce the amount of water by the amount of lemon juice added so it doesn’t become too runny.
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 to 1½ cups of boiling water
Making the Playdough:
Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl.
Carefully measure the boiling water into a jug and stir in some food colouring.
Pour the water into the mixing bowl and stir until all the ingredients are combined (it will still be sticky at this point), then leave until it’s cool enough to handle.
Place the dough onto a clean surface and knead it for several minutes, until it feels the right consistency and is no longer sticky – you can add a little more flour if you need to.
Have lots of fun and happy creating!
For more playdough recipes, have a look at my blog on fairytale-inspired playdough!
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