Crafts to make with, and for, kids – Playdough

by kath_red on 03/07/2006

in Green Crafting, Kids Crafts, Whip Up Tutorials

Fresh playdough is always a winner at our house. The kids love to help make it, and depending on their ages there is something for everyone to do – from choosing the colour, to helping to measure the salt and flour, to stirring and kneeding the dough. Everyone (me included) loves the feel of fresh warm soft playdough.

Fresh playdough is not only non-toxic and biodegradeable but is super easy to make. All you need is flour, salt, oil, cream of tartar, water and food colouring. (see below for recipe and links to other playdough resources.)

Once the kids have the playdough there are endless activities to engage in, you can roll it use cookie cutters on it, you can make shapes and creatures and people, you can use accessories such as tooth picks, chopped up straws and paddle pop sticks to make all sorts of weird and wonderful personalities. (see this post at kiddley for some great button and toothpick people, and other playdough accessories.) Don’t rush into getting accessories though, not only do most of them end up at the bottom of the garden or in the rubbish and are expensive etc, but make sure to give the children time to explore the basic tactile sensation of the playdough.

Cooked Playdough.


2 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 tablespoons of cream of tartar* (see more info at bottom of post)
1 table spoon vegetable oil
2 cups water
food colouring if required


• Mix flour, salt and cream of tartar.
• Add oil and water, stirring.
• Cook slowly until mixture thickens, stirring continuously, then kneed into a ball and use.
• Store in an airtight container. This playdough will keep for about 3 months.
This recipe is made from edible ingredients and not toxic in small amounts for children, However It is not intended as a food item. Please be sure to put it away after your children have finished playing.

See my tutorial here about making playdough.

*try cooking it in the microwave for 3-4 mins stirring every 30 seconds.
*try adding cool aid to give it a nice smell and vivid colour (be aware that kids might be more likely to eat it).
*another way of adding more vivid colour than basic food colouring is using frosting paste.
*try adding texture such as coffee grounds for a different tactile experience.


stretcher for innovative ideas on how to make your dollar go further.
creative kids at home has some alternative playdough recipes that I have not tried.
allrecipes has a peanut butter playdough recipe that I have often meant to try – let me know if anyone has done this.
home school zone has many alternative playdough recipes – not to mention the zillion other kids resources they have.
there is a no cook playdough recipe – see can teach.
great article at Ruby Glen about her playdough kit – containing all the playdough neccessities. has a heap of different playdough recipes if you want to try something new.

*cream of tartar –
The common name for potassium bitartare, a by-product of wine-making. Its is a major ingredient in baking powder and is used to stabilize beaten egg whites, and is added to candies and frostings to make them creamier. It is also the assistant most often used with alum, iron, or tin mordants on silk and wool. Cream of Tartar helps to soften fibers when harsh mordants are used. It can also help brighten yellows and reds. Read more here. It can be purchased from the cake supply isle of your supermarket.

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For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 strikkelise July 3, 2006 at 6:10 pm

thanks for a good idea for a rainy day!
but; I have no idea what cream of tartar is. is it some kind of emulgator?


2 strikkelise July 3, 2006 at 6:17 pm

sorry, i realize ’emulgator’ is not an English word. i meant emulsifier.


3 Judi July 3, 2006 at 7:49 pm

A friend used kool-aid to make her homemade playdough and it did smell good enough to eat! Great tutorial


4 korinthe July 3, 2006 at 8:00 pm

How much cream of tartar is in a packet? Ours comes in bottles.


5 Amy July 3, 2006 at 8:06 pm

My recipe uses alum instead of cream of tartar. Also, I use boiling water in my mixer instead of heating the whole thing on the stovetop. You can’t go wrong with homemade playdough!


6 admin July 3, 2006 at 8:42 pm

Have adjusted the recipe for the cream of tartar – and given an explanation of what it is.


7 gleek July 3, 2006 at 9:48 pm

mmmm, cream of tartar is great in biscuits.

homemade playdough! i haven’t made this in a long time :) thanks for the recipe.


8 Joleen July 4, 2006 at 1:25 am

we must be on the same page here bc we just made playdoh this week! :) we used a more basic recipe since i was the one making it for my charge who is 2 but i’ll have to try this one out too, sometime. thanks!


9 Katherine July 4, 2006 at 1:58 am

We made batches of playdough to give as Chrismas gifts to our kids’ friends. It’s nice to add essential oils to make each colour smell different. Make sure it’s an oil that can have direct contact with skin though, some might be too strong. I used lavender essential oil, tea tree oil, and also vanilla essence (used in baking) for a yummy smell. Almond essence or peppermint essence (the edible essences used in baking) might work well too.


10 Steph July 4, 2006 at 3:10 am

thank you thank you thank you!

from a happy mummy! :o)


11 edgegallery July 4, 2006 at 4:21 am

I like the essential oils idea! We also like to add glitter too.


12 Naomi July 4, 2006 at 6:12 am

We use boiling water as well – saves mess and ‘dead arm’ caused by having to stir it for so long! Love the essential oils idea too.


13 PinkChalkStudio July 4, 2006 at 9:40 pm

Great post, very timely as I look for fun things to do with the kids this summer.


14 Steph July 5, 2006 at 12:26 pm

We made it! It’s now been in use for around 7 hours in total, over two days!!! absolutely brilliant. i am now your slave.



15 Kate Chadwick July 5, 2006 at 1:44 pm

A simpler, no-cooking way to make this is to combine all the dry ingredients in a heatproof bowl, then add boiling water and stir until the mixture thickens. It turns out just the same.


16 admin July 5, 2006 at 3:42 pm

ok i am going to have to try the no cook way using boiling water.


17 jan July 7, 2006 at 3:38 pm

thanks for the recipe kath!


18 Gayle September 12, 2006 at 12:08 pm

I’m trying to find a alternative to cream of tartar for playdough as I am unable to find it in the shops here and the language barrier makes it difficult to ask. Is there anythingelse I can use instead.


19 Christina December 11, 2006 at 1:40 am

Hi, I am a mom who has a child who is allergic to cream of tartar. Since it is in almost every receipe for homemade and machine made play dough my daughter has been missing out on a great childhood treat. Is there another way of making cook play dough without the tartar? We’ve tried the no cook and it doesnt work as well as I remember.


20 Ed January 2, 2007 at 4:17 am

Thanks for this recipe! My wife home schools our oldest son, who is mildly autistic, and we have found the only thing that stimulates artistic creativity within him is letting him experiment with playdough.


21 JT Gangwer February 14, 2007 at 3:16 am

Thank you so much for the recipe; I have 11 grandchildren, all under the age of 10 ~ They absolutely love to come to Aaka’s (grandma in Eskimo)
house, because they can play and create with this play dough, hours and hours of fun. When they help make this, they can “personalize” their own because of the colors they use………..Quyanaqpak (Thank you very much in Eskimo)


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