Friday, August 1, 2014

Homemade Play Dough

Kidster is a little over 17 months (almost a year and a half in non parent time) and she’s always asking to play with the Play-Doh.  She actually says “flay” about 20 times before we finally just give in and let her play with it in her high chair.  I noticed she was taking little nibbles of it and had bits of blue goo stuck in her teeth.  Of course everyone says, “Play-Doh is non toxic!”  That being said, I’m not a fan of my kid putting it in her mouth when I’m not really sure exactly what is in it. 

Here’s a bit of history for you.  Play-Doh was originally created in the 1920’s as a wallpaper cleaner.  It was smeared on the wallpaper where the soot from the cooking stoves had caked on the walls.  Kind of along the lines of using silly putty to copy comics from the newspaper. (Do kids still do that anymore?)  It contains mineral oil and borax.  I’m not sure if Kidster ate a chunk of it that she would be feeling ok.  Toxic or not, it just doesn’t seem like a good idea for my 17 month old to be possibly eating.

I remember when we were kids my mom would ‘cook’ play dough for us.  It didn’t taste that great but I know that it wouldn’t make us sick.  I’m pretty sure she used Jell-O as a coloring or something.  This time around I didn’t have any Jell-O so I went this gel food coloring.  Not a good choice might I add, it just wasn’t as bright as I had hoped, and I used a whole tube!

In the spirit of nostalgia I used a vintage Pyrex mixing bowl, and a wooden spoon.  Pretty cool when I was playing with it it smelled just like I remembered when I was a kid.  I found the recipe at The Imagination Tree.  Be sure to subscribe to her blog! She’s pretty awesome!  She used glitter but I wasn’t sure how my dough was going to turn out and I can just imagine trying to get glitter out of a toddlers eye….  not fun.  You can be sure I’ll be adding glitter when she’s older though! Who doesn’t like glitter?

The recipe at The Imagination Tree was a pretty big batch so I halved everything. The recipe below is my halved version.  It’s certainly enough for one kid!  Be sure you have Cream of Tartar on hand because it’s a pretty major ingredient.  I talked about C.o.T. in my post Instant Apple Cider Cookies.


  • 1 C plain flour (all purpose)
  • 1T vegetable oil
  • 1/4 C salt
  • 1T cream of tartar
  • Up to 2/3 C boiling water
  • Food coloring
  • *The Imagination Tree recommends glycerin to add shine but I don’t have any.


Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl.


Add the coloring to the boiling water.  I did this as instructed and it barely added much color to the dough. 


The wooden spoon wasn’t working to mix the dough so I switched to a silicone spatula.



Kidster totally loved the dough and didn’t seem to notice the difference between the homemade kind and the Play-Doh version.  It wasn’t as colorful as I was hoping or remembered.  I think next time we will use the plain food coloring instead of the fancy pants gel stuff.  I ended up using a whole tube of gel color for a half batch of dough.  It’s a bit of a sickly green color but she enjoyed it anyway!

I have no idea what we’re going to have planned for next Fun Kid Friday but be sure to subscribe!

Which do YOU prefer: Play-Doh or Homemade?



  1. How creative!!

  2. I recently saw the idea of adding spices to homemade playdoh for a sensory boost. They suggested cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or ginger.

    1. That's a really great idea. I came across a photo of dough with bits of rosemary poking out. I was a bit lost as to why you would want to do that. Makes sense now. The only bit that would worry me is if the kiddos were to get the spices in their eyes.


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