Playdough recipe

Making playdough provides the ultimate learning experience, it is also a lovely material that can provide hours of open ended play.

There are some perfect opportunities here to get a little messy! As you notice how the mixture feels at every stage; the dry flour, and the slippery oil, the sticky dough and the smooth end result. Exposure to different textures and sensory experiences are all good for building children’s acceptance of new experiences.

Being able to laugh and thrive when things get a bit sticky is something that can helps children through all kinds of life events. Not to mention, if you manage to embrace the mess yourself and have fun with this process, it can be lots of fun.


  • 2 cups plain white flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • approx 1.5 cups boiling water (after the first cup, stir in a little at a time until it stops being super sticky)
  • food colouring (*optional- see notes below)

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

If you are adding food colouring, stir it into the boiling water. Before slowly stirring into the dry ingredients.

Stir continuously until it combines, forming a dough. A little stickiness is ok, (but you should be able to remove the spoon without the whole mixture coming with it!)

Allow it to cool down to a safe temperature to touch.

Take it out of the bowl and knead the dough for a couple of minutes until all of the stickiness has gone. If it is really sticking to your hands, add a little dusting of flour. While it is warm it will still feel slightly sticky, so only add a little flour to take it off your hands. Once it cools it should feel smooth and silky to touch!

Once you’ve made your playdough, set up some items to play with it; small child safe cutlery, little plates, things to stick in the playdough to decorate it (we usually raid the recycle bin or outside for suitable items- - lids, big buttons, or natural materials: stones, sticks, dry leaves, flowers).

You can add variety to the sensory experience by using different food colourings each time you make it. The first time you might like to make a plain batch, then perhaps two colours the next to blend together to make a third! The opportunities for exploration and learning are endless!

You could also try a few drops of non toxic child safe essential oils to add a different scent- such as peppermint, lemon, lavender or rosemary.

Photo credit: jamieanne

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