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5 Ways to Make Playdough

Developmental Benefits

Playdough is an early learning staple. In almost every toddler and preschool classroom, you will find several different colors of dough with a variety of utensils that can be used to make, shape, and mold. While it is commonly known that most children enjoy using playdough, what you might not know is that playdough actually has several developmental benefits for early learners. Because playdough is an open-ended activity, it allows children to create whatever comes to mind, inspiring creativity and imagination.

According to NAEYC, playdough play supports the strengthening of small muscles in children’s hands and fingers that will later be used for writing. When used with a friend, playdough offers explorations in social skills such as turn-taking and sharing. Making homemade playdough with children can also introduce science and math concepts as you measure ingredients together and compare ingredient textures.

DIY Playdough: 5 Ways

Did you know that playdough can easily be made at home or in your center using a few simple ingredients? Trying out different playdough recipes will allow you and the children in your care to experiment before finding a favorite! View our list below of 5 different ways to make playdough. Each has its own smell and texture, making it fun to explore the unique and subtle differences!

  1. Marshmallow Playdough: Playdough can be made by combining marshmallows, corn starch, coconut oil, and food coloring and quickly heating them in the microwave. While not very flavorful, this playdough is actually safe to eat for children who might be inclined to try a taste test. Visit Growing a Jeweled Rose to get the recipe and see how easy and quick it is to make!

  2. Baking Soda Playdough: For children with allergies, a baking soda recipe can be a great way to get a squishy texture without using ingredients that contain gluten. A simple combination of baking soda, cornstarch, oil and water is all you need to make this quick recipe, using ingredients that you likely already have! Click here to view the recipe.

  3. Koolaid Playdough: While this recipe requires a few more ingredients, using koolaid in your playdough will give each color a unique, fruity scent! A combination of flour, salt, Cream of Tartar, vegetable oil, and Koolaid packets will create this quick microwavable recipe! Children will enjoy the sensory experience of being able to smell each of the different flavors. The step-by-step recipe is available at Kids Activities Blog.

  4. Jell-O Playdough: For another deliciously scented recipe, try using jell-o to create a playdough with a silky smooth texture. Similar to the ingredients in the Koolaid recipe, you will need flour, water, salt, cream of tartar, cooking oil, and Jello packs. However, rather than using a microwave, this recipe calls for combining all of the ingredients on a stovetop! Click here to view the recipe.

  5. 2 Ingredient Playdough: For those who are short on time, or ingredients, did you know that you can make playdough using only conditioner and cornstarch? This recipe is quick to throw together and uses just two simple ingredients that you likely already have handy! For a variety of colors, use a few drops of food coloring. Visit Meraki Mother’s site to get the recipe.

Easy Accessories

Playdough is most enjoyed with accessories used to mold, press, and shape different creations. While there are many accessories available for purchase online, the following household items also work well.

  • Popsicle sticks

  • Raw pasta

  • Cups (reusable or disposable)

  • Ice cream scoopers

  • Children’s scissors

  • Cupcake liners

  • Cookie cutters

  • Plastic silverware

  • Natural materials (such as leaves, rocks or sticks)

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