Homemade Play Dough

By Amanda Bindel, Toca Magazine Writer

Play dough is fun for all ages. There’s something so satisfying about squishing and shaping and creating a form from a blob, so it makes a great activity to play alongside the kids. Plus, play dough play lets kids develop creativity through imaginative play. “Here Mom, here’s your dinner” becomes “Watch out for the sssnake!” with just a squeeze and a roll and a bit of imagination. All that squeezing and squishing, pinching and poking develops fine motor skills, too. It’s easy enough to open a can of store-bought dough, but I think half of the fun is making it!

  • Category: Creative and Maker Play
  • Target age: 2 to 7
  • Skill level: Beginner
  • Materials: Stuff you probably have at home
  • Prep time: 1 to 30 minutes


What You’ll Need

  • stove top
  • medium-size pan
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoon cream of tartar*
  • optional add-ins (drink mix packet, peppermint oil, etc.)

*Cream of tartar, or potassium bitartrate, is a key ingredient to get that smooth dough perfect for play. You can find this in the baking aisle in most grocery stores.


The Activity

  • Get mixing, cooking and kneading

Combine the flour, water, salt and cream of tartar. Then stir over medium heat until you feel it come together and thicken slightly. Turn off the heat and let it cool down until you can touch it. Now the kids can help, kneading the dough to really mix it nicely.

  • Sprinkle in a little color

Add some color and a luscious scent by adding a packet of colored drink mix (like Kool-Aid) to the dough.


  • Add in a hint of the holidays

Try adding in something fun like a few drops of peppermint oil or allspice for those holiday aromas.

  • Bring in textures, accessories and more

    Textures can give kids a sensory experience. Give them straws, toothpicks, birthday candles or other straight objects for poking. Have kids collect seasonal objects from nature, like leaves or flowers, to bring texture to their dough. Give them small objects, like beads or buttons, to decorate their creations. These extras really extend the fun, bringing in more items to further challenge fine motor skills by grasping the objects and pressing them into the soft dough. The colors, scents and accessories let kids take their creative play to another level, too.

  • Storage tips

    Store your homemade dough in baby food containers or zip lock bags to keep it fresh for a couple of weeks. But making a new batch is so fun and easy, you may find you’d rather start from scratch.

Share a photo and win!

Share a photo of your family doing this activity in the comments on our Facebook post or on Twitter with #31DaysofPlay! Every Friday we’ll choose one photo from the week to win a Toca Boca Play Kit full of swag, stickers, and a $15 iTunes Gift Card.

About the Author


Amanda Bindel, Toca Magazine Writer

Amanda Bindel writes about play and learning, but more importantly she plays and she learns. She has two daughters, ages 10 and 6.