Homemade play dough: an easy recipe for hours of cheap entertainment!

Homemade Play Dough

[This post may contain affiliate links. This means I may receive a small commission when you click on and purchase something through my links. There is no extra cost to you and my opinions are 100% my own! Read more in my full disclosure for more information.]

As a kid I loved homemade play dough! There was something about a shapeless lump of play dough sitting in front of my eager hands that couldn’t compare to anything. 

I could pretend to make all kinds of delicate pastries to serve at our pretend diner. I could make a zoo full of exotic animals. Or I could make intricate coil pots that resembled a resting snake. 

One thing I loved about play dough was that I could start from scratch any time I wanted to. 

It’s wasn’t like drawing or painting or crocheting. If I wanted to change things up I didn’t have to hunt down more paper or paint or thread. All I had to do was sink my fists into the malleable form and create the next idea from my imagination!

Another thing great about play dough is that I could immortalize my artwork at any time. I could let my hand print wall hanging or castle out to dry. If I was in a rush I would bake it in a low heat oven. Homemade play dough: an easy recipe for hours of cheap entertainment!

After my artwork was dry I could go a step further and paint on more detail! Or string yarn or ribbon through my pre-shaped holes.

Really there was no limit to my play dough fun! Especially on long winter days when other activities weren’t possible. 

Make Your Own Play Dough

Sure, it’s fun to play with the store bought Play Doh. But growing up we never had that kind because it was expensive. And we didn’t usually buy what things we could make ourselves. 

So here is a simple homemade play dough recipe that will provide entertainment for you and your children for hours!

If your children are younger you will have to make this for them as it involves cooking. Or have your older children make it for your youngsters. 

Because it requires cooking you will have to allow time for it to cool to avoid burned hands. But I must say, it is a wonderful feeling sinking your hands into the warm dough when it is freshly made! 

Play Dough
Write a review
  1. 3 cups flour
  2. 1 1/2 cups salt
  3. 6 tablespoons olive or other liquid oil
  4. 3 teaspoons cream of tartar
  5. 3 cups water
  6. Food coloring
  1. Add the desired color and amount of coloring to the water in a large sauce pan. Mix well.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients.
  3. Cook on medium low heat stirring constantly. Keep cooking until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan.
  4. Cool and then knead together.
  5. Store in an air tight container or bag in the refrigerator.
  1. You can cut this recipe in half and make smaller batches of different colors.
Traditional Homemaker https://www.traditionalhomemaker.com/

Lasting Artwork

Meaningful, practical gifts are great, but homemade gifts take gift giving to the next level!

As I mentioned earlier, this play dough is great to dry or bake. Place the artwork on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 200 until hard. Here are a few simple items to make as mementos or thoughtful homemade gifts for others:

  1. Hand print wall hanging – Using a rolling pin, roll a circle of dough out on parchment paper about 1/4 inch thick. Help your child make a hand print in it making sure to press all the fingers in sufficiently. Take a drinking straw and cut a whole towards the top of the circle to string a ribbon through after baking. 
  2. Christmas tree ornaments – Use cookie cutters to make all kinds of different shapes. Be sure to use a straw to cut a hole in each one so they can be hung on the tree. Have the children add little 3-D features with dough or just leave the shapes flat. The ornaments can be painted or left plain once they are dry. 
  3. Rings or earrings dish – Make small coil pots or pinched pots to create a little dish. This dish can be set on the kitchen window sill or near the bathroom sink for safe keeping for your rings or earrings. 
  4. Necklace – Have your children make their own necklace or one for a friend. They can design a pendant that can be hung from a pretty ribbon for their necklace. 
  5. Coasters – Your children can use cookie cutters for different shapes or just canning jar rings for circular coasters. Have them paint scenes on each one. You can shellac over the painting to protect it from water glass condensation. 

So whether you need an activity to keep your kids occupied or you want them to make some great gifts, whip up a batch of homemade play dough and turn your kids loose! 


Make some homemade play dough to keep your children entertained on a budget!
Follow me!