Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Quick and Easy Play Dough Recipes for the Classroom or Home

I have fond memories of my mother making play dough for us when we were young. She made us the cooked kind, and I remember thinking that it took FOREVER to cool enough to play with :)  When I started teaching I began making play dough for my class. Making your own play dough is much cheaper, can be made in large batches and lasts longer than what you buy at the store. It can also be jazzed up in fun ways! When I taught preschool, we actually had the parents sign up to make us new play dough every month, as we went through it pretty quickly in our preschool classroom. I did not make it that often for my Kindergarten class. 

The first recipe is for cooked play dough. Despite what many think, cooked play dough is not a scary thing! Yes, your pan and spoon look terrible afterwards, but 10 minutes of soaking takes care of it. I have found that cooked play dough lasts a little bit longer and is smoother than the uncooked version. 

Recipe for Cooked Play Dough
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
1 TBS oil (see notes)
2 tsp cream of tartar (see notes at the bottom)
Food coloring or powdered drink mix (such as Kool-Aid)

Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium sized sauce pan. Add the water and oil (and food coloring if not using the powdered drink mix) and stir them together. Stir continuously on medium heat, making sure to move your spoon around the entire bottom of the pan. As you can see above, the mixture begins to thicken quickly on the bottom of the pan. Continue to stir until the mixture has formed a ball in the center of the pan. Carefully pinch the dough to make sure it isn't too sticky, then carefully remove and place on a plate or tin foil to cool. 

I used powdered drink mix in the recipe above. I used Kroger brand powdered drink mix in place of Kool-Aid in the recipe above. It produced a wonderful, bright red and the play dough smells like cherries!

Recipe for Un-Cooked Play Dough
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water
1 TBS oil 
2 tsp cream of tartar 
Food coloring or powdered drink mix (such as Kool-Aid)

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the water and oil (and food coloring if not using the powdered drink mix) to 1/2 of the dry ingredients and stir them together. Stir in the second half of the dry ingredients. You may find that you need to add a dash more flour. Once it has formed a ball, as shown above, dust the counter and knead the dough until it is smooth. 
For the uncooked version I used neon blue food coloring. I prefer the neon colors as they are much brighter than the regular pack of colors. 

Store in zip lock bags.

As I mentioned above, one of the best things about making your own play dough is that you can jazz it up. I like to add some extract, such as peppermint, cinnamon or lemon. You can also add glitter, which my students have always gone crazy over! Have fun with it! I hope your students and or children enjoy playing with the play dough you make :)

Both of these versions make great dough for your kids to play with. The cooked version is a little smoother than the uncooked, but the kids don't care a bit about that. The cooked version does last a little longer. I used play dough in my Literacy Centers every few weeks and only made it three times during the school year. 

* I like to use baby oil instead of vegetable oil - it makes the play dough very smooth and it smells good! 
*Cream of tartar is NOT the same thing as tartar sauce!! Cream of tartar is a white powder that can be found in the spice aisle of the grocery store. It is not necessary for the recipe to work, however it helps the play dough to last a little longer. 

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