In this post, find out all about the sensory play benefits of homemade play dough and how you can replicate this awesome play dough in a hassle-free way (no-cook, no cream of tartar) right at home!
Try my other taste-safe sensory play activities:
No Cook Play Dough Without Cream of Tartar for Toddlers!
Homemade play dough has always been on my list of DIY playthings to make and I'm glad to finally attempt it!
Why Make Your Own Play Dough?
Store bought play dough is getting more and more affordable and it’s convenient, but these are the reasons why I diy my own homemade play dough:
- Non-toxic and taste safe. The ingredients that go into homemade play dough are free of harmful additives or chemicals. I feel better letting Gwen play with dough that is made of natural, edible ingredients.
- Soft, squishy and malleable texture that is different from store bought play dough. The benefit about making my own play dough is that I get total control over how I want it to feel. Everyone has their own preference of the elasticity I believe!
- Colours of homemade play dough can be tweaked to fit personal preference. I love muted, pastel colours and it can be difficult finding store bought ones which often look vibrant and gaudy. Making my own play dough allows me control over how the colour turns out.
- Playing with play dough is a sensory activity. Making your own enables you to be creative in making the play dough more stimulating in not just colour, but scent and texture! To scent play dough, you can try natural seasonings with strong smell like cinnamon and cocoa powder. For more interesting textures, you can add chia seeds, sesame seeds and even lavender buds.
- Homemade play dough can be as lasting as store bought ones! In fact I love that it can be refreshed with a bit of water if the texture hardens, or if it becomes moist from sticky little hands it can be resurrected with addition of flout.
I had saved The Imagination Tree's soft and squishy play dough recipe to try out but I was missing one ingredient, cream of tartar. So the baker in me googled for substitutes to cream of tartar and I decided to replace it with lemon juice instead.
Homemade Play Dough Without Cream of Tartar for Toddlers!
I followed The Imagination Tree's recipe, with the following modifications:
- I replaced cream of tartar with the same ml of lemon juice. Just be sure to sieve out the lemon pulp if you're squeezing juice manually from the lemon.
- I used my favourite brand of food colouring, Watkins Food Colouring from Amazon. I like that the colours are derived from pure vegetable juices and spices and there are no artificial colours added. The end results are vibrant and the colours can be washed off very easily when I was making the dough (afterwards, playing with the dough didn't stain the hands.)
- I think I used more than 2 cups of plain white flour in the end. I kept adding small amounts of flour until the dough was easy to knead and no longer clung to my fingers. You can do the same to reach the consistency of play dough you desire.
- I divided the dough into 4 portions to add different food colouring drops to each. You can choose to leave it white or use less colours to save time because honestly, a young toddler doesn't mind the difference!
Benefits of Play Dough Play
- Fine motor workout (All that hand movement into manipulating the dough builds strengths in the little hand muscles and tendons, which is important for later skills like writing and cutting with a pair of scissors)
- Hand-eye coordination
- Build focus and concentration
- Bolster imagination and creativity
- Teach basic science (especially if you involve your child in the making of the dough! This recipe is awesome because it doesn't require cooking over the stove and a child can watch and participate in mixing unrelated ingredients of solid and liquid states into a homogenous solid product!)
Ways to Extend Play Dough Play
Beyond the simple tactile play of squeezing, flattening, rolling, cutting, tearing and squishing of play dough, these ideas would help extend play!
- Provide LOTS of tools to manipulate dough - toy knife, cookie cutter, rolling pin etc
- Supply small loose parts for your child to find ways for play dough to interact with other objects - beads, coloured straws, googly eyes and pasta pieces are good options
- Introduce open-ended play materials for your child to creatively transform play dough into other pretend playthings - ice cream cones naturally leads to your child turning play dough into ice cream scoops, animal figurines help your child create an imaginative wildlife small world etc
- Keep in airtight container when not used for play else a layer of “skin” will form on the dough, which is crumbly, brittle and hard. If that does happen if you accidentally leave out your play dough, don’t worry! Simply hold your play dough over the sink, fold the hardened edges into the middle of the dough and give it a good knead to break up the hardened parts and mix it into the rest of the soft dough
I read that homemade play dough can last a good many months, and even years if kept in a clean and cool environment. I'll definitely be trying to make it last for as long as it can!
More Play Dough Recipes
I believe every mama will eventually discover her own favourite homemade play dough recipe. These are other easy to make play dough recipes I have found in the blogosphere:
- 5-min Prep Play Dough Recipe by The Best Ideas for Kids
- Super Soft Rainbow Play Dough Recipe by Tinker Lab
- Natural Homemade Play Dough Recipe by DIY Natural
- Fragrant Natural Play Dough Recipe with Natural Dyes by Mommypotamus
To follow Gwen's play adventures, check out @miraculove_sg (Instagram), save our pins or join A Toddler Activity A Day Facebook Group.
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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.